Darby’s Sexy Leg Confuses Variety
Rhys Darby’s new eight-episode mockumentary Short Poppies is being praised for its “whimsical and winsome” charms ahead of its debut on American screens on Netflix. The LA Times’ Robert Lloyd describes the series as “sweet, absurd and a little melancholy,” and flatteringly draws parallels with Steve Coogan’s Coogan’s Run, The Tracey Ullman Show and Portlandia.
Darby, who found international fame playing the hapless deputy cultural attaché Murray Hewitt on Flight of the Conchords, plays a range of different characters who are profiled by actual television journalist David Farrier, who is making a documentary about everyday New Zealanders.
Created and written by Darby, the series also features Sam Neill and Stephen Merchant. Darby told specialist comedy website Splitsider.com that he chose online content provider Netflix because it gave the series “global reach”.
Lloyd praises the loose, semi-improvised rhythms of Short Poppies, “with its gallery of aspirational eccentrics seen from the inside – that is, with affection”.
Not everyone is so generous. While the New York Times critic Neil Genzlinger is edified by the respect shown the comedy audience through the absence of laugh track and avoidance of sit-com tropes, he finds insufficient humour to justify a recommendation.
“There are delightfully wry moments here … but these droll dollops are widely spaced,” writes Genzlinger.
Variety magazine’s Brian Lowry also has reservations: “The series relies too heavily on Darby’s mugging. He’s a formidable talent but … there’s nothing here worthy of a prize”.
But Lowry then blots his copybook by referring to a sketch as “sexy league competition,” a mishearing of the Kiwi accent. It is in fact a sketch involving Darby’s lifeguard’s obsession with winning a “sexy leg competition”.
No wonder he didn’t find the show funny.