Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bored to Death - Season 1

I didn't realize that last week's episode was actually the season finale, although in the context I probably should have. Bored to Death is HBO's newest comedy series (the only thing they're doing particularly well right now to my tastes, though there is hope on the horizon), about a struggling writer named Jonathan who decides to fill the hole left after his girlfriend leaves him by putting up an ad on Craig's List as an "unlicensed private detective". He ends up getting arrested in the first episode, but that doesn't deter him as he continues to take on cases. Like its protagonist, Bored is flawed, if ultimately likable. People who prefer a little more rambunctiousness out of their comedy could make a joke about the title of the show being accurate to the experience of watching it, because a lot of the humor is subtle and reserved. There's just little things like the way Jonathan explains his situation to other people that probably won't make you laugh out loud, but should cause a smirk or to. An early example is when his girlfriend justifies leaving him by saying he smokes and drinks too much, with him saying that he's slowed down to only drinking white wine. Later, he repeatedly tells people his girlfriend dumped him for drinking too much white wine. His character looks at the world in an unusual way, and it's interesting to watch someone so self-deluded in action.

It gets a little wackier at points later on, like when Jonathan's friend and boss end up getting high together in a car instead of providing adequate back up on a sting that goes wrong, or when they all end up in a boxing competition in the two part conclusion. There's also a subplot about his friend's donated sperm that both adds some humor and helps expand the show's scope beyond a weekly mystery to solve. Jason Schwartzman and Zach Galifianakis are an entertaining and hard to spell pair, and Ted Danson adds a certain something as the boss. Zach is pretty downplayed when I was hoping for something a bit more manic, but I actually came to like his character quite a lot. He's sort of a mirror to Jonathan's pathetic nature, in a similar yet different situation and just as miserable. It's not exactly a feel good show, but worth checking out if thinking doesn't hurt your brain.

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