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STUDIO HBO Entertainment
RUNNING TIME 203 Minutes
- Audio Commentaries
- Deleted Scenes
- Inside the Episodes
The Rushmore kid, the Hangover guy, and Sam from Cheers band together for wacky hijinks and crime solving.
Jason Schwartzman, Zach Galifianakis, and Ted Danson
Jason Schwartzman plays Jonathan Ames, a writer that solves crimes with the help of his friends, comic book artist Ray (Zach Galifianakis) and philanthropist restauranteur George Christopher. In this season, Jonathan finds out that he was adopted and searches for his real father. During this, Ray has to deal with the fact that he is a father while George copes with his daughter marrying someone his own age.
I hadn’t ever seen Bored to Death before reviewing this particular season, but I had always meant to. I was familiar with the show’s creator from this amazing graphic novel I read a long time ago, The Alcoholic. In it, Jonathan Ames recounts his problems with his alcoholism while also detailing his life up to sobriety. It was an incredibly frank, moving portrait of an artist that was unafraid to pull punches with himself.
Of course, this kind of work would naturally make him the best candidate for a comedy for HBO. I’d always meant to watch the show, but it was one of those things of me being way too lazy to actually watch the show. Gosh darn it, there are so many other things to do and, despite me wanting to watch a television show with Zach Galifianakis, Jason Schwartzman, and Ted “Mr. Steenburgen” Danson, I loved to do other things, too.
Luckily, I work for the internet now, which means that things happen. I finally watched Bored to Death and, fortunately, the show did not live up to its name.
Jonathan Ames has made a show with an incredibly singular voice. He’s proven himself incredibly versatile, creating a piece with the same intelligent voice in his other work while making it very, very funny. In Bored to Death, Ames takes the typical tropes of the man-children from Generation X and turns it on its head. Our three main leads are juvenile sophisticates, both selfless and self serving. They’re incredibly dynamic characters and, what’s more, possess three distinct identities, made all the better by three actors that could not have more different performance styles.
Schwartzman as private eye Jonathan Ames is a fantastically inept, yet moderately successful detective. He’s just clueless enough to be funny, but good enough to be believable. Sure, it’s absolutely a vanity trip when the creator names the main character after himself, but Bored to Death Ames is so put upon that it feels completely away from self-serving. While Jonathan is someone we can root for, we don’t exactly ever want to be him. Add Schwartzman’s sly delivery on top of the character’s buffoonery and it’s a hysterical performance.
Accompanying him is Ray, played by Zach Galifianakis, who is basically doing a variation on any one of this characters from any of his movies. Not to say that this is a problem, as Galifianakis is hysterical in the role, and the part is made fresh by those around him. People take Ray seriously here; he is an equal to Jonathan. He’s also a sexual object, as he gets laid the most of our three leads. It’s an interesting subversion on Galifianakis’s usual persona, which I already found incredibly funny, and it fits nicely into Ames’s universe.
Stealing the show consistently, however, is Ted Danson as aging rich person George Christopher. Danson plays Christopher as slightly aloof, barely hanging on in terms of intelligence, but making it by anyways. I haven’t ever seen Danson this funny, nor have I ever been behind a Ted Danson performance this much. It’s Ted Danson. What’s exciting about that? But every single scene he is in benefits and he steals it by acting stoned for the entire run of the season.
It’s these three characters that share the spotlight and carry the show. They unwaveringly support each other in times of crisis and will often stop whatever they’re doing if someone is in trouble. For example, if Jonathan is hanging off of a clock in order to avoid being captured by the police because someone framed him for murder, Ray won’t have sex with his girlfriend despite the fact that she wants to use lube because…well, it’s Jonathan. Also, there’s fascinating logic in this show.
I also expected the show to center around Jonathan’s cases, but that’s not what happens. For a season consisting of eight episodes, a lot of time is mainly spent with character interactions. We start off the season with a fantastic two parter about Jonathan getting framed for murder, then go into the day to day actions of these characters until the season wraps up with another two parter. While there is an arc about Jonathan finding his true father, the show is far more preoccupied about the characters and their dilemmas then about having a case every week.
The show is so incredibly dry, yet also very broad, that it creates an interesting juxtaposition. Bored to Death ranges the gamut of humor, unafraid to crack jokes about Dick Cavett (who has a large part in one episode) while having Ray put whiskey on his nipple to nurse his son. The tone always remains consistent, being quite erudite while also being very sophomoric. It’s this very feeling that sets the show apart from every other comedy on television, something that is wholly original in terms of feeling. Bored to Death is a fantastic watch and I should probably go back to the first two seasons to check it out.
For a season with eight episodes, Bored to Death Season Three is packed with special features. Each episode has a dissection by Jonathan Ames, where he goes through the biggest beats and explains his purpose of wanting it in the episode. It’s very informative and you get a great sense of Jonathan Ames and his voice outside of the show.
Also included are deleted scenes, which are great, but go unmissed in the episodes, and outtakes, which are less gag reel and more showcases of the improv abilities of the actors. Rounding out the set are a handful of audio commentaries on select episodes, which are pleasant listens that speed by. Ultimately, the content is a wonderful supplement that is a great behind the curtain look at the show.
Rating: Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Out of a Possible 5 Stars