Monday, November 9, 2009

TV Review: Bored to Death - Season 1

HBO's Bored to Death just finished its first season, and I must say the season as a whole was a joy to watch from beginning to end.

The show tells the story of novelist Jonathan Ames (who coincidentally is the real-life creator of the show, but the fictional version of him is played by Jason Schwartzman). Jonathan is struggling to write his follow-up novel to his first real success. In Jonathan's boredom he lists himself as an unliscesned private detective on Craig's list, claiming to his friend Ray (played by Zach Galifinakis) that he's read enough detective books that he feels he can solve mysteries.

Bored to Death is a widely successful comedy, riffing off of many classic film noirs. In particular the direction and writing highlight this aspect. Creator Jonathan Ames, who also wrote practically every show, managed to make a noir that isn't really about a mystery, but about Jonathan's incompetence at being a detective.

The season started off a touch slow, the first episode had probably the fewest laughs of the entire season, but it set up the show nicely and made me want to come back and see what happened next. Every episode after that was chock full of laughs as we watched Jonathan embark on each new detective case while trying to work freelance for his editor's magazine, played by Ted Danson. Danson's character actually had many of the funnier moments of the season, but none were funnier than when Danson and Galifinakis's characters join Jonathan on one of his cases, and while waiting in the car for Jonathan, they get high together. "You don't high dial your daughter!" Finally, the show reached a climactic finale where Jonathan boxed a book critic who despised his first novel (played by the PC Guy from the I'm a Mac, I'm a PC commercials).

HBO is known for their edgier programming, and other than some drug use the show was actually quite tame compared to other HBO programs, which I admired a great deal.

All of the actors were spot on, Schwartzman worked his usual charm as Ames, and when Galifinakis was given the material, he supplied the laughs. Like many other HBO shows, they managed to nab a great deal of celebrity guest stars, from arthouse film director Jim Jarmusch to Kristen Wiig but my personal favorite was Parker Posey as the mother of a skateboard kid whose skartboard was stolen and Jonathan must find it.

Overall Bored to Death is a terrific show, and I'm extremely excited that it is coming back for a second season.

I give Bored to Death - Season 1 an A!

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