Show 101: Bored to Death

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SHOW: Bored to Death

PREMIERES: Sunday, September 26 at 10:00 pm on HBO

THE PREMISE: The show follows Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman), a frustrated, often drunk and/or high writer living in Brooklyn with his girlfriend Suzanne (Olivia Thirlby). Suzanne leaves him, citing his alcoholism and lack of ambition—so to show initiative, Jonathan decides to advertise his services as a private detective on Craigslist. Each episode follows the hopeless and hapless romantic Jonathan as he solves odd cases (Stolen skateboards! Cheating spouses!) with the help of his best friend Ray Hueston (Zach Galifianakis) and his boss George Christopher (Ted Danson). Also, the show was created by real-life Brooklyn author Jonathan Ames, so the meta component is a kind of always there.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This show is swimming in darkly comic, noir-style humor, and it showcases the bizarreness of being aimless in New York City—a place where aimlessness doesn’t work that well. You’ll see some great shots of Brooklyn and of the Lower East Side, Bored to Death consistently ups its indie cred by working with some of the best comic actors in the biz, including Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Jenny Slate, Todd Barry, and John Hodgman. Schwartzman’s portrayal of Ames is understated genius, and whoever came up with the idea to hire Ted Danson deserves a medal. His scenes with Galifianakis absolutely make the show....

WHY YOU MIGHT HATE IT: ...but it does take about five episodes to really "get" Galifianakis and Danson together. At its worst, Bored to Death moves just a tad slow and may seem more concerned with keeping its hair appropriately styled rather than digging in for the laughs. The first season season boasted a boxing match that involved all three stars, a plot point that seemed a bit forced and also completely devoid of tension—but it’s a testament to the show that as the finale got closer, I was too wrapped up in the story to care.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: You are already pretty much caught up, as each episode usually deals with just one case. For Season 2, you can expect more cases, more high hijinks, and more stilted romances. Last season gave us a few episodes with Slate as a pothead co-op employee love interest, and from what I understand, we’ll be seeing even more of that relationship. That, plus the so-bizarre-it-becomes-hilarious trio of Schwartzman, Galifianakis, and Danson (his best work since Three Men and a Baby), is enough to make watching totally worth your while.

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