Bored to Death (2009–2011)
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All of the actors, Ted Danson in particular, give depth and nuance to the characters they play. The entire cast use their bodies, from face to feet, to express their over-the-top characters. The script is intelligent, farcical and just plain fun and all of it is enhanced by the camera work and direction.
I am rationing the remaining episodes or I'll devour them in one day and have to wait for HBO's interminable next season!
The highlight of the show is the well-crafted and aptly played characters facing these absurd situations. Ted Danson excels in playing George Christopher, creating an insightful and comic guide for Jonathan Ames. Many of my favourite moments and lines involve George and his insatiable desire for weed, liquor and beautiful women. Ray Hueston is Jonathan Ames' "side-kick" - a down-and-out cartoonist trying to succeed with his comics about "Super-Ray"; a superhero costumed version of himself equipped with a 9-foot long penis. Madly in love with his girlfriend, his rather cringe failings as a boyfriend are very funny. I am not so impressed by Jonathan Ames as a character though, as he is quite vapid and not often particularly funny. On the other hand, this absence of a fleshed-out subconscious to Jonathan is possibly the director's choice to push more focus on the other characters.
The writing is also incredible. Dialogue isn't exactly believable, as these caricatures are all overly witty, cultured and dramatic, but it makes me laugh all the more. The deep friendship between Jonathan and George seems to be based on a father-figure relationship that is strange, funny and at times heart warming as the characters go through slightly more serious times in the 2nd and 3rd series. Most of all, a show about 3 fully grown adults in the cultural sector smoking weed, drinking all the time and going on some crazy adventures just sounds awesome.
I've never seen a TV comedy show with this sort of sense of humour before, it reminds me, as my title suggests, of a Wes Anderson movie but with a pinch of Kevin Smith.
Imagine if "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zisou" was about a young writer-turned-unlicensed-private-detective instead of an over-the-hill documentary-maker, and throw in a scene from "Mallrats" every now and again and you get close to the feel of "Bored To Tears".
Jason Schwartzman is, IMO, the perfect choice for the lead role - he's almost reprising his "I (Heart) Huckabees" character.
Keep an eye out for little details - objects on screen, reactions of "extras", the lyrics in whatever song is playing in the background... there's alsorts of really funny things you might miss if you're only half paying attention.
I can't wait for the next episode!
Who the hell knew Ted Danson was so funny? Best role of his career. Everyone in this series is fantastic: Jason Schwartzman as the new Jerry Seinfeld, Zach Galifianakis as a seedier, dirtier and, yes, sexier version of George. I think this comedy is aimed squarely at the contingent of New Yorkers (and wannabees) who love reading "The New Yorker" while regretting their fondness for its pretensions. It's the perfect blend of high and low-brow NY sensibilities.
Due to the representation of cheerful, harmless drug and alcohol consumption, and all the many references to male genitalia, it would be impossible for this show to air anywhere other than on cable TV. For that reason alone, "Bored to Death" will never be the smash with the masses that Seinfeld was, but still, those of us who love cable and who are always waiting for the next best series will continue to be delighted with it -- and we'll tell our friends. Keep it coming!
Jason,Zack and Ted are all simply fabulous in their roles. The very idea of a struggling writer using Craigslist to get jobs as an unlicensed private detective is pure brilliance.
The story lines are consistently hilarious and the dialogue is smart and a real treat to a comedy snob like myself. This makes most network shows look like the tripe it usually is..
My only caveat is that there are but 8 shows per season.....and now the long wait till Season 3 :(
After losing his roommate/lover, Jonathan is unable to write, and suffers from a serious case of the doldrums. He mopes around his apartment, doing very little but reading Raymond Chandler novels and getting smoked up. Schwartzman is very good at conveying this bright-guy-turning-into-a-loser character. Apparently inspired by the Chandler novels, he decides to try his hand at being a private eye himself. Despite having no background whatsoever in police work, he figures he has nothing to lose and advertises on craigslist as an "unlicensed" private detective. He hopes that by doing this he will pad his bank account, as well as find inspiration for his writing. Thus, the hilarity ensues.
The series is stylish, with lots of allusions to Raymond Chandler potboilers, complete with gorgeous, troubled dames, topcoats, hats, and all the Chandler-esquire parafernalia. Jonathan hasn't a clue as to what he's doing, but somehow his escapades all work out, with George and Ray as his Keystone cops sidekicks. Each episode is done tongue-in-cheek, requiring a large dose of literary license from the viewer. If the viewer has a sense of fun and enjoys a well-crafted farce, this isn't hard to do. I hope this series catches on, because in my household, this is half an hour of very entertaining television. All the actors do a fine job, my favorite being Ted Danson, who seems to thoroughly enjoy acting a fool and probably getting paid enormous amounts of money to do so. Some of the scenes are sidesplittingly funny; others have a Woody Allen-ish charm, as Schwartzman is exactly the kind of appealing nebbish that Allen always played. Season 2 started very nicely and is continuing the awesomeness of Season 1.
This has the hoity pretension of the Wes Anderson (et al) movies, endearing observation of 90s (popular) stand-up, and a delivery that is just straight up charming. Plus an accessibility that even an Airplane fan like me would be able to click in to (if that were the only style I were in to).
Whilst it could very easily veer in to the pretentious crowd (and with Schwartzman that's sometimes difficult to tell, because of his on-screen manner), it always stays on song. It's very accessible, and hilarious. It's not just the clever jokes, the in jokes and the observations (woven in to the characters) there's also a health dose of (very) old school slapstick I think. Hell, it even manages to catch the stoner crowd.
It could be thought of as being too male centric, well, apart from that being slightly the point it's never testosterone city, and it might feel token if a female point of view were added. But if it were, what a view it might be.
There is however enough real life, every day concern in here to just about anchor the series in the observational comedy arena, as the various complaints of the women are undoubtedly common ones we can all relate to. Despite the obvious inadequacies of our protagonist, Ames is affable and likable. He is polite almost to a fault and has a formality about him that both helps and hinders him in equal measure in his various encounters with the broad ranging characters he meets whilst conducting his detective work (he says he in unlicensed, so he rationalises this is fairer and 'more legal') For the most part, the men are generally insensitive and selfish towards the women in their lives and cut humorously pathetic figures in any of their attempts at reconciliation with them. In the opening episode we see Ames attempt to win his girlfriend back by bemoaning, 'I am living like a pig...I have no toilet paper; no milk!'. Their inadequacies as men in relationships are obvious, but instead of trying harder to fix their problems, they retreat further into a fantasy world now largely facilitated by Ames' detective work. By far the most intriguing and fabulously colourful character is eccentric magazine editor George Christopher played magnificently by a rather dashing looking Ted Danson. Foppish but with an irresistible boyish charm, George is enigmatically enthusiastic about everything and anything that comes his way. Unlike Jonathon and Ray, George is sophisticated and wealthy, but despite having the enthusiasm, drive & romantic sensibilities that the other two lack, even he has been alluded by a meaningful relationship with the opposite sex, leaving him cynical and bored enough to want to constantly smoke pot and invite himself along to whatever Jonathon is doing.
Cannabis is a prevalent element as both a plot device and a central theme, but this is more than just a stoner comedy. 'Bored to Death' is effortlessly stylish; the tone is often flat and inert leaving room for the most subtle of nuances. The laughs often come from the smallest of charming details - an earnest look from Jonathon, the childish enthusiasm from George or a miserable and defeatist remark from the down trodden and vulnerable Ray. They all genuinely have the best of intentions here, but the humour derives from their constant refusal to live in the real world, the world in this case, represented by women. 'Bored to Death' is by no means laugh a minute, but if you scratch just underneath the off-beat sensibility of the humour, you find something all together more interesting. Couple this with the fact that its writer/creator, Jonathon Ames bases the protagonist loosely on himself and we have some interesting musings on the artistic mentality, relationships, drugs and escapism. All in all the series reminds us in charming and subtle detail that men never really grow up.
I do not want to oversell this series though. There are some episodes that people are going to dislike, if not hate. For me, the real downers include a story about a kid and his skateboard and another about a lesbian couple accepting a sperm donation. I do not know why Mr. Ames thought that either story was a good idea for a series. Perhaps, he had a off-day or the pressure undermined his creative powers. But on the other side of the coin, there are episodes that are written intelligently, show originality and can be hilarious. In short, this series is really a strange jumble of brilliant and terrible episodes.
"Bored to Death" also stars Ted Danson, famous for his role in the Cheers series, who consistently gives a wonderful performance as Jonathan Ames' boss, George. Zack Galifianakis gives an OK performance for an OK role. Then there is Oliver Platt who gives a far superior performance as George's eccentric nemesis.
I have to say though, I got really sad when George was diagnosed with cancer and I was really bombed that why my favorite show that make me soooo happy has to have such drama in it... just to find out, that it was a mistake!!! :) I love you guys!!! great writing, great acting!!! Love the lines that Ted Danson says from time to time in the show and quote them on my facebook page crediting the show of course! I would love love love to work with you.
cheers, George :)
The actors are funny, but because they are funny themselves. I certainly am a fan of the big guy, just for the faces he makes sometimes. The other two can be funny as well, but not because of the story.
All in all just one of those million series that are so ironic, and therefore empty and weightless. It will be forgotten within weeks from the appearance of the last episode.
Meanwhile Jason's boss harasses him with some very personal issues, leading to tacky situations. The loser friend's issues get ignored while Jason keeps going on about how bad it is that his girlfriend left him and how he maybe should be drinking less white wine or smoking less pot to win her back.
At the end of each episode the situation resets back to normal: there is no character development and the the next episode is going to have an even sillier story than the one you just watched. Watching this crap makes you dull and I had to give up during the fifth episode of the first season as my brain just could not take this anymore.
The title sequence is nice and the music and directing are OK, so 4/10 for that.
I can't believe this show wasn't picked up for at least another 2 or 3 seasons. Too bad. This style of comedy is never seen on T.V.(not this caliber) and it's going to be a while until something like it comes around again.
I'll admit the first season was a little rough around the edges but it had some of the most memorable scenes (LMAO the skateboard stealing scene when Galifinakis reacts to Shwartzman not being able to get into the car HAHAHA GENIUS).
The writers are very creative in their story lines. I loved seeing the always elegant Isla Fischer guest staring in the third season. She fit right in. All 3 of the leads are brilliant. Every episode is a howl and if you enjoy a little 420, this show is right up your alley.
Pot or not, Bored to Death has got to be the most under rated comedy this decade. No jokes.
Watch it, you'll zip through 3 seasons before the end of the week.
At some point an Israeli Jew asks the main character whether he's one of those self hating New York Jews, only way you'd find this funny is if you were.
Don't get me wrong Jewish humour which plays on stereotypes can be hilarious, take Seinfeld for instance its how it plays and this just seems shallow with dull unlikable characters and a wasted idea.
This show is much better than so many "medium" budgeted movies...it just purely has its own way of doing things which is very fresh from my perspective... It's very hard to do something new(creative) nowadays but this show brings that.
This is an absurdist comedy. Ames is pathetic and only out-pathetic by Zach Galifianakis' antics. Ted Danson gives a crazy performance from a different perspective. It's a crazy wacky world of over drinking pot haze. While I love the guys, the comedy is a bit dark and definitely not your average sitcom. It's not to everyone's taste and a bit of hit and miss. Luckily it's more hit than miss. Sometimes I winces at their pitifulness. Mostly we're allow to laugh at them. It's certainly not your average comedy.
Shwartzman is very good, funny almost in a Chaplin awkward/pitiful sort of way, while all the other main characters bring a chunk of presence whether it's Ray or Leah, obviously the excellent Michael (Ted Danson), or Oliver Pratt (Michael's rival) or that psycho nerd (brilliant), Patton Oswalt as the crazy weaponry/special item provider... they all bring a unique face and quality to the experience. They're characters that stay with the viewer, not mere replaceable actors going to work.
The show somehow manages to stay constantly fresh, despite a very limited environment and main plot. I mean try to make full seasons with a failed writer/detective, a wealthy executive who smokes pot and some lazy cartoonist...episode after episode, could get old fast. And all the while being entertaining, and dynamic, and funny...it manages to tell a story, and to unravel the personalities of the main characters. As the show comes to a premature end, we're left with coherent ripe characters, real individuals, who we know well, that have been consistent from the start til the end.
Finally, there's a wholesome quality to the show, amidst the pot smoking and laziness and waste and irresponsible behavior there's a certain sense of accomplishment, of having done good. You wouldn't say the show is one of mindless nihilism, there is purpose and underlying meaning to the actions and words that often fill the scenes. Specifically there is the idea that pushing yourself forward, outside your comfort zone and out in the unknown, will be hard work and unrewarding at first but will pay off eventually.
Jason Schwartzman is by far the star of the show - and I enjoy his character, although he's a bit two-dimensional. Zach Galifianakis plays a strange sort of character - who comes across as quite troubled and quirky at times, but he's not funny enough. Ted Danson is perfectly suited to his role - and his character is OK, but not that interesting really.
The show feels like it's written by writers who've just graduated college, rather than mature people who have mastered the art of writing comedy. The quality of the writing is very mixed, so some of it is really good, and some quite weak. The comedy only really reaches a high on the odd occasion - and those moments make the show worth watching.
I like what the show delivers overall, but I won't be shouting its praises from the rooftops. It's interesting, with an unusual atmosphere and characters that are watchable. 7/10