'Bored to Death: The Complete First Season'
(Jason Schwartzman, Zach Galifianakis, Ted Danson, et al / 2-Disc DVD / R / 2009 / HBO)
Overview: Meet Jonathan Ames: writer, romantic, unlicensed private detective. Moonlighting from his job as a novelist and writer for a New York magazine, Jonathan is looking to jettison some heavy emotional baggage (his girlfriend just dumped him, okay?) through an unusual second careerof cracking cases of missing persons, espionage and infidelity in the Big Apple.
DVD Verdict: Writer Jonathan Ames (Schwartzman) is depressed when his girlfriend moves out. So after seeing a Raymond Chandler novel, he goes onto Craigslist and advertises himself as a private eye: "I'm not licensed, but maybe I'm someone who can help you."
Surprisingly, there are some takers. Ames ends up taking on several small-time cases, mostly centering around people/things that are lost or stolen - a sister who vanished, a boyfriend who may be cheating, a script he accidentally lost himself, a stolen skateboard, a Russian convict who wants to find his true love, a blackmail tape, and lesbian con-artists who are, well, stealing something rather personal!
And while he does all this, Jonathan is dealing with the problems of his own life, such as his lingering love for his girlfriend and his stalled second novel. His friend Ray (Zak Galifianakis) is struggling with his controlling girlfriend Leah and his graphic novel career. And Jonathan has to babysit his insane boss George (Ted Danson), the owner of the magazine he writes for, who has his own set of weird personal problems.
'Bored to Death' is one of those comedy shows that doesn't really resemble anything else on TV - it has a distinctly arty, New York flavor, but avoids seeming pretentious just because its lead characters are so earnest. And while there are plenty of hilarious situations, it manages to never quite cross the line into total absurdity.
And the writing is really, really clever. Without resting too long on any one joke, the writers dabble in humor from colonics, therapists, sperm donation, vegans, pot, the Russian mafia and plenty of subtle literary references. It has plenty of hilarious lines and funny dialogue, particularly between George and, well, anybody! But the writers also include some powerful character-building moments, such as George's lingering love for his ex-wife.
Here's a list of the episodes: Episode 1: Stockholm Syndrome,
Episode 2: The Alanon Case, Episode 3: The Case of the Missing Screenplay, Episode 4: The Case of the Stolen Skateboard,
Episode 5: The Case of the Lonely White Dove, Episode 6: The Case of the Beautiful Blackmailer, Episode 7: The Case of the Stolen Sperm, and Episode 8: Take a Dive.
Schwartzman is charming as a rather dweeby writer who is desperately seeking some kind of happiness in his life, but isn't entirely sure how to find it - so he tries to help other people. Galifianakis is plenty of fun as his big hairy pal in dissatisfied maleness, and there are some great smaller turns by Bebe Neuwirth (as Ames' editor), Parker Posey and Oliver Platt. And of course, Ted Danson is freakin' wonderful as Ames' world-weary, mildly insane boss! [ES] These are all Widescreen Presentations (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, and come with the Special Features of:
Making of 'Bored to Death'
Jonathan Ames' Brooklyn