Ranking the Shows I Watch – 11: Bored to Death

25 Oct

Bored to Death really isn’t like any other show on television, and I like that about it.  I struggled through the whole first season on how to place the show – where to group it, trying to figure out in what genre it fit.  During the second season, I just pretty much said to hell with that and just enjoyed it for what it was, and it was easier because the second season was significantly stronger than the first.

What is it?  Well… It’s a very dry comedy, as befits the Jason Schwartzman personality, and the Wes Anderson movies with which Schwartzman is often connected (or for that matter I Heart Huckabees to some degree in which he stars).  It’s incredibly New York and Brooklyn in particular, and the setting is very prominent (though certainly not a character – settings can never be characters, as I’ve argued with certain friends).  It’s absolutely a bit precious, and a bit madcap.  There’s a lot of drinking and a lot of smoking, but in a very different way than on, say, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  Where It’s Always Sunny has a super low-brow feel, Bored to Death is very high-brow.  It’s Always Sunny cast members own an Irish pub and drink beer all day.  Bored to Death features members of the literary world who drink white wine.  If noir comedy was a genre, this would certainly fit in.

Ted Danson is wonderful as Jason Schwartzman’s editor and mentor, as part of the great Ted Danson revival of the ‘00s (featuring Bored to Death, Damages, and Curb Your Enthusiasm and now most bizarrely CSI).  John Hodgman is also wonderful as a recurring character literary critic who bashed Jason Schwartzman’s first novel, and is his rival.

The show is essentially just three characters – Schwartzman, Danson, and Zach Galifianakis, who plays Schwartzman’s best friend, who writes his own comic, Super Ray, who fights with his magically enlarged penis.  While normally a show with such a small cast feels limiting, I never get that sense in Bored to Death.   In addition, for a show that feels like it should be more of a smile and enjoy comedy like Entourage, I find myself laughing out loud frequently during episodes.

Addendum:  The first three episodes of the third season have been outstanding, even more consistent so far than the second so now’s the time to at least give the show a try – watching episodes out of order is not really a problem.

Why it’s this high:  It’s unlike any other show on television – and while I can see a lot of people not liking it, I’m probably somewhere around the perfect audience for it

Why it’s not higher:  Three character shows are always a little small for my liking

Best episode of the most recent season:  “I’ve Been Living Like a Demented God”  – this episode involves a wild goose chase in which Jason Schwartzman must track down a rare book which was pawned off by Professor F. Murray Abraham to his drug dealer – John Hodgman figures prominently, and he follows Schwartzman, who follows drug dealers, until they catch him, and the drug dealers follow them.  Hijinks ensue.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: