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Before you make snap judgments on the best new shows of the season, I beg that you spend some time watching HBO’s latest comedy series, Bored to Death. The show, created by Jonathan Ames, stars Jason Schwartzman (one of my favorites) as title character, Jonathan Ames, a novelist who is struggling to write his second novel. After his girlfriend, played by Olivia Thirlby, dumps him because of his addictions to smoking pot and white wine and the small fact that he never seems to change, he dives into reading a mystery novel about a private detective. On a whim, he creates a Craigslist ad, saying that he is an unlicensed private investigator, and before long, he’s off solving crimes, and finding missing people, and generally bumbling his way through case after case, for a super cheap price!
Zach Galifianakas plays Ames’ best friend Ray, a rather depressed and depressing cartoonist. While he wasn’t used to his full wolf-pack-speech potential, I think their friendship, and the arguments, and the conversations that they have were some of my favorite moments of the show (specifically the second episode – they have a conversation on a train that still makes me laugh out loud). Jonathan is employed by Ted Danson’s magazine editor George. He’s just completely over the top, and so not the Sam Malone you’re used to. Kristen Wiig and Peter Herman give great performances in episode 2, and it’s always nice to see Oliver Platt show up, being awesome!
When the pilot was made available for viewing online, I was immediately hooked – we’re talking 3 minutes in, I knew that this was the show for me. Great music, fast conversation, pop culture references, obscure history references. It’s very in the line of Rushmore and any Jim Jarmusch film, with some lovely Charlie Kaufman influence thrown in for good measure. Each half hour episode flew by, and by the end of the third (which finds Jonathan seeing a shrink, but not because he really wants to), I couldn’t wait to see what happens next. I will say that other reviewers and one of my close friends have said that the pilot is not stylized enough, so if you watch it and agree with them, promise you’ll give it a second episode, because it’s really something brilliant!
Series Premiere: Sunday, September 20th on HBO 9:30/8:30c