A friend of mine sent me the trailer to this new HBO comedy (dramedy?) a week ago or so and up until then I had never heard anything about it. The trailer looked promising so I figured I’d give the show a glance if I got a chance.
It stars Jason Schwartzman as Jonathon Ames, a journalist who has recently fallen out with his girlfriend (he smoked too much weed and drank too much white wine) and is having something of a crisis. He also likes to write fiction, though we can probably conclude he is better with journalism. One day, on a whim, he places an ad on Craigslist as an unlicensed P.I. — with all the books he reads about the subject, how hard can it be? Well if you’re as neurotic as Jonathon, it’s pretty hard.
Here is a strange case of a good show trapped inside of a bad show. Schwartzman and his supporting cast, including Zach Galifianakis and Ted Danson, are downright hilarious at times. And just looking at the list of future guest appearances — Kristen Wiig, Parker Posey, and Patton Oswald — makes me want to continue watching. Alas, though, one of the biggest parts of the show’s premise, the detective angle, is also its most boring. Ames as a detective seems only to be set up for comedic effect and is otherwise useless, adding nothing to the show in general. The writers need to either drop the angle altogether or somehow make it more necessary to the show’s development, and therefore more interesting.
Again, though, the show does make me laugh, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jason Schwartzman in this light. Most roles he’s played in the past, save for Cool Ethan in Slackers, have all been basically the same person. His range as an actor really hasn’t improved with this show but his comedic abilities definitely have — he now seems to have the same kind of comedic timing as perhaps Steve Carell! Galifianakis is great as usual and Ted Danson is, well, Ted Danson (you’re either going to love his part or not).
There definitely comes a point during viewing, though, where you will yearn for more rambling between Schwartzman, Galifianakis and Danson, and wish that the whole “story” part would hurry and get itself over with. But hopefully the show will improve — bad pilots happen all the time after all.
Bored to Death premieres Sunday, September 20 at 9:30 P.M. on HBO. Also available on iTunes.
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