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Bored to Death: Premiere Review

Posted by Christopher Moltisanti on September 23, 2009

I haven’t seen them all, but it’s going to be tough for any new comedy to top “Bored to Death” this season. This sensitive and quirky noir comedy is a breath of fresh air (plus, it has a great soundtrack).

Jason Schartzman delivers a wonderfully understated and, well, Jason Schwartzman-esque performance as Jonathan Ames, who professes heartbreak but projects apathy when his girlfriend leaves him for not cutting back on the pot and alcohol. As she leaves, we get one of the many great exchanges in the pilot:

Girlfriend: “Pot is not healthy.”

Jonathan: “They give it to cancer patients.”

Girlfriend: “You don’t have cancer.”


Jonathan: “Not yet.”

Ted Danson, who I would argue is one of the most versatile actors working in TV today, enters the fray shortly thereafter as Jonathan’s alcoholic socialite boss. Zach Galifianakis is solid as Jonathan’s friend Ray.

In short, these (very self-absorbed) characters are bored. George, bored from “a thousand dull conversations,” smokes pot. Jonathan smokes pot, drinks and decides to become a private detective. His first case is to find a missing woman, who, after paying a few bribes and taking a shot of whiskey, he finds tied to a bed in a seedy hotel room with a meth addict. While it’s all wildly funny, it also serves as an indictment of life — a life so drab that brushes with death and the law are not only preferable to normalcy, but also the only reliable sources of entertainment; a life where an inability to lie dooms relationships (as George says); a life where being a “disappointment” and having “no future” is really no big deal (Ray). It’s sad stuff, but also fodder for some very good comedy.

“We enthrall, and then we disappoint,” George says to Jonathan. I suspect this show won’t do the latter.

Grade: A-


One Response to “Bored to Death: Premiere Review”

  1. Mr. Feeny said

    Darn it. After we were in such agreement on “Modern Family.”

    I was lulled to sleep by this show (didn’t want to use the obvious pun). I can’t think of any scene that made me laugh, unless it had Ted Danson in it. I completely agree with you on that. From his work in Cheers to Curb to Damages…stellar actor.

    But what is this? It’s not a comedy. Nothing is, as you say, “wildly funny.” Perhaps mildly entertaining. It’s a decently-scripted show with a clever premise. But where are the laughs? The problem is the writers are trying to make it too real. Real life isn’t funny. The jokes are just conversations. The type of jokes you smile at when you’re having lunch with friends. Not the type you set aside 30 minutes for. I might watch it again, only because it’s after Curb.

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