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Bored to Death aired from September 2009 until ? on HBO.
A Review from Variety
Posted: Thurs., Sep. 17, 2009, 2:16pm PT
Bored to Death
(Series -- HBO, Sun. Sept. 20, 9:30 p.m.)
By BRIAN LOWRY
Filmed in New York by Dakota Pictures, 3 Arts Entertainment and Fair Harbor Prods. Executive producers, Jonathan Ames, Sarah Condon, Stephanie Davis, Dave Becky, Troy Miller; co-executive producers, Tracey Baird, Donick Cary, Mark Baker, Martin Gero; producers, Anna Dokoza, Michael Stricks; director, Alan Taylor; writer, Ames;
Jonathan Ames - Jason Schwartzman
George Christopher - Ted Danson
Ray Hueston - Zach Galifianakis
Suzanne - Olivia Thirlby
Jonathan Ames' literary voice infuses HBO's new comedy "Bored to Death," and that's mostly a bad thing. While there is something distinctive (if not particularly original) about his neurotic Jewish alter ego played by Jason Schwartzman, the series proves too precious and quirky for its own good. Of the handful of episodes previewed, only the third -- which conspicuously departs from the basic premise -- exhibits the madcap attitude that the first two reach for and miss, and by then, it's a little late to stave off unflattering reviews invoking the title.
Schwartzman is a writer rather lazily named Jonathan Ames, a blocked novelist rendered even more impotent by the departure of his girlfriend ("Juno's" Olivia Thirlby) because he drinks too much (just white wine, he insists) and smokes too much pot. Impulsively -- and if we're to buy the title, mostly out of boredom -- he posts an ad on Craigslist volunteering his services as an amateur detective.
The ad yields predictably minor cases -- the first involving a missing college student, the second an investigation into whether a man is being unfaithful. That both clients are young women seems to dovetail with the protagonist's mix of horniness, loneliness and whininess.
The third installment, notably, drops this formula, as Jonathan is approached by offbeat director Jim Jarmusch to work on a screenplay, yielding broadly comic results. But then it's back to stakeouts and finding missing skateboards -- the kind of cases that seldom commanded Sam Spade's attention.
The tone also veers unevenly with Ames' supporting cast, which includes his sexually frustrated married friend (if that's not redundant) Ray, played by "The Hangover"-enhanced Zach Galifianakis, and Jonathan's substance-abusing, womanizing editor George (Ted Danson). In Danson's outlandish character, frankly, resides a livelier, potentially more interesting and significantly better show. Alas, he drops in all too briefly, though his screen time does seem to expand in later episodes.
Ultimately, "Bored" feels like a rather wan, younger, low-stakes version of Woody Allen's "Manhattan Murder Mystery" -- and winds up demonstrating the gap between literature and television. Schwartzman's performance, in particular, feels too stiff and mannered -- a writer's first-person narrative awkwardly unleashed, with all its attendant quirks and eccentricities. Nor does it help that the show is paired with "Curb Your Enthusiasm," inasmuch as its own focus on trifles pales by comparison.
By that measure, this show isn't terrible but on most fronts proves a failed experiment -- the feeling of ennui isn't necessarily fatal, mercifully, but the rewards are inconsistent enough to curb your enthusiasm.
Camera, Vanja Cernjul; production designer, Rick Butler; editor, Malcolm Jamieson; casting, Kim Misela, Beth Bowling. RUNNING TIME: 30 MIN.
A Review from USA TODAY
Bored to Death' gets one thing right: The title
Updated 9/18/2009 2:18 PM |
ABOUT THE SHOW
Bored to Death
HBO, Sunday, 9:30 ET/PT
* 1/2 (out of four)
By Robert Bianco, USA TODAY
Sure, you could make the easy pun on Bored to Death's name, but that would be as indolent, indulgent and humor-free as the show itself.
Created by novelist Jonathan Ames, Bored stars Rushmore's Jason Schwartzman as a struggling novelist called — just to make the show a bit more precious — Jonathan Ames. Having been dumped by his girlfriend for drinking too much wine and smoking too much pot, Jonathan decides to shake up his life by offering his unlicensed services as a private eye.
The amateur, somewhat bumbling detective is an old plot standby, used multiple times on the big screen by Danny Kaye, Bob Hope and Red Skelton, and more recently (and to better effect) on TV by Andy Richter. The difference is that those characters weren't losers; they were underachievers who just lacked opportunity and encouragement. As listlessly played by Schwartzman, Jonathan is a drug-dealing, drug-addicted, whiny, wimpy, willowy twerp. Loser would be a step up.
Bored is so clearly pleased with itself that it seems almost churlish to point out that in the real world, Jonathan's blithe, addled incompetence would be a threat to all involved — or that in a show making a less self-conscious effort to be indie-cred sophisticated, having a woman enjoy being kidnapped, bound and gagged by her meth-head boyfriend would be seen as wildly offensive. But we're supposed to know the show is being ironically detached, because it never musters enough energy to be anything else.
What little amusement there is here is provided by two excellent, generally wasted actors: Ted Danson as Jonathan's sometimes boss, and Zach Galifianakis as his best friend. But overall, Bored is TV that's tailor-made for people who hate TV. It won't make you laugh, but it will make you feel hipper than the room, and for some, that will be enough.
For everyone else, watch HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm Sunday and let Bored take care of itself.
A Review from the LA Times
The HBO comedy series starring Jason Schwartzman is about a writer turned private detective.
September 18, 2009|
Robert Lloyd, TELEVISION CRITIC
Jonathan Ames, a Brooklyn-based writer of fiction and nonfiction, has turned his long short story "Bored to Death" into an HBO situation comedy, also titled, though less aptly, "Bored to Death." Each version revolves around a character named Jonathan Ames, a Brooklyn-based writer of fiction and nonfiction who is having a hard time finishing his second novel and is drinking too much white wine -- which is his idea of drinking less alcohol -- and smoking too much pot. As the series opens, his girlfriend is moving out and -- sad, stymied and under the influence of a Raymond Chandler novel -- he goes onto Craigslist to advertise his services as a private detective: "I'm not licensed but maybe I'm someone who can help you."
The short story and the TV show, which premieres Sunday night, share a premise, some scenes and even some dialogue, but before long they go their very separate ways. The original story is a fairly commonplace exercise in postmodern noir in which an idle gesture leads to violence and murder; the series, which is easily my favorite of the fall season, is something much better -- a shaggy-dog comedy that floats on a cloud of fuzzy romantic optimism, the underlying energy of a location-shot fairy tale New York City, and the talents of its art-house leads: Jason Schwartzman, who plays Jonathan; Zach Galifianakis as cartoonist friend Ray, inspired by Dean Haspiel, the real Ames' collaborator on the graphic novel "The Alcoholic"; and Ted Danson, who plays Jonathan's other friend, a sybaritic, fitfully spiritual old-school magazine editor conceived as equal parts George Plimpton and Christopher Hitchens. (The character's name is George Christopher.)
Schwartzman, who is small and thin and dark, does not resemble Ames, who is tall and bald and buff (and a dozen years older). But the actor embodies the sound of the writer's published prose, which is oddly stiff and formal, almost as if he's afraid of doing injury to the language. Similarly, Jonathan is mostly a study in demureness and good manners, his dialogue marked by such figures as, "Excuse me" and "I don't want to hurt your feelings, but . . . ." This sympathy runs through the series, which displays a kind of respectful regard for the many varieties of human strangeness.
For a Page dedicated to Bored to Death go to http://timvp.com/boredtodeath.html
To see some clips from Bored to Death go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=bored+to+death+hbo&aq=f
To watch the opening credits go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPSb8yFGZ-E and to hear the full theme song of Bored to Death go to http://www.televisiontunes.com/Bored_to_Death_-_Full.html
ï¿½ Date: Wed September 2, 2009 ï¿½ Filesize: 23.4kb ï¿½ Dimensions: 320 x 240 ï¿½
Keywords: Bored to Death Cast