'Bored to Death' continually restores my faith in TV

bored-to-death-baconImage Credit: Barry Wetcher/HBOI usually don’t have my act together enough to watch Bored to Death on time (HBO, Sunday nights, 10-10:30 ET). This week was different! So here I am posting about “Forty-Two Down,” which guest-starred Kristen Wiig as a wino wackjob and Kevin Bacon as his “highly evolved” (because he can’t grow a beard) self.

Bored to Death is a true delight. All of it. ALL THE TIME. I get so wrapped up in the details — thoughtful cinematography, my own neighborhood used as a romping ground (can’t hurt!), a never-obtrusive score — that when it all wraps up, it just seems to me like the entire episode was a perfect 30-minute symphony … and that I’ll be much more likely to mentally cope with Monday because of it. Last night, I marveled most at the unexpectedly sweet asides among the characters. This happens all the time — Bored to Death operates on a Wes Anderson-esque plane of refined absurdity rarely achieved in real life, let alone on television. This week’s episode just had so many of these subtle, often non-verbal moments:

++Jonathan after George told him he’d just written his best column: “Oh, that’s wonderful!”

++Zach Galifianakis’ eyes guiltily scanning crazy Jennifer (Wiig)’s body as he began to break up with her: “I hate to … spring this on you, but …”

++Jonathan to his client’s husband (Ajay Naidu), whom he followed into a diner: “Well, I just met you, but you don’t seem like such a nincompoop to me.” And the fact that his conversation-starter was A CROSSWORD PUZZLE!

++The wistful sideways gaze Jonathan gives just after ruining this man’s life, as the host of a wacky Indian restaurant asks him, “Table for one?”

++The way George followed up his devastatingly bleak “Print … is … dead” speech to Jonathan’s writing class with a soft, pensive “Questions?” (He’s so theatrical, like traveling motivational speaker Mark Twain!)

++George’s impromptu life lesson for Jonathan, delivered almost as an afterthought: “Oh yeah. In life, when in doubt, never meddle. It only causes problems.”

++George’s delighted look of approval for the man who just held him at gunpoint after hearing that the gun wasn’t even loaded and had been in the bottom of a drawer for years.

Maybe I’m going overboard a little here. Whatever! Since when am I in a good mood about television? Go with it!

Oh, one more thing, since I clearly can’t get enough of Ted Danson’s George Christopher. My favorite moment of his was when he answered a call on his land line while using a cell phone, then hung up on the wrong person — it was excellent foreshadowing for his later admission that sometimes, when he’s stoned, “the left and right sides of my body just don’t … communicate with each other.” To die for.

I am dead.

Who else is loving Bored to Death this season? Are you happy about Ajay Naidu joining the cast as George’s driver?

Annie on Twitter: @EWAnnieBarrett

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  • Shane

    I couldn’t agree with you more!!!!!!! I love this season!! What an amazing improvement over the first season. The show is firing on all cylinders this season. The characters are all likeable, the plots are great and the three guys have great chemistry with each other. I really like the friendship between the two characters. I’m so sick of shows trying to strike such a spiteful and sarcastic tone like The Office and Modern Family. Bored to Death manages to be clever and endearing at the same time. The only thing I don’t quite agree with is the comparison to Wes Anderson films. BTD kind of lacks the condescending tone of those films where the characters are much colder,and bitter towards each other and the stink of elitism in the writing is so evident. I just don’t see that in BTD. I think the show is accessible, clever and down-to-earth at the same time.

  • Ty

    What I want to know Ms Barrett is what happened to the Boardwalk Empire recaps? It’s been so good these past few weeks!

    • llevinso

      I asked that on another recap thread! Where have they been!?!?!

  • Josie

    Umm…isn’t it Ajay Naidu who is playing the driver?

  • Dan

    I love this show too – Jason Schwartzman is hilarious and it feels like a brand new 25 minute Woody Allen movie every week. But early Woody. And Jason S. is clearly not riffing on Woody – he does his own thing which makes it that much better.
    Anyways – glad to hear other people love it too!!

  • Josie

    I completely agree with everything in this post. I wasn’t sure the first episode back this season, but then that last scene with George getting Jonathan out of the suit appeared. This was a very nearly perfect episode. I would call it perfect, but I’m not that confident in my own opinion.

    Also, I love that George’s column is called ‘By George’ makes me laugh so hard.

  • E.R.

    Thank you for posting this! I love Bored to Death, not just in the way that one becomes a casual fan of a TV show, but in the way one loves a particularly delightful niece or nephew. This show is hilarious, and this season, strangely life-affirming even as it deals with some fairly bleak issues. And yeah, Ted Danson is genius in this role!

  • Francisco

    Thanks for the article. I agree with you 100%! Can this show get a weekly recap now?

  • Jaepeaus

    I love the show. The first season was so funny, but this season has been KILLER. Like you said all funny all the time. The episode a few weeks ago, when Jonathan gets kidnapped was OUTSTANDING. I was laughing like the entire time! Ted Dansen is so good it’s almost ridiculous. Best new thing I’ve seen on TV in a long time… I don’t think you’re going overboard at all :)

  • llevinso

    I just started watching this show since it comes on after Boardwalk Empire (where the heck did those recaps go by the way?) and I love it! My favorite character so far is probably George, but they all have their moments :)

  • Leisle

    I completely agree with all of the above. Spectacular writing and the absurdity cracks me up. Love the cast, the new driver, the heart. It is not replusive, it is just funny. The characters try their best as they step and fall over their own best intentions.

  • A Brady

    Bored to Death is great. I went crazy when I saw the restaurant scene as I had eaten at one in NYC that had the exact same decor! May have been the same place. The food rocked.

  • Nancy

    I’m glad to see that someone is writing about this spectacular show. We got HBO a few months ago to watch the “Pacific” WW II miniseries, and I was happy to discover “Bored to Death.” (My husband loves the show as well.) I really feel the Jason Schwartzman has hit his stride here; he was brilliant in “Rushmore”, but has struggled to find something worthy of his talents. And Ted Danson and the rest of the cast are stellar. Even the smallest supporting and walk-on characters are brilliant. The absurdity and comedic drama of each episode (not to mention the intertwining of multiple plots) remind me of the best of “Seinfeld”. I hope it gains in viewship and stays on the air for awhile.

    Hip, witty, intellectual satire at its finest. Plus lots of really crass tasteless humor, but well done.

    “Are you a Vulcan or an elf?”

  • KAT

    I am absolutely delighted each week at the characters total and sincere acceptance of each other and each other’s insanity. Between this and his role on Damages- Ted Danson has proven his continued talent and relevance.

  • che

    Amazing show having an amazing season. I really hope it gets some awards buzz, especially for Ted Danson, who has been incredible with his material ie the cancer storyline.

    This show really charms the pants of anyone. The writing has improved dramatically in the second season and as a result the dynamic between the 3 male actors is a joy to watch.

    Also Zach used to annoy me in the first season but he was the best part of the last episode. Love how the Super Ray success has made his character so enjoyable.

  • JuanArt

    LOVE.THIS.SHOW. Perfect programming for the weekends in the fall. My Turkish guest had to put down her last chapters of ‘Girl Drago Tattoo’ to pay attention to the show. That’s saying something!

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