Brooklyn isn’t just the setting of Jonathan Ames’ stoner comedy Bored To Death. Brooklyn—or at least the media’s conception of the New York borough as a hipster Mecca populated solely by hyper-literate, hyper-verbal bohemian types in skinny jeans, trading bodily fluids and indie-rock references—is the show’s dominant sensibility. The HBO show will consequently strike some as exquisitely hip, and others as oppressively hip. Here’s a quick test: If the prospect of Jim Jarmusch riding a bike in circles around Jason Schwartzman in a giant loft while discussing Charlie Kaufman sounds unbearable, then Bored To Death isn’t for you.
The eternally adorable Schwartzman stars as Jonathan Ames, a struggling novelist who advertises his services as an unlicensed private detective on Craigslist after girlfriend Olivia Thirlby dumps him for smoking too much pot and drinking too much white wine. In spite of his lack of qualifications or training, Schwartzman lines up a steady stream of clients, though some of his cases are so small-time that Encyclopedia Brown and/or the Mystery Team would turn them down. One particularly small-potatoes case finds him searching for the skateboard of a client’s son.
Bored To Death is ostensibly a detective show, but hunting down clues and cracking cases invariably takes a back seat to highbrow stoner buddy shenanigans involving Schwartzman and his best friend Zack Galifianakis, a sexually frustrated cartoonist, and Schwartzman’s boss, a daffy publishing mogul played with a deliciously light touch by Ted Danson, who hasn’t been this frisky and fun since playing a dancing lawyer in Body Heat. Like The Long Goodbye for the McSweeney’s generation, Bored To Death riffs on the detective genre with giddy playfulness. Schwartzman’s innate likeability helps makes some of the more precious literary conceits palatable; this is the kind of writerly, pop-culture-addled show where a male prostitute recommends emulating Klaus Kinski’s omnisexuality as a way for Danson’s magazine to increase circulation. Bored To Death is the ultimate hangout show, an inspired, inconsequential lark populated by characters with whom it’d be fun to share a one-hitter, or a glass or three of pinot grigio.
Key features: Audio commentaries featuring Ames, Schwartzman, and a rotating cast of episode directors and guest stars. Also, two deleted scenes and various making-of featurettes.