HollywoodChicago.com RSS   Facebook   HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter   Free Giveaway E-mail   

TV Review: Jason Schwartzman Still Can’t Save ‘Bored to Death’

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
No votes yet

CHICAGO – “Hung” returned for a third season this week and every year that program comes back, I think “Boy, I like Thomas Jane, maybe this is the year that this disappointing show turns around.” And, just like that program, every year that “Bored to Death” lands on my desk, I think “Boy, I like Jason Schwartzman, maybe this is the year that this disappointing show turns around.” And, just like “Hung,” I’m disappointed yet again.

HollywoodChicago.com Television Rating: 1.5/5.0
Television Rating: 1.5/5.0

Like every HBO show (with the possible exception of “How to Make It in America”), “Bored to Death” comes with a strong ensemble despite my overall disappointment with the program. In fact, the casting agent for “Bored to Death” did the best pre-production work on the show. Jason Schwartzman, Zack Galifianakis, Ted Danson — you couldn’t ask for three comedic leads with better timing. So why isn’t “Bored to Death” funnier? Why doesn’t it ever click in a thoroughly engaging way? Why is it always on the verge of “almost” working? Why am I tired of waiting for it to work and now realizing that it just never will?

Bored to Death
Bored to Death
Photo credit: HBO

Jonathan (Schwartzman) continues to try and be the most hipster private detective in the history of noir, taking a case in the premiere that sees the author (who just released his second book) framed for murder and even runs into next week’s episode with a cliffhanger. Meanwhile, George (Danson) has opened a restaurant and is trying to reconnect with his daughter, who catches him in a moral quandary when she introduces her new boyfriend. Finally, Ray (Galifianakis) also reconnects with a child, although this one is the baby who resulted as a product of the theft of Ray’s sperm from a sperm bank.

Bored to Death
Bored to Death
Photo credit: HBO

The biggest problem with “Bored to Death” is a tonal one courtesy of creator of Jonathan Ames. The noir elements are sometimes clever, but just as often jarring and annoying. The show simply doesn’t exist in the real world — people don’t talk or act like this. It’s exaggerated. And then it’s not. Scenes that seem like hipster posturing are followed by scenes of genuine emotion and the tonal inconsistency is startling.

Everything about “Bored to Death” is jarring. Dialogue doesn’t click. Music choices seem wrong. It’s as if the producers and writers are trying to keep viewers off their game and a little on edge but to what end? I understand the desire to make an edgy comedy but there’s a fine line between edgy & original and annoying & silly and “Bored to Death” too often crosses it.

So why not give up entirely? The cast. Jason Schwartzman has evolved after a few years of delivering similar performances to his breakthrough in “Rushmore” and he’s quite good here, matched by excellent supporting performances from Galifianakis and Danson, two of the funniest guys on TV. Sadly, they’re not given the kind of material they deserve here. The “Ray meets his son” plotline is woefully written with nothing but ineffective jokes. You can hear them hit the ground with a thud. Despite the strong work by the three leads, “Bored to Death” too often produces a thud.

The second season of “Bored to Death” was recently released on Blu-ray and DVD from HBO and while they may be struggling to find creatively consistent half-hour programs, they still rule when it comes to TV on BD. This is a minor set as the second season ran only eight episodes but the program looks great in HD and the small set includes quality special features, including deleted scenes and commentaries. Fans of the show will be satisfied. If there are any left.

“Bored to Death” stars Jason Schwartzman, Zack Galifianakis, Ted Danson, and Heather Burns. It was created by Jonathan Ames. The third season premieres on HBO on October 10th, 2011 at 8pm CST. The second season was released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 27th, 2011.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

Anonymous's picture

I think the show is great

I think the show is great personally. Better than all the network TV crap… Like Two and a half men, Big Bang Theory, How I met your mother, and all that garbage. Plus it actually is funny. Just because it doesn’t mesh with your humor doesn’t mean this show doesn’t have fans.

amanda's picture

One of the funniest shows on TV today

I agree that this is one of the funniest shows on television as of today. It never fails to make me laugh. I hope this would have more seasons to come.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing


  • Speech & Debate (stage play)

    CHICAGO – “Speech & Debate,” the latest production from the mighty Brown Paper Box Company, continues their tradition of thinking outside that “box” in presenting storefront theater that makes a statement and a difference. “Speech” goes inside America by showcasing the outsiders… those who create art because they can’t get it right in real life. This non-equity Chicago stage play premiere is finely tuned and wonderfully acted, and runs through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • We're Gonna Be Okay

    CHICAGO – The 1960s were a time of historical social transition. The movements – civil rights, feminist, gay rights – all had roots in that tumultuous decade. The Chicago premiere of Basil Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” echoes all of those movements in its characters, and collides them against the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the American Theater Company through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.


HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter


HollywoodChicago.com Top Ten Discussions