Monday, November 09, 2009

Bored to Death, "Take a Dive": What's my name?

Quick spoilers for last night's "Bored to Death" season finale coming up just as soon as I role-play Nosferatu...
"You think we learned anything tonight?" -Jonathan
"No. But that's okay. It's good to stay in the dark about things. Keeps life interesting." -George
As that exchange suggests, there really isn't a whole lot of depth to "Bored to Death," but in episodes like this one, it can be an entertaining enough trifle to compensate for its lack of ambition.

Just as the show tends to subvert private eye cliches by putting a neurotic Jewish pot-smoker into the trenchcoat, here we got to see a traditional boxing movie as seen through the eyes of three men not really qualified for it. (Well, two; George seemed pretty good, and he does already know krav maga.)

There were a few hints of growth - Jonathan moves on to a new girlfriend and decides he'd rather write about his private eye career than this kama sutra book he proposed, George finds a way to get back in with his ex (even if he has to be humiliated in public to do it), and even Ray seems on better terms with his girlfriend - but mainly "Take a Dive" was an excuse for more goofy humor. We got Jonathan finally seeming genuinely hard-boiled (but only because his blackmailer was so inept), Jonathan and Ray's exchange about Stella (Jonathan: "She's sexy as hell, smart, Jewish, has a great vaporizer..." Ray: "Sounds like your mother."), Jonathan using his New York Times book review as smack talk during the fight, and just the spectacle of Oliver Platt as Antrem in the boxing ring.

Plus, the episode just piled on the New York hipster guest star quotient, with Sarah Vowell (as the interviewer) and Todd Barry (as the blackmailer) joining the likes of John Hodgman, Platt and the rest.

I don't know that the series ever quite entirely found itself this year, but I laughed enough to want to give it a look again next season.

What did everybody else think?

15 comments:

Michael said...

I think the best compliment I can give this episode is that it was actually a lot of fun. You can't really say that about most of the episodes this season. Some have been funny/funnier but none as fun.

I also thought that it was goodto see a confident, dare I say optimistic, Ames for once.

Anonymous said...

I think this show seems like a good candidate for an Office/Parks and Recreation-style "whoa, where'd that come from" jump in quality between seasons one and two. The last three episodes were a huge improvement over the first few.

Jon Weisman said...

I really thought this show was quite charming.

zodin2008 said...

I like this show a lot, but found this episode the weakest to date. The whole boxing thing just seemed silly, pointless and completely out of touch with the rest of this series. Mainly it seemed a device to bring the three leads together more as some oddball, NY, three stooges.

Manton said...

I really enjoyed this episode, and feel like the latest two really took a bit of a turn for the better. I always liked the show, but now it feels more structured and focused. Let's just hope it continues next season, because it has a lot of potential.

Man, what a great time for TV comedies all of a sudden!

Mike Cavaliere said...

Definitely a light and silly show, but maybe that's why I like it. It looks sleek and pretty, the cast is charming and just the dynamic between the friends, the naive, completely honest openness between them - it makes for something pretty enjoyable, if not entirely look-forward-to worthy.

I think Season 2 could really come together. There's just so much there in the boredom idea, craving action, the experience of living, when all you're used to doing is reading books and staring at computer screens.

Steve Wirzba said...

Directed by Paul Feig! Woo!

I feel like this episode really helped cement the Schwartzman-Danson-Galifianakis trio. Watching them cheer each other on during the match and such really made me feel like these are characters i'd like to see more of next season. its true - theres not a lot of depth to it, but what they do they do well. This is a chuckler of a show that lilts along like a toy sailboat.

Anonymous said...

I really like this show but find it hard to explain why, to others or myself. Basically, its just kind of entertaining and pleasant. I actually didn't think this episode was that great compared to some of the others, but it was a decent end to the season.

James Kang said...

I hope this show continues for as long as Ames, Schwartzman and company are into it, but they've got to do a better job on their season finales. There wasn't enough Zach Galafianakis. I don't remember any delightfully eccentric monologues by George Christopher here. The final scene felt flat, like they didn't know how to end the season.

Bored to Death's weakest episodes are the ones co-written by Martin Gero (he also co-wrote ep. 6). Not because he's a bad writer, but because in those episodes, the show forgets that it's a comedy. Gero's background is in writing dramas, which could explain why his episodes aren't as funny. I laughed here, but not as much as I usually do.

I can see from the season finale that the show doesn't want to tell a series-long story and that's fine. To improve the show, I would suggest they use the Curb model of season-long stories. That would make the show feel like it's building toward something more meaningful and make the season finales more satisfying.

David said...

"I feel like this episode really helped cement the Schwartzman-Danson-Galifianakis trio."

Agreed. I think the show found its stride when it finally put the 3 of them together.

LA said...

I recognized Sarah Vowell before they even showed her face. Her voice is unmistakable.

Fun times. Not a lot to say other than I echo the sentiment that the three of them together is the best formula.

M.A.Peel said...

It has the best title sequence and song on tv today.

Ted Danson really adds the spark. The inter-generational relationship between George and Jonathan and Zack is pretty distinct on the tv landscape.

Chris said...

BTW, the boxing sequence was filmed in the Masonic Hall in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, NY. It was nice to catch that, since I just produced an event of my own in that space last month.

Matthew L said...

In the space of one minute, the show gave us both Sarah Vowell and John Hodgman. That fact alone cemented my love for this show.

GregM said...

I'll have to check this ep out--I watched the first three episodes and was disappointed. As a guy who writes comic noir, I was predisposed to love this show--I just think there's enough noir.