When you’ve got three comic practitioners as gifted as Ted Danson, Jason Schwartzman and Zach Galifianakis, you’d have to have a pretty lousy script for a show to go wrong. Fortunately, the writing in Bored To Death – for the most part – lives up to the talent on display. There are a few more comic set pieces in the second season, which gives the series a greater sense of impetus, apart from that, though, it’s more of the same formula from season one: Take three amiable losers, sprinkle in plenty of arch, self-deprecating humor (“I think my wife’s having an affair. She’s been suppressing a smile for weeks”), add a dash of literary know-how and leave it to the three main actors’ (and the stellar cast of occasional and regular guests’) expert sense of nuanced performance and comic timing to create a hit. At least with the critics. Some have suggested Bored To Death is too knowing, too self-congratulatory. And there are times when it teeters dangerously on the line. Usually, though, it comes down on the right side. Just.
The storylines continue to revolve around Schwartzman’s portrayal of Jonathan Ames (which happens to be the name of the guy who wrote the series too), a failed/failing author moonlighting as an unlicensed private detective to supplement his meager freelancing/creative writing teaching income. It’s a smart device that allows Schwartzman’s character to be placed in plenty of classic farce situations (hiding in the closet while Danson’s character, George, does the dirty with his ex-wife; running from a police raid on an S&M brothel clad in full-leather gimp suit) without completely destroying the bounds of reality. Schwartzman does his trademark mix of baffled ingénue/wise fool beautifully in a role seemingly custom-made for him. Danson continues his startling reinvention as comedy’s hippest veteran, and Galifianakis is, well, Galifianakis – imbuing his character, full-on loser Ray, with an irresistible blend of edgy anger and touching openness. Great casting and sharp writing make this one of the smartest comedies around.