Review: Bored to Death Season 1 DVD

STUDIO: HBO/Warner | CREATOR: Jonathan Ames | CAST: Jason Schwartzman, Zach Galifianiakis, Ted Danson, Heather Burns
RELEASE DATE: 9/21/10 | PRICE: DVD $39.98, Blu-ray $49.99
BONUSES: four commentaries, deleted scenes, two featurettes
SPECS: NR | 220 min. | Comedy | 1.78:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1; DTS Surround Sound | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

HBO’s comedy series Bored to Death certainly does not live up to its name.

The premise is simple: Writer Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman, Funny People), depressed and mopey after being dumped by his girlfriend, offers his services as an unlicensed private detective (which he bases on his history of reading Raymond Chandler novels). Hijinks, of course, ensue.

It’s all based loosely on things that have happened to the show’s creator and namesake, the novelist/essayist/Brooklynite Jonathan Ames.

In the first few episodes of the first season’s eight, it’s Schwartzman’s likability that hooks viewers in as much as the scenarios his noir-esque Jonathan finds himself embroiled in. The situations include tracking cheating boyfriends, finding a stolen skateboard and exposing a blackmailer.

Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover) plays Ames’s pal Ray, a broke artist who often chauffeurs Ames around in his girlfriend’s Subaru.

The characters all border on ones we’ve seen before in other TV shows and films, but in scenes where they could turn cruel or cliché, they instead take a sweet or vulnerable route. That quality is what makes Bored to Death so unexpectedly charming. Take magazine editor George Christopher (Ted Danson, TV’s Damages), for example, who you expect to be hardened but who’s actually the very antithesis of Devil Wears Prada editrix Miranda Priestly.

Guest stars pop up in nearly every episode – everyone from writer Sarah Vowell to actress Parker Posey to filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, who plays an exaggerated version of himself. (“Oh, he has very good hair,” George tells Jonathan.)

HBO includes a solid set of bonus features on the DVD. Some of the commentaries on a quartet of episodes can be tiresome — Aames points out every scene that happened to a friend and every object in the scene that came from his very own home. But watch the “Jonathan Ames’ Brooklyn” featurette first, it’s a nice recap of Brooklyn and gives a real feel for Ames, his style of writing and what makes the show so likable.

That piece and the show itself might also inspire you to consider moving to Brooklyn… or at least watching season two.

 

Buy or Rent Bored to Death: The Complete First Season
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About Jennifer

Jennifer Netherby is a freelance writer who has written about movies, music and technology for Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard and Video Business, where she worked as a reporter for nine years. She’s addicted to British crime dramas and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.