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Bored to Death: The Case of the Stolen Skateboard

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Oct 12th 2009 11:26AM

Parker Posey
(S01E04) "I'm almost done. Just three more tugs!" - Ray

After I screened the first three episodes of Bored to Death early last month, I had resigned to not watch it ever again. For the most part, save for Ted Danson's performance, there wasn't much I found funny about the show. Add in last week's weirdo installment featuring Jim Jarmusch and I wasn't sure what to think. Given the premise of the show, last week's episode didn't even feel like the same program. It was like they took a script from something else and just had the Bored to Death ensemble act it out.

But then HBO went and renewed it for a second season and I figured, hey - maybe I'll cover the rest of the season for TV Squad. Well, I'm glad I did. Despite numerous shortcomings, "The Case of the Stolen Skateboard" is easily the best episode of the series thus far. And Ted Danson? Still very funny.

With Jonathan back on the prowl for cases, Ray's girlfriend Lea offered up a conundrum for Jonathan to investigate. Her friend Allison (played by Parker Posey) had a son and his skateboard was stolen. At first, it didn't seem like much of a case, especially since Allison knew that Francisco, a neighborhood bully, was the person who took it. She obviously needed some muscle, not a fake private detective, to get the skateboard back and as a result, Jonathan didn't really seem like the right man for the job.

However, Jonathan and Allison's brief flirtation and kiss created enough intrigue for me to care if he succeeded or not. It started to fall flat, though, when we learned he was doing to case pro bono. With his already low (or in this case, non-existent) fees coupled with his "bribe everyone" mentality, how does Jonathan ever expect to make this business profitable? He's three for three on cases and has nothing to show for it. Not even a go at Allison in bed, since her sick son took precedence over any hanky-panky. He can't even get paid in sex properly.

A few more thoughts...

  • As funny as Ray's predicament in this episode was, why exactly is he even in the show? Other than being Jonathan's unreliable conscience, is "funny b-plot where Ray gives lesbians his sperm" reason to keep him around?
  • Who exactly is Bebe Neuwirth's Caroline? I got the impression she was a rival editor trying to sign Jonathan away from George. If that's the case, why wouldn't he go? All George does is smoke Jonathan's pot and put him in endless think fast situations - You're a celebrity interviewer! You're a food critic!
  • Highlight of the episode? Definitely the skateboard chase as all the teenagers came after Jonathan, who was riding his skateboard like a tiny bobsled. Reminded me of the classic scene from Seinfeld when George was being chased by all the elderly folks on his Hov-A-Round.

As for George, like I said, Danson is the real shining point here. I'm not sure which moment was creepier - his recollection as a boy of being turned on by a prepubescent girl with tiny blonde armpit hairs or his recent arousal by a grown woman with some serious Paula Cole "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone" underarm bushes.

Four episodes in, I'm curious to know what everyone else thinks. Was HBO's renewal justified? Does Bored to Death have longevity potential? Or are you bored already?

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I got the impression that Bebe Neuworth is Jonathan's literary agent since she was asking him about how his second novel's coming. I don't think she's trying to steal him away from George as much as she's trying to make him write his followup since they've said that he's struggling to complete it in most of the episodes so far.

October 13 2009 at 8:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I enjoy the show. It's subtle and understated. It is the perfect compliment to the HBO comedy palette. They have extreme, strong, and vulgar with EAST BOUND & DOWN. They have delicately contrived, observational, and witty with CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM.

BORED TO DEATH is quirky, randomly poetic, and soft. I don't think these are bad traits. In my mind, this isn't a comedy designed to make you laugh out loud throughout consistently, but is a show designed to give you warm smiles, chuckles, and a glance at a collection of eccentric characters.

I like it so far, it has great potential, but I do think the overall narrative needs to evolve.

October 12 2009 at 2:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I find the show entertaining enough for a half an hour a week - not much else on to watch - and I like Jonathan Silverman - have ever since Rushmore. But I think as a whole the show is rather pointless and underwhelming and the whole "private detective" thing is such a random concept that came out of nowhere in the pilot and doesn't seem like something they can base a series on. There are some good characters, especially Ted Danson's. But I think HBO jumped the gun on giving this a second season. Is the the best that's out there? There are no better scripts, ideas, pilots, etc? Seriously?

I suppose I'll keep watching it, after all there are probably only 4 or so more episodes (this is an "HBO season" we're talking about after all), but it's not like I'd buy the DVD sets or anything.

October 12 2009 at 1:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yeah, I had high hopes for this and it feels a little underwhelming. I like, I just don't love it which I desperately wanted to do because of the cast.

I think it has tons of potential and will continue to watch. I like the way it seems a little like Max Fisher all grown up. I also like the fact that it's definitely New York. I hope that ultimately I am pleasantly surprised it's a gentle farce and not a wacky comedy.

October 12 2009 at 12:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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