Written PostFrom the DVD Shelf: Bored to Death Season 2

From the DVD Shelf: Bored to Death Season 2

After tearing through the first season of HBO’s Bored to Death on DVD (click here for my review), my wife and I couldn’t wait to jump into season 2.  I’m pleased to say the second season was just as much fun as the first!

Picking up just a few months after the end of season one, Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman) is still a writer living in Brooklyn who also works as an unlicensed Private Eye (getting clients from his ad on Craigslist).  Though season one ended triumphantly, things have taken something of a turn for the worst for our three heroes here at the start of season two.  Jonathan’s book was rejected by his publisher, and he’s had to take work as a night-school writing teacher (which seems like a drag, though Jonathan seems to enjoy the chance to teach and perhaps inspire other young writers).  Leah (Heather Burns) has broken up with Ray (Zach Galifianakis).  And George (Ted Danson)’s magazine has been bought by a right-wing Christian company, and he’s begun to find himself more and more marginalized by the new management.

The season kicks off with a bang, as the first episode “Escape From the Dungeon!” is absolutely hysterical and showcases everything that is great about the show.  I wouldn’t dream of spoiling the fun, but suffice it to say that the adventure culminates in Jonathan’s having to interrupt George’s meeting with his new Christian parent company while dressed in a full-body black-leather S & M “gimp” suit.  But that’s not even the funniest part!  No, that comes when George leads Jonathan out of the meeting, down the hall to his office (where he hopes to find some tools to help Jonathan out of the S & M suit he’s been locked into), and the two men hold hands while walking down the hallway.  There’s something so funny and so wonderfully sweet about that tiny moment, so in contrast to the insane circumstance we’re watching.  It’s just brilliant.

The rest of the season continues strongly from there.  You’ve gotta love these HBO short seasons — at only eight episodes long, there’s no filler.  Each of the episodes is very strong, filled with great moments.

I was a bit surprised at the show’s slight step into more-serious ground with a subplot in which George is diagnosed with prostate cancer.  It occasionally makes it a bit difficult to enjoy all the fun, but the storyline gives Ted Danson even more room to show just what a phenomenal actor he is.  There’s a scene, late in the season, in which he expresses his fear about the way he could just be “turned off” like a light-switch that is absolutely magnificent.  But that storyline also led to some wonderful comedy, such as George’s fabulously erotic first-encounter with his new female urologist (Jessica Hecht) in the second episode, “Take That Fitzgerald!” (a scene that is near genius-level hilarity).  There’s also the way he gets into trouble in the sixth episode, “The Case of the Grievous Clerical Error!” by getting caught having used the same line, about how glad he is to be sharing what will possibly be his last erection, with two different women.  (I could definitely have seen that story-line being used by Curb Your Enthusiasm!)

I was a little bummed that Olivia Thirlby didn’t return, but luckily Heather Burns was still involved with the show even though her character had broken up with Ray.  And, as with the first season, there were some great guest-stars.  I was very surprised to see Kirstin Wiig re-appear, but I was glad she did as her hard-drinking, femme fatale character was perfectly used (latching onto a newly self-confident Ray).  John Hodgman also returns as Jonathan’s literary nemesis Louis Green, and I was pleased to see him in the show so often he could have been considered a regular.  Kevin Bacon (playing himself), Patton Oswalt and F. Murray Abraham all appear, as does Olympia Dukakis.  Her one scene, in which she flirts wildly with an appreciative Ray while Jonathan tries to question her about a case, is one of my favorite things I’ve seen all year.  Brilliant.

This is a terrific show, and I only lament that I’m discovering it now, just after it was cancelled.  There may only be one short season left for me to watch, but I can’t wait.