Sunday, April 25, 2010

Review: Bored to Death episode 1.1: Stockholm Syndrome and episode 1.3: The Case of the Missing Screenplay

This was a very funny show. Jason Schwartzmann, who is always both funny and endearing, shines as the emotionally stunted man-child Jonathan Ames (named after the series' creator), a struggling writer who decides, for no reason other than a love of Raymond Chandler, to become an unlicenced private detective. He puts an advert on Craigslist, and is away on his ridiculous adventures.

Stockholm Syndrome: This is a great pilot. I love the fact that all of the male characters in the show are emotionally stunted man-children. This is the role Zach Galifianakis always plays, as I'm pretty sure he is incapable of playing any other, but Ted Danson is wonderful. His silver hair has not made him any less handsome, and so to see this handsome man act in basically the same way as Jason Schwartzmann and Zach Galifianakis is very funny. It is also very funny that Jonathan Ames is just a terrible detective. He just sucks at it. He actually does sort of solve the case he is on (his first,) which was a missing persons thing. But once he finds the missing woman, and sees that she is tied up to a bed with a gag in her mouth, instead of trying to save her like a normal person would, he smokes some pot with her captor, and complains about how his girlfriend just left him.

The Case of the Missing Screenplay: As much as I liked the pilot, this episode was better. It had Jim Jarmusch in it! Riding a bicycle around his office! It was excellent. The only problem I had with this episode was that the plot contrivance which caused the titular 'missing screenplay' was a little too contrived for a show like this, that attempts to have a veneer of truthfulness about it. I mean, it's not supposed to be what life is actually like for anyone at all, but it is supposed to be truthful, in that it is about what life would be like if the real Jonathan Ames decided to become a detective. Ames isn't trying to portray himself as some television hero-detective, but as the bumbling fool that he is, complete with all the neurosese and meaningless hangups. And because the show does a really good job (most of the time) making me believe that this idiot would be so deluded as to think that he could become a private detective, it does feel a bit like cheating when it resorts to obvious plot contrivances. The episode was still brilliant, though, so I should probably stop whining.

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