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Jonathan Ames
Zach Galifianakis, Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson
Writing Credits:

A noir-rotic comedy.

Meet Jonathan Ames: writer, romantic, unlicensed private detective. Moonlighting from his job as a novelist and writer for a New York magazine, Jonathan is looking to jettison some heavy emotional baggage (his girlfriend just dumped him, okay?) through an unusual second careerof cracking cases of missing persons, espionage and infidelity in the Big Apple.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Surround 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 220 min.
Price: $39.98
Release Date: 9/21/10

• Audio Commentaries for Four Episodes
• Deleted Scenes
• “The Making of Bored to Death” Featurette
• “Jonathan Ames’ Brooklyn” Featurette


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Bored To Death: Season One (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 25, 2010)

Detective shows have been a TV staple for years, but HBO’s Bored to Death gives the notion a spin. The series’ first season encompasses eight episodes, which I’ll check out in broadcast order. The plot synopses come straight from the DVD’s packaging.

Stockholm Syndrome: “Heartbroken by a recent break-up, between books writer Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman) places an ad on Craigslist offering his unlicensed services as a private detective.”

Bored gets off to a decent start with “Syndrome”. The first act plods a bit, but once Ted Danson enters the picture as Jonathan’s boss, the show begins to hit its stride. The rest of the ride goes pretty well, at least when the program stays with Jonathan’s detective work; it crawls some when it goes into character material. We’ll see if those trends continue, but at least “Syndrome” launches the series on a fairly promising note.

The Alanon Case: “A woman with a drinking problem hires Jonathan to see if her boyfriend has been cheating.”

After watching “Alanon”, I suspect the weakest aspects of Bored won’t be those that deal with Jonathan’s non-detective life, as the scenes with his boss or his slacker pal Ray (Zach Galifianakis) are fun. The slow spots may revolve around those with his ex-girlfriend Suzanne (Olivia Thirlby). Through two episodes, those moments create tedium, even though Suzanne fits into the “Alanon” plot in an unusual way. The rest of the show works well, at least, and there’s more than enough dry comedy to keep us interested.

The Case of the Missing Screenplay: “An ill-advised encounter undermines Jonathan’s chance to rewrite a Jim Jarmusch script.”

Calling this episode “The Case of the Missing Screenplay” is a bit of a tease, as it’s the first Bored in which Jonathan doesn’t take a client: he needs to retrieve his own lost script, so there’s no other party involved. This puts more of an emphasis on his personal life, which I feared would be a weakness. However, the episode does well for itself, perhaps because it lacks an appearance from his ex-girlfriend. “Screenplay” also boasts a) a terrific turn from Denis O’Hare as a blunt therapist, and b) a very attractive topless woman. Both help make this a fun show.

The Case of the Stolen Skateboard: “Jonathan falls for the mother of a boy whose skateboard was stolen by the neighborhood bully.”

“Skateboard” returns us to Jonathan’s detective business, but in a lackluster manner. The premise is fun but the execution fails to go much of anywhere. The show still manages some laughs, but it’s the weakest episode to date.

The Case of the Lonely White Dove: “Jonathan tracks down a Russian chanteuse; George (Danson) gets in touch with his feminine side.”

The second part of that synopsis cleans up the actual plot; instead, George tries being gay. That’s the best part of the episode, as Danson’s excursions down that street amuse. The rest of the show’s a bit flat, partially because we get Suzanne the Showkiller back again. This isn’t a bad program, but it’s not one of the better ones, either.

The Case of the Beautiful Blackmailer: “Jonathan, George and Ray team up to retrieve a damning sex tape for a married man.”

Season One rebounds with the fine “Blackmailer”. Not only does it focus almost exclusively on a case – which seems to be a plus for the series – but also it mixes all three of the show’s main characters. It mixes a fun scenario and good laughs to be one of the year’s strongest episodes.

The Case of the Stolen Sperm: “Jonathan and Ray investigate a lesbian black market scheme; George publishes a scathing editorial directed at his rival, Richard Antrem (Oliver Platt).”

“Sperm” follows the high-flying spirit from the last episode and keeps things going nicely. It furthers some plot lines well and throws out a nice mix of comedic elements. The show seems to be hitting its stride.

Take a Dive: “Jonathan, George and Ray step into the ring for a grudge match against their publishing rivals.”

Season One ends well with the fine “Dive”. It develops characters and story nicely and throws in excellent comedy, especially when we see our heroes in the boxing ring. Expect absolutely inept fighting and a good finish to the season.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

Bored to Death appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. I expected little from the presentation, but Bored looked quite good for SD-DVD.

Sharpness was usually strong. Some shots could be a smidgen soft, but those concerns remained minor. For the most part, the shows appeared pretty concise and accurate. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and edge haloes appeared absent. Source defects also weren’t a concern; some digital artifacts popped up in darker shots, but otherwise the shows looked clean.

Bored went with a fairly natural palette that came across well. The shows displayed warm, clear tones at all times, and these looked nice. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows seemed fine. No issues with opacity or excessive dimness affected the programs. Overall, I felt pleased with the visuals.

I also liked the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Bored. Though the mixes never became tremendously active, they offered more information than I expected. Street scenes used the various channels in a satisfying way, and other sequences boasted solid activity. For instance, the boxing match in the final episode worked in the different speakers in an involving manner. The tracks formed good soundscapes.

Audio quality was also satisfying. Speech always appeared natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music sounded full and rich, while effects displayed good accuracy and heft. Across the board, I felt pleased with these more than competent mixes.

When we shift to extras, we find audio commentaries for a few episodes. These chats accompany four programs:

“Stockholm Syndrome”: writer/series creator Jonathan Ames, actor Jason Schwartzman and director Alan Taylor.

“The Case of the Missing Screenplay”: Ames, Schwartzman and director Michael Lehmann.

“The Case of the Beautiful Blackmailer”: Schwartzman, Ames, and director Adam Bernstein.

“Take a Dive”: Schwartzman, Ames and actor Ted Danson.

Across the commentaries, we learn about the theme song and other musical choices, cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, real-life influences, and a few other production areas. Overall, the tracks tend to be useful. Ames dominates, and we get a fairly nice view of the various aspects related to the series. You’ll find a moderate amount of happy talk, but there’s still enough worthwhile content to keep us interested.

We find Deleted Scenes for three shows. These come along with Episode 3 (0:41), Episode 4 (3:35) and Episode 8 (two scenes, 2:52). These offer extensions to existing scenes. The one for E3 doesn’t add much, but the other two are more substantial. E4 shows more of the conflict between Ray and Leah, while E8 lets us know more about Jonathan’s abortive novel writing efforts. The second scene is less useful; it’s essentially an outtake from the boxing match that’s slightly funny but not anything that would’ve been good in the show.

The Making of Bored to Death runs 19 minutes, 56 seconds, and includes remarks from Schwartzman, Danson, Ames, Taylor, director Paul Feig, illustrator Dean Haspiel, and actors Zach Galifianakis, Heather Burns, Olivia Thirlby, Jim Jarmusch, and John Hodgman. We learn about the series’ origins, characters and stories, cast and performances, music, and some episode specifics. “Making” tends toward general promotional material and doesn’t provide many interesting behind the scenes elements. It’s not an awful program, but it lacks much merit.

Finally, Jonathan Ames’ Brooklyn lasts 12 minutes, 31 seconds. It provides notes from Ames and Schwartzman as they lead us on a tour of the series’ locations. Like “Making”, this remains a somewhat fluffy piece, but it’s a decent overview of the different spots.

A detective series with a quirky feel, Bored to Death offers a pretty enjoyable first season. A good cast embellishes the material and makes this a fun collection of shows. The DVD provides solid picture and audio along with some inconsistent but decent supplements. I’ll be interested to see where Bored goes, as I enjoyed its initial season.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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