Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 29, 2011)
Quirky detective series Bored to Death returns for a second season via this package. The series’ second year encompasses eight episodes, which I’ll check out in broadcast order. The plot synopses come straight from the Blu-ray’s packaging.
Also from the back cover, we get a recap to bring us up to date: “When we last dropped in on Jonathan Ames - New York writer, romantic, unlicensed private detective – he was taking a pounding in the boxing ring while still licking his (more painful) breakup wounds. Now that his second novel has been completed (and rejected), Jonathan is augmenting his income by moonlighting as a creative writing teacher, while taking on some new, desperate clients, ranging from a kinky policeman to the publishing rival of his sexagenarian pal, George Christopher.” We also follow Jonathan’s comic book writer/artist pal Ray Hueston and his life along with the adventures of Jonathan and George.
Escape from the Dungeon!: “Jonathan (Jason Schwartzman) is hired by a cop with an S&M fetish. George (Ted Danson) is told to make do with less. Ray (Zach Galifianakis) fails a yoga test.”
I thought Season One of Bored was hit or miss, so I’m happy that Season Two launches on a positive note. It borders on becoming too wacky-wacky at tines – such as during Jonathan’s trip to the bondage dungeon – but it still manages a nice balance between silly comedy and more subtle material. “Escape” opens the year in a fun way.
Make It Quick, Fitzgerald!: “Jonathan gets a job working for George’s rival. Ray vows to win back Leah (Heather Burns).”
After a good first episode, “Quick” seems a little lackluster. Not that it’s a bad show, but it lacks the energy and spark of “Escape”. Still, it has more than a few good moments – such as the odd three-way into which Jonathan finds himself stuck – so it moves along Season Two in a decent manner.
The Gowanus Canal Has Gonorrhea!: “George gets sobering news. Jonathan is kidnapped.”
“Canal” starts on a dark note, as George learns he has prostate cancer. Don’t expect a Very Special Epsiode, though, as the show immediately undercuts any potential melodrama and aims for the wacky side of the street. It threatens to become a little too nutty, especially as it gets involved with paramilitary attempts to save Jonathan from perverted kidnappers, but somehow, it all comes together for a good program.
I’ve Been Living Like a Demented God!: “Jonathan is hired by a junkie professor. George tries to cheat a drug test. Ray profits from his superhero comic creator.”
So far S2 seems to be on an even-odd pattern, with good odd-numbered episodes and mediocre even-numbered ones. “God” offers some decent moments – mostly from John Hodgman’s return as Jonathan’s smarmy rival – but it doesn’t quite come together to be anything memorable.
Forty-Two Down!: “Jonathan’s good intentions involving a poet/limo driver backfire. Ray meets with Kevin Bacon.”
S2 rebounds with a fun episode. Bacon’s appearance works well, and the poet/driver scenario proves to be surprisingly engaging. Nothing here dazzles, but the program delivers.
The Case of the Grievous Clerical Error!: “Leah hires Jonathan to find ‘Little Ray’. George faces an uncertain future as he heads to surgery.”
Does this season’s even-odd trend continue with “Grievous”? Yeah, pretty much, partially due to its lousy conclusion to the saga of George’s cancer. Other aspects of the episode work better, but it’s still not a great one.
Escape from the Castle!: “A dermatologist embroils Jonathan in a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ scenario at an Asian health spa.”
If nothing else, “Escape” prevents the even-odd scenario from continuing, largely because it’s not very good. On the positive side, Jonathan spends some time incognito in a ladies’ locker room, so expect some very nice visuals. Otherwise, the episode’s a little too madcap and silly to succeed.
Super Ray Is Mortal!: “Ray is imperiled by a mad stalker. George makes a stand at work. Jonathan has another battle with his nemesis, Louis Green (John Hodgman).
Season Two ends on a decent note. A couple of story lines come to a close, while others open to lead us to Season Three. This isn’t a great episode, but it delivers a fairly satisfying finish to the year.