Before the Girls moved in, the 'Boys' from HBO’s Bored to Death were the ones staying up all night having wild adventures and even wilder sexual escapades all over Brooklyn. Now, those days are gone and all we can do is cue Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself.” Season 3 of the noir-influenced comedy follows Jason Schwartzman’s struggling writer Jonathan Ames (also the name of the series creator and lead writer) as he moonlights as an unlicensed private detective. Accompanied by Ted Danson’s wealthy socialite, George Christopher, and Zach Galifianakis’ cartoonist, Ray Hueston, the three potheads make for a hapless group of sleuths, but also an interesting bromance triangle. During Season 3, the cases became more personal, dangerous and extravagant, but, unfortunately, way fewer viewers also watched the episodes. Just when the show was as good as it got, Bored to Death stopped being popular on HBO. Luckily, the Blu-ray release affords everyone a chance to make up for the mistake.
Season 3 was bookended by a couple of two-part episodes (which nicely set up all of the characters’ season-long threads), that were each bridged with the rarely seen ‘To Be Continued.’ Even though these continued storylines might have delivered Jonathan the most dangerous and even personal cases of the season, and it was nice to get to see him--not to mention George and Ray--have to deal with some real gunfire and life-threatening situations (albeit always comically and light-heartedly life-threatening), it was the episodes in the middle that stole the season. The run of Episodes 4-6 ("We Could Sing a Duet," “I Keep Taking Baths Like Lady Macbeth" and "Two Large Pearls and a Bar of Gold") is as entertaining as a string of episodes can get. All of them feature great noir-type stories for the fantastic characters to unfold. Two of them were directed by Tristram Shapeero, who also did some great work on Community last season, so have an eye trained to look for that name in the future.
The three main characters and the actors themselves really are fantastic and are the number 1-3 reasons why the show is so watchable. Schwartzman acts in the role of the straight man, even though he’s having outlandish adventures, while Danson and Galifianakis take their work to a whole new level for the third season. The chemistry between the three is outstanding and should have saved the show from being cancelled. One standout moment was the showdown between Jonathan and George mid-season that totally pulled at the emotional heartstrings. They make for one hell of a family, and the image of them all in bed, wearing matching monogrammed pajamas, still puts a huge smile on my face. That's even before mentioning the team's grocery store stakeout or chase. Then, there’s the one where the three of them dress up like ‘longshoremen.’ And...you get where I’m going with this. There are a lot of memorable, elaborate sequences this season, but it’s often the minor touches, like George feeding Ray some sushi, that make Bored to Death a rewarding show.
The supporting cast is also wonderful, with Heather Burns (Leah) leading a slew of great guests stars--some new and some old--like John Hodgman and Oliver Platt, as well as Brett Gelman, Casey Wilson, Isla Fisher, Sarah Silverman, Mary Steenburgen and Stacy Keach. Hodgman and Platt have a great rivalry plotline, and it’s too bad they didn’t bring back Ray’s fan from the Season 1 boxing match. Seeing Steenburgen pair up with Danson was a nice meta-joke, plus seeing them work together brought up fond memories of Curb. Of all of the guests, I think I enjoyed Gellman’s identity thieving ‘Jonathan Ames,’ whose credentials include watching a lot of film noir (unacceptable to the real Ames, or at least, Schwartzman’s Ames, who read all of Hammett and Chandler before starting).
The set’s special features aren’t that special, especially considering this turned out to be the final season of Bored to Death. The limited extras include the usual stuff like deleted scenes and outtakes (granted, always funny) as well as accompanying commentary for four of the episodes (again, standard, but when it’s Schwartzman, Danson and Galifianakis, the commentary is better than the average narrations). The ‘Inside the Episode’ featurettes are fine but they have been previously released by HBO to promote the series during its run, and only really feature Ames adding more context to each story. The menus and titles are well-crafted in a stark comic book style. The look is reminiscent of Ray’s work on the series, but if you’re looking for something ‘special’ (beyond the episodes), the Bored to Death Blu-ray might not completely satisfy.
It’s unfortunate for fans of the mysteries that the third season of HBO’s Bored to Death was its last, and all the cases--even those left open--are now closed. The final eight episodes were not initially intended to be the series conclusion, even if the writing was on the wall for any amateur sleuth to see. The increasingly serialized noir spoof about three best friends doesn’t wrap everything up neatly, however, a wedding serves as fitting of an ending as any. Besides, it’s nice to imagine that life and its mysteries continued for Jonathan, Ray and George, whether or not we were there to witness their blundering successes. Bored to Death was a really entertaining, imaginative and original show, easy to watch, and with characters incredibly hard to hate. The third season was a great way to say goodbye to the ‘Boys.’
Length: 203 min.
Release Date: 09/04/12
Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Zach Galifianakis, Ted Danson
Directed by: Michael Lehmann, Tristram Shapeero, Adam Bernstein
Created by: Jonathan Ames