Your next box set: Bored to Death

There's nothing boring in this postmodern comedy about a writer-turned-crimefighter and his editor

Calling a show Bored to Death could end up being a big mistake, especially when not much happens and the whole concept is fiendishly postmodern. The hero is a failing writer called Jonathan Ames and the show is written (in real life) by a writer called Jonathan Ames. Jason Schwartzman, brilliant in Rushmore and in his element here, plays Jonathan, a man who's writing his own take on the Kama Sutra despite being unable to get any sex himself. His wingman Ray is played by Zach Galifianakis, who is as hilarious here as he was in The Hangover.

The thing about Bored to Death is that nothing needs to happen. It is the boredom and deadpan hilarity that keeps you glued. Each episode seems to be about the hipster literati of New York and their neuroses, which centre on book launches, Amazon rankings and sexual mishaps. But, on top of all this, each episode also spoofs 1950s noir thrillers, as Jonathan turns an obsession with Raymond Chandler into a life as a crimefighter, by setting himself up as a private detective and going off on pot-fuelled stakeouts.

And here's the twist: while it seems to be about Jonathan, it's really all about his editor, George. Played to perfection by Ted Danson, George is the ultimate moneyed Upper East Side gentleman: groomed, poised and cruising on social autopilot at endless soirees. "It's always the same boring people going on 35 years," he says. "Though some die, some press on. I fall into the pressing-on category."

George sees Jonathan as his wine-guzzling saviour and the two team up to stave off boredom. Support, and a clapped-out getaway car, is provided by Ray, a comic-strip artist whose weird girlfriend forces him to have colonics for the good of his health, and in exchange for a sex life.

The crimefighting goes spendidly, with the trio emerging unscathed from their investigations into everything from skateboard-stealers to Russian mobsters. For all its postmodern cleverness, Bored to Death is basically a threeway madcap bromance about grown men armed with stuffed toys.


Kate Abbott

The GuardianTramp

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