You may recall that, during my TCA press tour wrap-up, I declared the panel for HBO’s new series, “Bored to Death,” to be the funniest of anything presented to us by any cable network. But in fairness, I also admitted during my coverage of the panel itself that, at the time, I still hadn’t actually seen the show, though I was still willing to take what I’d seen in advance clips and heard from the panelists and say, “Basically, if this show isn’t a hit, then it’s at least destined to be remembered as one of the greatest cult sitcoms of all time.” I think I’m still pretty safe in sticking with that theory, but now that I have seen the first few episodes of “Bored to Death,” I have to admit that, although it gets a good head of steam during the second episode, it’s rather slow-going when it comes out of the gate tonight.
HBO’s press release for the series summarizes “Bored to Death” thusly: “Jonathan Ames, a young Brooklyn writer, is feeling lost. Heʼs just gone through a painful break-up, thanks in part to his drinking, canʼt write his second novel, and carouses too much with his magazine editor. Rather than face reality, Jonathan turns instead to his fantasies – moonlighting as a private detective – because he wants to be a hero and a man of action.” That doesn’t really do tonight’s premiere justice, though. Things do kick off with Jonathan (Jason Schwartzman) watching his girlfriend move out of their apartment, but it’s in a moment of quiet desperation – and with a coffee cup full of white wine – that he spontaneously decides to put an ad on Craigslist, claiming to be a private detective. Despite admitting that he’s not licensed, he nonetheless gets a call in short order, and he’s off on his first case…though it’s probably not a good sign that his client, before their first meeting is over, has asked, “Are you sure you’re a detective…?”
As with all first episodes, we spend more time setting the stage than anything else. We meet Jonathan’s best friend, comic book illustrator Ray Hueston (Zach Galifianakis), as well as his boss, magazine editor George Christopher (Ted Danson), but the predominant purpose of tonight’s premiere (“The Stockholm Syndrome”) is to give us an idea who these guys are and what roles they play in Jonathan’s life. Rest assured that, in the subsequent couple of episodes, they will find a much larger place within his new profession…and also rest assured that, if the premiere of “Bored to Death” does indeed leave you feeling like its title, the odds of the sensation continuing next week are few.