Bored to Death is not a very good show unless you can’t get enough of the cast, in which case it’s more than good enough. HBO’s new half-hour comedy coasts on the comic talents of Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis, which is a great thing that should’ve happened a long time ago. The bad news is that Bored to Death is ostensibly a slacker’s comic piss-take on noir, but it’s no such thing. I don’t have any particularly strong opinions about the work of creator Jonathan Ames; I’ve read some of his essays in passing, and he appears overly fixated on outré sexual shenanigans, which is his problem. As a scenarist, though, he’s clearly not so hot. (How in the world he wrote a novel-length homage to P.G. Wodehouse—who wrote some of the most rigorously structured farces in literary history—baffles me.) Ostensibly, the show’s “Jonathan Ames” (Schwartzman) is a novelist struggling to come up with his second novel and dealing with his girlfriend’s (Olivia Thirlby) exit from his life. To cope, he posts a Craigslist ad offering his services as an unlicensed private eye and proves surprisingly competent at retrieving stolen skateboards, figuring out if someone is cheating on their partner, etc. Even at the accurately banal level of private eye work, though, it’s slack and predictable. The best scenes are basically irrelevant to the plot; some episodes are only twenty minutes long and strain to fill out the plot regardless.
But hey, Jason Schwartzman.