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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Cable Television > Bored To Death: The Complete First Season (2009/HBO Blu-ray Set)

Bored To Death: The Complete First Season (2009/HBO Blu-ray Set)


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: C     Episodes: B



It is slightly ironic that the series is called Bored to Death, when it is anything but boring.  Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson and Zak Galifianakis star in the series created by novelist Jonathan Ames.  In a very postmodern manner, Ames created the series based on himself (a struggling novelist), but added the twist that he has taken up being a private investigator.  In fact all of Ames’ writings seem to place him in a fictionalized role of himself, casting himself as someone he wants to be or someone he could never be in a million years.


Schwartzman is playing the role of Ames for this hilarious series.  It seems that this character is Ames at his worst.  As the series opens Jonathan’s girlfriend leaves him due to his bad habits of drinking and smoking copious amounts of marijuana; in fairness to Ames he did try to change, switching to just white whine.  Viewers can tell from the initial personal mishaps that the series is about to take a charismatically hilarious turn, most likely for the worst.  Life is not shaping up for Jonathan Ames as he had imagined; his love life is falling apart and professionally he feels stagnant.  As Ames deals with personal struggles the personalities who surround him are of no help and many times make things even worse.  Ray (Zak Galifianakis) is a cartoonist who is more preoccupied with himself to ever concentrate on Jonathan; most of the time trying to get sex out of his long time girlfriend played by Heather Burns.  The there is George Christopher (Ted Danson), Ames on again off again boss who also seems so ‘bored to death’ with his own life that he leeches onto Ames in attempt to reinvigorate himself.  Danson often times steals the show as his character (a magazine editor) will try anything once and lives to party; but sadly George’s reckless ways often leave others in much more trouble than they bargained for.


In a misguided attempt to bring meaning to his life, Ames places a add on Craigslist for his services as a private detective; in turn thinking solving others problems will also help him.  He struggles to find inspiration, but with these cases he may get more than he bargained for.  First he is hired to find a woman’s missing sister, and then later is hired to spy on a “cheating boyfriend.”  It is hard to say if this is all working out as Ames had intended, but if nothing else it is giving him something to do.


I found the cast’s chemistry very inviting, with plenty of great acting and wonderful scripts to work off of.  Where as the series is inventive and hilarious, I do think it took a while to get into.  By the end of the season I was fully engrossed, but it definitely took a while for the series to find its voice.  With that said Bored to Death is a wonderful series that I think will only get better, it once again exemplifies what HBO series have to offer.  It has depth, heart and a wonderful mix of “slapstick” and dark comedy.


The picture and sound on this set are more “average” than I was expecting and whereas they get the job done, it is far from thrilling.  Even knowing the series is not full of big action sequences or anything of the sort I still found the AVC-1 encoded 1080p presentation well presented with only a few issues.  The image is crisp, clean and clear with nice shadowing and textures.  The skin tones are nicely represented here and there are no light/dark issues to be mentioned.  I do have to say that the image was soft at times as well as digital noise popping up here and there.  There is a degree of over saturation I can note, but the colors are well balanced and the crimsons, blues and browns all pop.  The sound is a DTS-HD Master Audio lossless 5.1 mix for this mostly dialogue based series that presents nicely, but fails to utilize the rears and add atmosphere to the series.  The locations for Bored to Death vary greatly from busy cafés to walking down a bustling street, but the soundscape always seems to be weak and unimpressive.  In some sequences it is there but mostly the track has been prioritized to have dialogue coming succinctly from the front and worrying little about atmosphere.


The extras include the following:


  • Four Audio Commentaries
    • These commentaries are wonderfully engaging and hilariously funny.  Schwartzman, Ames and even Danson grace the tracks with their presence as they divulge plenty of personal reflections and trivia about filming.
  • The Making of Bored to Death
  • Jonathan Ames Brooklyn
    • A feature that doesn’t have much to it, but has Schwartzman and Ames conversing about the series in a manner that is very much like the commentary tracks.
  • Deleted Scenes
    • Several unaired sequences that add little to the series.


I think this series has a lot more to say and the First Season is only the tip of the iceberg… before it sinks the Titanic.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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