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Bored To Death: "The Case of the Grievous Clerical Error!"

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I'm a little annoyed with Bored To Death for the way it pulled an Entourage on all of us. The last few episodes have had George dealing with his prostate cancer diagnosis, and tonight was when he finally had to face the music. Rarely do episode titles give much away on this show, but this one nails it: Turns out there was a clerical error and George doesn't need the surgery. He doesn't have cancer at all, in fact, as the error dates back to the first time he received his diagnosis from his doctor-cum-girlfriend-cum-negligent doctor. One of my major complaints during the show's first season was that the plot sort of just lumbered along, and the characters remained unaffected in the slightest; at the same time, the show wanted us to like these people, and the disconnect wasn't helping. George's cancer was becoming a major point on the show, and in one fell swoop it was all gone. The show has worked really hard this season to craft a complex set of characters, and this felt like a cheap trick.


The hiccup remains minor, though. Because the lead-in to the big reveal was exciting and touching, a rare combination for Bored To Death and some of the finest work the show has ever done. Like, sure they took back the cancer, but the show forced George to think about the women in his life. On the one hand, he's got this doctor, who feeds his positive, healing side; on the other, there's always Priscilla, pushing him toward self-destruction. George never wants to choose, so he goes with what's most difficult, does that, then switches. In this episode, faced with the end of his sexual life (and, for George, that's the end of romance), he tells both that he wants his last erection to be with them. And the weird thing is, he truly means it, for both of them. Even at this defining moment in his life, he refuses to choose. Then, cutting right though this clutter, we have a moment where Jonathan visits George in the hospital—the final person George will see before going under. They talk about their days, then Jonathan, apropos of nothing, tells George he loves him. The nurse enters and asks if this is George's son, to which George replies, "Yes."

Then Jonathan realizes the clerical error and runs around the hospital trying to stop the surgery. Given that previous tender moment, his frenzy is totally justified and infinitely compelling. Thinking back on this part of the episode just now, I've all but forgotten the show has dragged me along for these last few weeks thinking George might die.


The show has a hard time telling three stories at once. When it does, one feels ancillary and doesn't serve much of a purpose save a moment or two—usually something along the lines of Ray smoking out of a corn cob pipe and pretending to be a sea captain. But smartly Jonathan bounced between George's story and Ray's, which actually started in Jonathan's court. Leah has got a case for Jonathan: Little Ray, the new family dog who shares Ray's eyes, has gone missing. Ray is quick to want to help; he's seeing a new girl (Kate Micucci), but she wears elf ears and is a total fangirl about dating the creator of Super Ray. Ray likes to feel impressive in the moment, not in hindsight, so the thought of a grand gesture to woo Leah back is far more appealing than the thought of staying with a girl who's aflutter because of his body of work (and, I suppose, his body). The pair track down Little Ray, along with a bunch of other missing dogs.

Two things happen nearly at once. The first is that Ray learns Jonathan tried to kiss Leah in a moment of weakness/drunkenness/stonedness. He gets upset, sure, but quickly and almost inexplicably calms down. The second is that Jonathan realizes he needs to be there for George in the hospital, and Ray sends him off and promises to take care of the dog situation himself. (Yet another awesome Zach Galifianakis moment: Him with two dozen tiny dogs on leashes running away from the dog snatcher and flinging a bolt-cutter over his head.)


This show has turned into a wonderful display of friendship between the three leads. They need each other despite the way they feed each other's neuroses. They've always been friends, sure, but their friendship is growing from the stressful situations Jonathan now finds himself in. They all live a cushy life, but the PI business has given them some trenches, so to speak. And they're all down there together.

Stray observations:

  • "I'll tell ya who let the dogs out…"
  • I'll never quite be alright with the way Jonathan recites lines he's written. The show is self-important, sure, but that stuff always crosses the line.
  • Ray got an allowance?
  • "He's the dog version of a son."

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