I don't think I've seen an episode of Bored To Death yet where I knew exactly what I wanted to say about it immediately after it ended. I've reviewed a lot of great and terrible TV over here, but nothing as consistently bland as this show. I just don't get it. Tonight was no exception; I'm having trouble gathering my thoughts about the episode, but I do have one question. Is it a bad sign that I found myself with the overpowering urge to shout out, alone in my apartment, "This is so unbelievably bad!" numerous times?
Maybe it's the fever run-off talking (I came down with a nasty case of The A.V. Club flu that cycled the office late last week), but I don't think so. I wound up for my viewing with this week's Curb Your Enthusiasm, which was amazing. I yelled to myself then too, but more positive shouts. It's fun. You should all try it some time. (I told you I was having trouble figuring out what to say.)
Look, I don't get it. This show was renewed for a second season already? Is there really any more story to tell? Judging by tonight's episode, no. Here's what went down: Jonathan has a new client, a Russian man named Demetri who just got out of prison and wants to reconnect with the Lonely White Dove, a woman with whom he shared a magical evening before he was locked away. There's little detectiving that has to happen, because he knows where she works (a bar in Brighton Beach) but can't go there himself without violating his parole. Jonathan goes, asks around, and is treated to a nice meal with numerous vodka shots. He comes back the next day to finally see the woman, and brings Suzanne—she always wanted to go, and he never took her, so this is his attempt to get back in her good graces—as well as Ray and his lady friend too. He gets kicked out. The next day, he goes with Demetri to meet the woman at what turns out to be a set-up, because Demetri apparently got her brother in trouble too. Jonathan throws loaned fisticuffs at the Russian mobsters beating Demetri up, and the two escape.
It sounds like a lot. It is a lot. Or, it would be, if the scenes didn't all feel like clones of one another. The emotion level on Bored To Death rarely changes, so each visit back to Brighton Beach feels identical to the others. Jonathan goes solo and has fun, then returns with his ex-girlfriend and two friends and has a terrible time. Does he project that? Not in the slightest. If you were watching this show on mute, basing your understanding solely on the characters' reactions, you'd think they were all asleep.
The strangest thing about this show, though, is that while the acting feels calculated and slow, the dialogue feels calculated and fast. Take the wonderful exchanges Jonathan has with Suzanne over the course of the night: He invites her out, and she posits that it might be a bad idea to go because she doesn't want to see him drink. So Jonathan says he'll be sober, and he'll leave three feet between them when they dance. Fine. She wants to have that Brighton Beach night they never got to have. They show up, he takes a shot of vodka; Suzanne says, "I thought you weren't going to drink?" Oh, right. Switching to water. Let's dance. "I know I said three feet, but is two feet okay?" Jonathan asks as he moseys on over. Suzanne says closer is okay, she leans in for a kiss. Nope, show's about to start, so they sit. A few minutes later, they're in a cab on the way home after Jonathan gets kicked out. Suzanne is confused. She thought this night was going to be that Brighton Beach night. You know. The one they never had.
What is this, Heroes?
While I appreciate Bored To Death's insistence on fleshing out Jonathan's character (poorly), I'd like to see one decent case first—one. It would also be nice if George Christopher didn't talk about something at the beginning of an episode, fail to carry it out, and then lament it. And Ray need to go nuts every once in a while. All I'm saying is, when the show started, I was willing to give it a chance. Things could change, I thought. But it's becoming very clear that nothing will change, that this show is doomed to George Christopher's nightmare: neverending mediocrity.
- That guy from the photo is in it, from The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Seems like a waste of his comedic talents.