Friday, September 25, 2009
The TV Show You Have to Watch
If you're at all like me, you have been searching -- mostly in vain -- for a new TV comedy series you can look forward to. I'd almost given up hope (Curb Your Enthusiasm has never done it for me; 30 Rock used up all its jokes several seasons ago; don't even mention the appalling Parks and Recreation, which made poor Amy Poehler look untalented; and Mad Men has too many characters who look alike).
But now, thanks to the Divine Sarah (Weinman, that is), I've fallen in love with a show called Bored to Death, which began last Sunday on HBO. It stars Jason Schwartzman as creator Jonathan Ames’s fictional alter ego, named Jonathan Ames. Jonathan is a blocked writer, pothead and white-wine tippler who falls into a funk when his girlfriend dumps him. He consoles himself by reading Farewell, My Lovely, and that inspires him to advertise as a private eye on the Internet.
Ted Danson, as Jonathan's former boss, is equally impressive. Mr. Danson steals every scene in the role, which he plays as a loonier, more endearing version of Arthur Frobisher, the amoral business tycoon he portrays on Damages. When Jonathan asks George if he really needs so much Viagra, George primly replies: “Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. My heart medicine and heavy drinking have taken a toll."
Jonathan doesn’t have many qualms about his new job. “I say that I’m not licensed, and that makes it more legal ... ish,” Jonathan tells his best friend and fellow Brooklyn loser, a graphic artist named Ray (Zach Galifianakis), who is appalled.
"Within 20 minutes of the pilot," writes Weinman, "Jonathan morphs from a commitment-phobic struggling novelist and magazine writer recently dumped by his girlfriend Suzanne (Juno’s Olivia Thirlby) to an unlicensed PI on the lookout -- with suitably disastrous and cringe-comic results -- for the missing sister of a college co-ed who saw his ad on Craigslist. The impetus? A frayed paperback of Ames’s favorite Chandler novel... After watching the first three episodes, I'm still not sure if, to use a well-worn cliche, Bored to Death is going to play in Peoria, but I have to hand it to HBO for doing their best to try."
Another interesting new show, especially for time travel addicts, is ABC's
FlashForward, . It's in the Quantum Leap genre, stars the gorgeous and believable Joseph Fiennes, and might just be worth a look.