Monday, October 12, 2009

HBO Sunday

When did Curb Your Enthusiasm become so mirthless and leaden? The characters have always been unpleasant, which isn't in itself a problem for me. However I never found Susie Essman's "screech obnoxiously twelve beats too long" performance tolerable in any way except as an occasional plot necessity. Now it seems the other characters have become tedious annoyances, too. The formula is the same, but the payoffs are so weak they don't even generate a chuckle. The only reason I tuned in this evening is because it leads in to Bored to Death.

Bored to Death is a ramshackle creation, though the production is fairly slick. It's a sitcom created and written by one person -- Jonathan Ames, a genuinely funny oddball. I enjoyed his comic novel Wake Up, Sir!, in which a dissipated American one-novelist endures uncomfortable episodes accompanied by his (probably delirium-induced) manservant Jeeves.

Bored to Death features Jason Schwarzman playing Jonathan Ames (sound familiar?) a one-novelist who, after his girlfriend leaves him, signs up on Craig's List as a private detective -- explicitly an unlicensed one. This sets Ames up to undertake the lowest-of-low-stakes investigations as he banters with his friends, played by Ted Danson and the comically earnest Zach Galifinakis--always a laugh-inducer for me. The settings are Brooklyn's trendier areas and Manhattan, and the local color is a rainbow of effete arts, media, and culture turds (radical vegans, comic book artists, publishing twerps, and Jim Jarmusch playing "Jim Jarmusch" as a cinema turd).

It's loopy. The comedy is driven more by characterization, mildly absurd circumstance, and mood than by gags. Provided Ames doesn't dial up the whimsy, I'll want to watch much more of it.

No comments:

Web Analytics