While its appeal may seem limited to a smaller audience than say something like "Eastbound and Down," "Bored to Death" still has plenty to offer. Creator (and the namesake of the show's somewhat fictional lead character) Jonathan Ames is adept at writing unassuming but witty humor, with a nice range of clever, subtle jokes in addition to more dirty or broad humor. The first season is entertaining and enjoyable, and while there aren't a whole lot of big, gutbusting laughs, the smaller jokes are well-earned and lend themselves to higher rewatchability. (I could watch Schwartzman's facial expressions all day.) The pace is brisk thanks to the "case of the week" formula, but it doesn't shortchange the characters at all.
Scwartzman is great as Ames, playing to his strengths of insecurity and general awkwardness. His two-sided slacker makes for amusement as we watch the detective wannabe get in over his head with everything from stolen skateboards to Russian crime bosses, but as the character progresses over the eight episode he assumes a little bit more confidence that gets you rooting for him a bit more. Zack Galifianakis is also enjoyable, pretty much playing Ed Helms' pussy whipped character from THE HANGOVER, just weirder and creepier. His eccentricities and common sense attitude make for a nice foil to Schwartzman. Ted Danson rounds out the trio and gets to play a little bit more zany as the equally immature and eccentric millionaire who gets to do everything from acting like a rich prick to attempting to go bi at the behest of his therapist. (Seeing Danson spoon Romany Malco from THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN is one of the highlights of the season.) All three play off each other increasingly well, and by the end of the first run, get to do more as a trio—something I hope continues in the season two.
While it'll work for general audiences (especially thanks to a talented and recognizable supporting cast that includes Oliver Platt, John Hodgman, Olivia Thirlby, Kristin Wiig, Parker Posey and more), I think movie fans especially will get a serious kick out of many of the jokes. There's an amazing episode built around indie director Jim Jarmusch (BROKEN FLOWERS), who appears as himself, poking fun at his weird reputation. There's also random jokes and references throughout to people like Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski that well-informed audiences will pick up on (and then explain to their friends). While the first few episodes played up the Raymond Chandler aspects quite a bit, the influences and references take a back seat as the show finds itself and the characters. "Bored to Death" is still something of a noir/detective show in spirit, but not in an overbearing way (like with Rian Johnson's stellar BRICK). Instead it just uses the tropes and ideas of old Phillip Marlowe stories in a modern setting to craft something humorous, unique and quite charming.
Deleted Scenes: Four short scenes, most of which are just extended with a couple extra lines. However, there's one that deals with Ames confronting his agent (played by Bebe Neuwirth) about his second novel. That's a plot point that was kind of glossed over in the show, so it's nice to have it addressed here.
Making of "Bored to Death" (19:57): This decent sized feature presents interviews with the cast and Ames (who talks about the real story and characters this is based on), as well as specifics about locations and specific major episodes and plot points.
Jonathan Ames' Brooklyn (12:31): Ames and Schwartzman visit some of the main places they filmed in NYC and discuss the importance of the neighborhoods to the show and Ames' life.
Extra Tidbit: Jonathan Ames also wrote the novel "The Extra Man," which was recently released as a film starring Kevin Kline, John C. Reilly, Katie Holmes, and Paul Dano.