Around here, regular readers will most likely know the affinity I have towards the Film Noir genre and shows like Femme Fatales. Well, for me the best of said genre is the classic P.I. stories, and even modernized versions like we saw in the 80s with Moonlighting and more recently with Veronica Mars.
Bored to Death is a comedic take on that sub-genre, but exemplifies the classic elements surprisingly well. The 3rd season of the comedy kicked off a couple of weeks ago and due to baseball playoffs, the NFL, and our Halloween Countdown, I was unable to watch any of it until this morning. I have to say: I was impressed. I already loved this show, but these 2 episodes were great if you’re a fan of the genre. If you’re not, you might find it a little dryer, but still funny.
As the season starts our
hero protagonist Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman) has just had his new book published and is finally experiencing a modicum of success. At the book signing a short, bald man come up with the request that he sign a copy of the book. Jonathan does so and then upon shaking the man’s hand is met with remark – “Weak grip. Good to know.” This will obviously come back into play later, but even in the present works as a reminder that Mr. Ames is a far cry from the P.I.s of old. It’s unlikely that Humphrey Bogart was ever told he had an effeminate handshake…
After the book signing Jonathan invites his parents over to his new apartment/office which is located in a clock tower. It is here where his mother breaks the news to him that he was a sperm donor baby. This has an effect on Jonathan and will no doubt play a larger role as the season goes on. I bring it up now however simply to point out the excellent casting job done on his parents.
His father is played by Richard Masur, who not only was in Stephen King’s It, a movie my sister and I watched about 1000 times as kids, but he was also the dad in the Corey/Corey classic License to Drive. And additionally relevant given recent articles, he was ‘Clark’ in Carpenter’s The Thing. Even more interesting to me however, and it took me a minute to place her, but his mother is played by none other than ‘Agnes DiPesto‘!!! Well, technically it’s Allyce Beasley, but she appeared in all 66 episodes of the aforementioned Moonlighting as receptionist ‘Anges DiPesto’. That’s a great tie-in.
Next, Jonathan embarks on his latest case. Simply follow the woman in the yellow hat and report back as to her whereabouts. It’s a job he took over the phone, so he doesn’t know who he is working for. George (Ted Danson) agrees to accompany Jonathan on his task and delivers one of my favorite lines of the episode:
Now is about the time that George is distracted by a beautiful woman in a red dress and leaves Jonathan on his own. This is necessary for each of their stories to progress. The problem is that I really don’t care about George’s story. As usual it’s simply another example of how narcissistic he is, this time pertaining to how his daughter wants to marry a man almost as old as him. I love George, but I think I’ll just gloss through this particular chapter, as it doesn’t really tie-in to the detective aspect of the show.
The side story that does, at least somewhat play in later, is that of Ray (Zach Galifianakis) meeting his son. Last season he was the (unknowing) sperm donor for 2 lesbians, and the nice lesbian (The Daily Show’s Samantha Bee) has decided she wants Ray to be involved in Baby Spencer’s life.
This is relevant because spending the day with Spencer makes Ray feel like a man and he kicks into ‘Protective Father’ mode later as he comes to the aid of Jonathan. Plus that Huston line cracked me up.
To this point Jonathan had followed the woman in the yellow hat to a hotel and see her enter a room. At this time he makes his call to report her location and that should be the end of it. The thing is, he hears a scream and decides to bust in the room to aid the woman in the hat. He is promptly knocked unconscious. When he awakens he finds a gun in his hand, his pants around his ankles, and a dead body. He also finds the police at the door. And like any Harrison Ford fan would do, he hightails it and goes on the lam.
Now framed for murder our bumbling Detective flees home only to have the police show up promptly there after. Scared and confused, and almost completely lacking in the professionalism required to deal with the cops, he does what anyone would do. He climbs out the window and onto the giant clock and hangs there. Now there are a lot of instances in the history of film and television that end up with people on the faces of giant clocks, the most famous of which is probably Back to the Future. However the one you might not remember – the series pilot of MOONLIGHTING!!! Heyoooooo!