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A Eulogy For 'Bored To Death'

Date December 21, 2011

Bored To Death Canceled

"Bored To Death" was canceled Tuesday by HBO, swept out in a holiday housecleaning that also took "How To Make It In America" and "Hung." I can't blame the network for putting "How to Make It" and "Hung" down. While the former improved marginally in its second season, it was laughably predictable and inevitably doomed by the "Entourage" shadow. And once the male hooker novelty wore off, "Hung" was just kind of taking up space.

But I'm genuinely bummed (and kind of outraged!) to see "Bored to Death" go. Granted, it had a good run and its Season 3 premiere drew a paltry 240,000 viewers, numbers that standout shows like The CW's "Hart of Dixie" and ABC's "Man Up" would laugh at. But still, I call BS. I was under the impression HBO was not permitted to cancel any of their shows that I like.

And "Bored to Death" was pretty damn good. Carried by sharp writing from Jonathan Ames and quality performances from Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis, the show boasted a lovable trio that delivered laughs that had heart behind them. It was a stoner detective buddy comedy, an ambitious and stylized take on "Scooby Doo" that created characters that were worth caring about. And it managed to authentically capture an aesthetic of hipster cool that "How To Make It" tried way too desperately to embody.

It's worth taking a minute to appreciate how excellent this cast really was, and how well they worked together. Schwarzman was solid as Jonathan, but "Bored to Death" was really a show where the supporting cast exceeded the star. Galifianakis found a perfect TV fit for his comedic talents in Ray, the constantly stoned, emotionally fragile cartoonist who donated his sperm to lesbians and let a baby drink whiskey off his nipple. He was hilarious and human, and I can't help but wonder how long it might take Galifianakis to find his next great TV role. It'd be a bummer if it took awhile, but then again, you don't want to see him rush back to rescue "Two and a Half Men" when Ashton flames out either.

Let's move on to Ted Danson. Am I alone in thinking that this is the best work he's ever done on TV? Sam Malone was cool, but George Christopher had more depth. He was wise and compassionate, yet endearingly confused. When George Christopher said things like, "Let's go get stoned and get something to eat in Brooklyn," he made them sound profound. At the very least, "Bored to Death" will be remembered as the show that enabled Danson to pull a Bill Murray in "Lost in Translation" and jump start a new growing-old-while-cool chapter of his career.

Let me just say that I hope HBO didn't axe the show because of the incest storyline it finished Season 3 with, in which Jonathan accidentally slept with his long-lost half-sister. While it's been awkward that so many shows decided to "go there" at the exact same time this TV season, "Bored to Death" deserved better than to be framed for that puzzling trend. Are we in the midst of some sort of national incest awareness month that I haven't heard about? Do HBO and Showtime hold secret meetings to coordinate the weird sexual themes they'll be exploring in their shows? And does anyone know an amateur private detective who can help me get to the bottom of this?

 

Follow Alex Moaba on Twitter: www.twitter.com/alexmoaba

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