Recently, watching the ever-amazing Ted Danson on the ever-amazing “The Good Place,” and savoring his turn as the kooky puppeteer Michael, and watching him clearly having a great time playing a very out-there character, I fondly recalled this droll slice of Brooklyn life called “Bored to Death,” which was created by author Jonathan Ames and ran three seasons on HBO from 2009-11.
It’s one of those small comedy series that operates a bit like an indie movie, with offbeat humor and characters. I’d put it in league with Bill Hader’s “Barry,” with Danson as the Henry Winkler character. Jason Schwartzman stars as Jonathan, a young Dustin Hoffman-like romantic hero, writer and private investigator. It’s a perfect role for him, his mop top, and his distinctive comic timing, wherein he positions his punch lines on the downbeat. He’s melancholic, self-loathing, and, always, lovable.
He is balanced by a pair of narcissists. Danson kills it as his sex-obsessed, drug-loving, and super pompous editor, a guy who enlists Jonathan to punch him in the mouth to hide a herpes sore. His story line doubles as a piece of fierce literary satire. And Zach Galifianakis is his angry pal, an unemployed artist.
The neurosis a trois is aided and abetted by some strong recurring players including John Hodgman, Zoe Kazan, Patton Oswalt, Kristen Wiig, and Mary Kay Place. You can find “Bored to Death” — which improves across the first season — on HBO on demand, HBO Go, HBO Now, and Amazon.