Bored To Death continues its streak of quirky humor and oddball cast of characters in its third season. The show is built around its three principal stars: Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson and the irrepressible Zach Galifianakis. The trio get involved in madcap schemes and misadventures along the way to solving the season’s primary mystery, searching for the biological father of Schwartzman’s character.
Schwartzman plays Jonathan Ames, an author more interested in being an unlicensed private detective than selling books. Ted Danson is an older restaurant owner, a pot-smoking flake more interested in women than his business. Zach Galifianakis plays the same role he plays in almost all of his movies, an overgrown man-child by the name of Ray, with a stark indifference to normal social conventions.
Bored To Death is a comedic farce that works most of the time. It owes a great deal of credit to the movies of Wes Anderson and the comic stylings of Arrested Development. Schwartzman’s character is largely an adult version of the character he played superbly as a teen in Anderson’s Rushmore. Zach Galifianakis is up to his usual antics as a perverted cartoon artist this time and adds an element of chaotic energy to the plot.
It’s a motley group of friends and feels mostly contrived, but still works due to the actors’ chemistry and comedic talent. Several comedians make cameo appearances in hilarious roles, like Sarah Silverman as a strange counselor with a foot fetish and Patton Oswalt as a shady spy-tech dealer.
As one of the commentaries wryly notes, HBO canceled Bored To Death and this is the final season. The humor won’t be for everyone, but there are enough belly laughs over the course of eight episodes to make it worth checking out. Fans of the actors should definitely give the show a chance. There is not a huge amount of replay value once you’ve seen the series, but its risqué humor is laced with sharp dialog and slapstick moments.
HBO always gives their shows the royal treatment on Blu-ray and Bored To Death is no exception. It looks spectacular from the opening scene and maintains a nearly unprecedented level of video quality for a comedy. Shot on one of the newest and best digital HD cameras, the Arri Alexa, the picture is pristine. The show is presented in its native aspect ratio of 1.78:1 at 1080p. HBO series always have better production values than comparable network shows and Bored To Death fits neatly into that paradigm.
The eight episodes of season three, around 200 minutes in total, are spread evenly over two separate BD-50s at extremely generous video bitrates. The AVC video encode for each episode averages well over 30 Mbps, producing a stellar image that reproduces the original master as closely as the Blu-ray format will allow, without a digital artifact in sight. Pitch-perfect contrast and a neutral color palette creates a very pleasing picture. A garden blooms to life in stunning green, while Super Ray’s costume of yellow and red explodes off the screen like a comic book. Black levels are deep with exquisite shadow detail. A slight level of black crush is evident in a handful of early interior scenes, but on the whole does not prove a problem at all.
The vivid, clean picture is incredibly sharp with magnificent resolution. It’s quite easy to differentiate the amount of high-frequency detail in close-ups, from freshly shaved stubble to individual strands of hair. Focus is robotic-like in its precision, giving the image a palpable sense of depth and dimension. Bored To Death does not have the best picture on Blu-ray, but it surely is at the top of the pile in that category for comedies.
The main soundtrack option is a 5.1 DTS-HD MA affair that’s pleasant and does as much as it can with comedic material. Dialog is crisp and the musical score fills all channels, but there aren’t a huge amount of opportunities for flashy surround effects. Ambient noises mostly come into play during exterior shots, as the rear channels fill with the sounds of New York City. The music is quite dynamic with fidelity befitting a new release.
Also included are a 5.1 DTS soundtrack in French and a 2.0 DTS soundtrack in Spanish. Subtitle options include English SDH, French, and Spanish.
HBO has provided a sizable number of extra features. The primary extras are four separate commentaries, multiple deleted scenes, a plethora of outtakes for each episode, and short featurettes about each episode from the show’s creator, Jonathan Ames. Four episodes get group commentaries from all the main stars and Ames himself participating, but frankly they aren’t that entertaining. It’s nice that stars like Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis participate, but the commentaries aren’t funny and at times sound like dull remembrances of set life.
All the deleted scenes and multiple outtakes are finished in HD and look as polished as the main episodes. There is nothing that is must-see entertainment in them, but they round out the package nicely for devoted fans. The very short featurettes about each episode by Jonathan Ames give just a little more insight into the series.
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