Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Missing Screenplay, Men With White Hair, Norwegian Producers

"But, what is it, what does it mean, to be loved by the French?"

This week's episode of Bored to Death (the HBO series' third, titled The Case of the Missing Screenplay - coincidentally also the working title of Transformers 2) featured bit parts from film director Jim Jarmusch (loved by the French, subject of a documentary screening at the Festival du Nouveau Cinema), a timely Roman Polanski joke (the writing of which would have pre-dated the director's most recent troubles in Switzerland, where he's currently being held without bail - thank you, Zeitgeist!), a mixed bag of Jungian & Freudian psychotherapy, and Oliver Platt as the editor of GQ and rival of Ted Danson's George character. Now that the big American cable channels have decided to embark upon becoming broadcasters of sometimes culturally relevant and well-written (if not that, at least well-meaning) fare, their core, traditional audience of horny teenage boys* might feel left out. Sensing the (wanton) need, Bored to Death gave us a gratuitious display of the breasts of Trieste Kelly Dunn's Sophia character to entice that core constituency. She'll return for the sixth episode. For the trainspotters who got all enthused by the Young Marble Giants in the first episode, this week's episode features Flott Flyt by Norwegian Diskjokke (Joachim Dyrdah) from his Staying In album, and not to be confused with other Norwegian producer Lindstrom. (Diskjokke had previously remixed Lindstrom's Breakfast in Heaven, though.) Above you'll find two tracks so you can compare.

Is Bored to Death funny? It's what you'd expect, which isn't a bad thing - it's mannered and it's more drama than comedy, which is fine. It's enjoyable. It doesn't try to be overly clever. Californication, which also is about a struggling alcoholic writer dealing with the aftermath of his failed relationship tries to be both clever and crude, and only succeeds in the latter.

Expecting that I'd get my weekly ration of guffaws and big laughs from Curb Your Enthusiasm's highly-touted Seinfeld reunion turned out to be a mistake - talk about one boring snoozefest. I guess it's a sign of cultural relevance and success that the tidy little dialogue trick that Seinfeld introduced to the world ("Is that a testament?" "It's a testament!" "Testament?" "Testament!") is such a standard trick in the toolkit of lazy teleplay writers everywhere, because it was really, really, really boring. Mamet-speak and Sorkin-droid, as suffocating as they can be, aren't this limited. It might be interesting to have the Seinfeld characters caught in a lengthy, looping Terry Riley-like interaction, ("Testament?" "Testament!" "Testament?" "Testament!") trapped by their own inability to escape, as each repetition becomes, as in Nietzschean eternal recurrence more and more meaningful, man. Next episode, maybe?

If you're in the US, you can catch all three episodes of Bored to Death back to back tonight on HBO starting at 9pm, or just download the torrent from EZTV, this time without the nasty HBO logo overlay.

Addenda: HBO has green-lighted Bored to Death for a second season.

*And let's be clear, the audience for HBO's Bored to Death (which it's aware of and plays off of) is a variation on that niche: horny boys in their mid to late 20s who haven't quite grown out of certain juvenilia.

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