porcelainandporcupines

Great Achievements in Western Civilization : Bored to Death

Posted on: January 1, 2012

It was with no small amount of sadness that I read the news last week that HBO decided to cancel Bored to Death. In the recently ended third season the show –  about a fictionalized version of Jonathon Ames, a writer with whom I have no familiarity outside of Bored to Death, so what creative liberties have been taken with his person I couldn’t tell you (makes you wonder why I brought that up, doesn’t it?), who, after a wrenching breakup with his girlfriend in the series premiere, becomes an unlicensed private investigator by placing an ad on Craigslist – the show was really beginning to find its footing. If you’re wondering why I or anyone would spend three seasons watching a show of uncertain balance that could also fairly be described as being a bit too enamored of its own cleverness, I’ll tell you*. Better yet, I’ll show you:

 

 

That, dear readers, is Ted Danson, in character as George Christopher, who, himself dressed in character as Don Quixote,  in the middle of a not-entirely-tuneful rendition of “The Impossible Dream,” realized that he had wronged his daughter and set off at a gallop through the streets of Brooklyn to apologize to her. And though it cannot be argued that it took a writer – and likely a clever one at that – to conceive of the scene in the first place, I, along with anyone else who watched the show – and there were dozens of us – would respectfully yet adamantly suggest that it took Ted Danson to make it amazing.

I lack the actorly vocabulary to fully describe the level of craft that Mr. Danson brings to the role of George Christopher, but I have watched enough television in my life to know an outstanding performance when I see one, and to refer to Ted Danson in Bored to Death as outstanding is to insult Ted Danson. George is the only character to mature throughout the course of the series, going from a one-note older man trying to hold on to his youth in the first season, to facing his mortality and a (n ultimately incorrect) diagnosis of cancer and settling into his role as elder statesman and father figure not just to the kid from Rushmore who plays Jonathon Ames and Zach Galifianakis who plays Ray, but also to his own daughter, in the second and third. Again, it is a writer who set up the story arc for George, but, after seeing Ted Danson in the role, it seems unlikely that any other actor could have so effortlessly conveyed each phase, the transitions between them, and still made the character – ridiculous though he could be at times – likeable throughout.

Alas, with the cancellation, George Christopher will ride no more. Stacy Keach, who I have oddly been fond of since his portrayal of the lovelorn Union soldier who tragically loses both his wife and one of his arms in The Blue and the Gray, which we watched in Mr. M’s class in 5th grade, will not be reprising his role as the seedy owner of second-rate sperm bank and Jonathon’s real father (ummmm, spoiler). And the television landscape will be home to fewer Boo Radley and Harrison Bergeron references.

None of this is to say that you should (or should have) watch(ed) Bored to Death. But even if you don’t get a nerdy little thrill out of a good Boo Radley reference like I do, you probably should watch the episode where George sings “The Impossible Dream”. And then tell me how to start a fan campaign to get Ted Danson an award for it. Because, once you’ve seen it, you’ll agree : he’s earned it.

*Also, each season is only 8 episodes, so it was never too much of an investment of my time.

 

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