Were Audiences Bored To Death Or Was It Cancelled Too Soon?

HBO's offbeat noir comedy Bored To Death was cancelled last month after three seasons. We mourn the loss...

It is both upsetting and unfortunate that more often than not truly great and inventive US sitcoms get cancelled before their time is up, and rarely see the light of day on this side of the pond. The obvious example is of course the rapturously funny and anarchic Arrested Development, which was ground to a halt after three brilliant seasons. It€™s perhaps understandable why the fly on the wall story of a madcap and highly unorthodox family of down and out real estate moguls got the chop, its humour relied on characters which were subtly and intricately drawn across fifty three densely packed episodes, and its multi-narrative structure meant it wasn€™t exactly easy to pick up for the casual viewer. Jokes more often than not rely on knowledge of other jokes from several episodes previous, which makes for a rewarding experience for the diehard fan, but a bit of a nightmare to channel hoppers hoping to get hooked. Upon its original broadcasts you could only catch Arrested Development in and around the obscure midnight hours on BBC2, not exactly primetime viewing. It may not have been a hit but has gone on to have a devoted cult fan base, and ever hopeful talk of a film in the pipeline. Hopefully a similar fate will befall Bored To Death, one of the best US sitcoms of recent years, which is certainly a contest with no shortage of competitors, Community and Always Sunny in Philadelphia being the other contemporary rivals to the crown. Bored To Death, however, will no longer have a stake in the competition as it was cancelled last month after three seasons. The reasons for its cancellation are mainly down to poor viewing figures, a paltry 240,000 tuned into to season three€™s premier back in the autumn, which isn€™t the most encouraging of numbers when compared with the other smash hits HBO have had on their hands in the past. The shows unique blend of comedy and film noir, infused throughout with sharp pop and literary culture references, may have alienated a more mainstream audience. Or perhaps it was the show€™s setting of Brooklyn was a bit too geographically specific, a bit too hipster heavy. Or maybe it has suffered the same fate as Arrested Development, it was simply too complex and reliant on viewer€™s knowledge of the various subplots and characters. Whatever it is that has meant the show attracting little fans and an eventual death, it has now been laid to rest in an increasingly overcrowded sitcom cemetery. But that€™s enough lamenting; we are here to celebrate a sharp, warm and ultimately very funny sitcom. For those yet to be initiated Jason Schwartzman plays Jonathan Ames a writer, struggling to start his second novel, when his girlfriend leaves him, he decides to begin moonlighting as an unlicensed private detective, finding inspiration in his literary forebears Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Along the way we meet Jonathan€™s two best friends and eventual partners in crime, George Christopher (played with scene stealing hilarity by Ted Danson) a mildly eccentric magazine editor, who seems to be in a perpetual midlife crisis, and Ray Hueston (Zach Galifianakis) a loveable comic writer who seems to have some deep seated psychological problems, not helped by the trio€™s almost giddy love of smoking a lot of weed. Such a base plot description makes this sound like Harold and Kumar for the telly, but the show eschews a series of comedy capers based around all of the characters being stoned. Ultimately its strikes the kind of fine balance a great rom-com should aspire to, its jokes have heart, is characters are extremely likeable and all of the plot twists and turns make the show highly addictive. Jonathan€™s cases as an investigator range from the simple stalking of affair seeking lovers, to the destroying of S&M club records and all sorts of absurd activities besides, often ending episodes on cliff-hangers, its kind like watching a bizarre hybrid of When Harry Met Sally and The Maltese Falcon with a little bit of highbrow/stoner humour thrown in for good measure. The show has had a small scale release over here on Sky€™s relatively new Atlantic channel, but that hasn€™t exactly caused much of a fuss, at least in comparison to how the cancellation was taken in Brooklyn, where series creator Jonathan Ames (himself a real life Brooklyn based novelist) held an evening of mourning at a local Bar, inviting fans to come along, and if they shook his hand he would buy them a drink. All may not be lost though as one fan commented on Twitter €œStar Trek was cancelled after three seasons€, we can live in hope that Bored To Death will go on to find a larger audience now it has been martyred for being a fresh and inventive take on the most quintessentially American TV genre. Previously; BORED TO DEATH With All This Talk Of Boardwalk!

I am a film student with a love of almost anything filmic, I blog about film at www.seriousaboutcinema.blogspot.com