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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bored to Death finds "Two Large Pearls and a Bar of Gold"

     HBO's Bored to Death's latest installment is called "Two Large Pearls and a Bar of Gold." Jonathan (Jason Schwartzman) is tasked with protecting some family jewels for his ex-girlfriend, Patty (Casey Wilson, Happy Endings, Saturday Night Live), on the eve of her wedding, and brings Ray (Zach Galifianakis) and George (Ted Danson) along to help. But things get complicated when Patty insists on carrying out a pact she made with Jonathan, which entitles her to one more roll in the hay with him. Then things get hairy as a masked bandit attacks and steals the jewels. Jonathan puts the clues together, and realizes that Patty's father, Henry (Rene Auberjonois, Boston Legal, Star Trek: Deep Space 9), is the thief, as he wants the insurance money.

     It's nice that George and Jonathan are good again. Their separation is as hard on the audience as it is on the characters. With George and Ray independently growing closer, Bored to Death creates a Three Amigos relationship that plays very strongly. In "Two Large Pearls and a Bar of Gold," this relationship is shown as much as ever, with the three spending a lot of time together on another crazy adventure. It's like their complete, non-judgmental acceptance of each others' eccentricities that gets the flow going. Their pleasure with each other is our pleasure with the series.

     Ray needs his friends right now. Leah (Heather Burns) catches him playing in the bathtub with Belinda (the great Olympia Dukakis, Steel Magnolias, Mr. Holland's Opus), and she kicks Ray out. Ray strays with Belinda after having a fight with Leah, and his heart truly belongs to his girlfriend. Ray blames it on a case of "elder love," which doesn't really explain anything. But he is sincere in wanting to make up with Leah, and for that reason, despite his nasty actions, it's hard not to root for Ray to win his lady love back. Plus, Ray and Leah fight and split up way too much, and it would be nice to see them more stable.

     George is heading for stability with Josephine (Danson's real life wife, Mary Steenburgen, Curb Your Enthusiasm). Though he has problems with impotence in "Two Large Pearls and a Bar of Gold," they are two kindred spirits who share a love for pot. While George claims to be unavailable for a female companion, Josephine is already latched on, and George doesn't seem to mind. What will be the true test of their relationship, and could potentially ends things, is if George puts Jonathan and Ray ahead of Josephine. Which he most likely will, given their platonic closeness.

     Wilson is hilarious in sitcoms, and Bored to Death is no different. She brings just the right level of crazy to be believable as an ex of Jonathan's, but not too over the top that he would resist her. Similarly, Auberjonis, a fantastic performer in his own right, is wholly sympathetic in a role that could easily be a villain. They continue the wonderful lineup of guest actors this season, which includes Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt, Dick Cavett, Bebe Neuwirth, and, of course, John Hodgman and Oliver Platt. It is interesting, but not surprising, that Bored to Death, with its unique brand of absurdity, can attract such talent. But each appearance is wholly appreciated on its own merits.

     It's deeply regrettable that I forgot to review Bored to Death until now this year, and I am deeply sorry. But there are still two episodes left, so make sure to catch them. Bored to Death airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

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