Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bored to Death but "Nothing I Can't Handle By Running Away"

     Season three of HBO's Bored to Death comes to a close with "Nothing I Can't Handle By Running Away." Jonathan (Jason Schwartzman) tries to make amends with his biological father, grifter Bergeron (Stacy Keach, Prison Break, Lights Out), only to get kidnapped by some thugs whom Bergeron owes money to. George (Ted Danson) springs into action to save Jonathan, and brings along Ray (Zach Galifianakis) and his league of Super Rays (including The Office's Zach Woods), who are all in costume. Even though the bad guys have guns, a happy ending is found by all, in a slapstick, roundabout way. 

     Bored to Death is one of the most original, consitently funny series on television. Part buddy comedy, part film noir, and lots of other, less identifiable parts, "Nothing I Can't Handle By Running Away" embraces all of those signature elements, crafting a heck of a finale that should satisfy any fan of the show. It's odd that Jonathan, George, and Ray have now defeated actual evil people a couple of times, and remain unscathed. Yet, somehow, they do it. And it is quality television to a point where one doesn't spend much time pondering how unrealistic it probably is.

     The showdown in the stadium is meant to bring pure joy for the viewers, and that it does. No matter that three groundskeepers happen to be in a sort of mob, and can't shoot Jonathan, who isn't a deft or fast runner. George's commentary from the press box only adds to the hilarity of the scene, giving it a surreal quality. Not to mention the unathletic quality of the various Super Rays.

     But there is much, much more to Bored to Death than humor. The friendship between Ray, George, and Jonathan is heartwarming and strong. George and Ray do not hesitate to rush to their friend's aide when he is in need, with little worry for their own safety. It's why their friendship stands the test of time, even when Ray can't make things work with Leah (Heather Burns). Instead, Ray is reduced to seeking dirty, dirty elder love, including with a new lady (Lynn Cohen, Sex and the City) in the finale.

     George, unlike Ray, is making strides with family, too. Learning from Jonathan and Ray how to be a father figure, he is able to reconnect with his daughter, Emily (Halley Feiffer, Mildred Pierce), and throw a wedding for her and her completely inappropriate fiance, Bernard (David Rasche, Rubicon, Ugly Betty). With all of this love to give, he may even manage to make things work with Josephine (Mary Steenburgen, Danson's real-life wife, and a delightful addition to the cast). Thus, George ends "Nothing I Can't Handle By Running Away" in the best place of the trio.

     Jonathan is left in a very weird spot at the end of season three. For one, he doesn't realize that Bergeron does, indeed, return to try to save him, rather than just running away. Which means, Jonathan misses a connection with his dad that will hopefully be revisited, should HBO wisely order a fourth season. Even bigger, Jonathan decides not to tell Rose (Isla Fisher, Wedding Crashers) that they are half brother and sister. It's disturbing, though not having been raised together, the incest is technical, rather than ingrained. Still, Jonathan can never really be happy with someone he knows he is related so closely to. And thus, it must end in a big, messy way, with her furious for having kept the secret, and likely not even wanting a sibling-esque relationship with him. The drama!

     Please, HBO, bring back this quirky, wonderful series for a fourth season!

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