Bored to Death Season 1, Episode 1: 'Stockholm Syndrome' Early Review - Featured

HBO released their new 'noir' comedy pilot, 'Stockholm Syndrome' a little early before its official premiere this Sunday at 9:30/8:30c, so I jumped on checking out what I was hoping to be my next HBO addiction!

Addiction (so far), it is not, but a must-try new comedy it is. I had high expectations with the show starring Jason Schwartzman since I've loved him in every movie of his I've seen and I know full-well he's one of those actors that makes the movie or show. But, much to my disappointment, I was underwhelmed by Schwartzman in the pilot.

The confusing point is that his character, Jonathan, is meant to be underwhelming as a person. He's a quirky writer who drinks too much, smokes too much pot, and couldn't even get himself together enough when his girlfriend was leaving him for not being able to quit the drinking and pot.

But there's a difference between playing an underwhelming, pathetic character and doing an underwhelming job of it. I expected lots of tragic comedy to his down-and-outness, but instead, his character more followed the bored and dull part of his character.

It was still tragically funny to see him yelling after the moving truck driving away with his girlfriend and all her stuff yelling that he could stop drinking the white wine, but he liked the way he thought when he was high, yada yada. But once that part was done, not much happened besides the set-up of how he came to put his detective ad on craigslist and how disastrous and pathetic starting out was going to be.

For his first case, he was trying to track down a girl's missing sister which ended up pretty entertaining as it led him to follow the trail of the sister's tattooed bartender boyfriend to a by-the-hour hotel where he had to pay just to sit in the lobby chair for hours waiting for any sign of them. So yes, as it sounds, funny. But there was still something missing.

I think the issue is he needs to develop more of a personality before the plot around him is going to be interesting. If Jonathan is really going to stick to just being a bored writer/fake private detective without much more to him than being a body going about that business, I have to say I'll be done with this one as much as I want to like it.

Ted Danson's drug-addicted political figure character, George, and Jonathan's buddy Ray, played by Zach Galifianakis have plenty of potential to make for really strong, dynamic cast members, so I believe it was just the purposefully very introductory style of the pilot that didn't allow their characters to quite deliver, or at least here's hoping. Danson's pretty funny as basically the equivalent of Kevin Nealon's character on Weeds, so I think that should help a good amount once there's more room for him to play it up in further episodes.

So overall, I'd say I'm feeling a little wishy-washy about this premiere as you can probably tell by the strong hope, but not the strong feelings about the premiere itself. I'd say because it has such a strong comedic cast, is on HBO, and is a unique story, give this one a chance, and watch about 3 episodes before making your full judgment.

What do you think if you watched the pre-released pilot?


Sep 19, 2009 2:43PM EDT

looks to go either way. it could be funny, but there gonna have to strain to make it both believable and entertaining. also, after watching the second episode, i fond myself wanting more intricate mysteries. granted, its not like i'd expect a guy with a posting on craigslist to come across a murder, but i felt that both cases were so simple that even with the woody alan like approach of Jonathan it should have been over much sooner. if the writers can pull off interesting storylines to match the clever dialogue, i may have found a new favorite. if they cant get over that hurdle though, all the witty life commentary in the world wont save it from crash and burning.
i do like the characters though. i completely understand what you meant by playing underwhelming and being underwhelming, and like kendra i expect big things form Jason's acting in the future. so far i think he's done a vary good job of portraying and aimless 30 something new yorker seeking something more out of life; i mean normally i can't stand those whiney types, but i find him quite charming. i haven't seen enough of the supporting characters, but i am a fan of Zach Galifianakis, and i've seen good things from Ted Danson in other works. although .... my initial impression of Ted's character, George, was that he had no consistency, either in description or action. i'd explain further but im not sure i can. anyone else get that feeling?

Default avatar cat
Sep 20, 2009 8:01PM EDT

I had high hopes, also, due to Jason Schwartzman (I <3 "I <3 Huckabees")... I found myself thinking: I know the title is "Bored to Death," but is that the effect they're really going for? If so, they just about did it for me w/this epi...but I will watch it a few more times, just for Jason's sake...and Ted Danson- he was good. Btw, did anyone recognize the downstairs neighbor as the king's assistant in "Kings?"

Sep 22, 2009 10:16PM EDT

I thought this was an insanely funny show from beginning to end. I laughed and laughed and laughed. I thought the couple were lacking but if this comedy keeps up I will be watching or downloading this show every monday.I love it when he talks about his addiction to weed and how he used it to calm down the boyfriend. However, I think it was a lil too convenient to have the tied up girl just be ok with the boyfriend tying her up for comedic effect but it goes to show how weird women are. So I guess, I could forgive that. Zack is funny as hell. Lol, you ladies know you like to be tied up and treated dirty. Lol. Funny on so many levels and if you haven't seen Funny people and Knocked up and you are not a fan of this guy you need to get your funny bone checked.

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