Bored To Death: "The Case Of The Missing Skateboard"
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Bored To Death: "The Case Of The Missing Skateboard"

What a strange episode for this show. "Skateboard" marks a drastic improvement over the beginning of the series as far as the supporting characters; for the first time, I felt like Ray's defeated-guy schtick was fully realized, and George's midlife desperation was palpable. But the story itself was lacking—too many half-formed ideas came together, and the result was a less-than-satisfying story arc whose zigs and zags felt unearned.

Tonight Ray finally gives up his seed to the lesbian fans who are hoping for an artistic, yet unbearded child. Ray's post-orgasmic dance ("All that jizz!") is the happiest we see him so far this series, and of course things get much worse from there. His girlfriend is upset with the surrogate arrangement he has with the ladies—though it's a little too late for that—and he confides in Jonathan later on that this is the most he ever wants to really think about fatherhood, squeezing one off and leaving it at that. His girlfriend's kids are eating him alive; and not only that, but his one chance to get into the fold with Jonathan, picking him up after he steals a skateboard back from some punks, he botches because he's so nervous about being involved. Galifianakis manages to avoid playing the character too pathetically—his Ray is less "woe is me" and more "so it goes"—and Ray is a delight to have around.

Speaking of pathetic, Danson's come into his own as George Christopher, amping up the man's obliviousness to his own age-redefining jaunts and making for some entertaining moments. The innocent way he asks Jonathan if his ridiculous outfit makes him look too young; the amped-up stoner paranoia; the coy excitement over this new young publicist he meets. George Christopher has come a long way from the philosophical bitty who used to constantly ask for pot, and nothing more.

So far so good, then. But man oh man, that story tonight. The problem with Bored To Death continues to be Jonathan Ames—both as a writer and the main character. Tonight's episode has Ames taking on another case, a free-thinking single mom (Parker Posey) who wants to get her son's skateboard back from some older punks who stole it. Ames makes out with her, and begins ridiculous plot point number one: Since when is he such a chick magnet? Now he's doing this thing for free, like a little puppy dog. What happened to the "noir" part of "noir-otic comedy"?

Ames finds the boy he's looking for, approaches him, and gets scared off. So he grabs the skateboard when it slips away from the kid, Francisco, and makes a break for it. He runs for a while, skates on the board by sitting on it, then gets in Ray's car and drives away. The whole time, the skater guys are chasing him down, menacingly. For you see, Jonathan was beat up as a kid by bullies, and this whole incident takes him back. Or, maybe? Point two: They talk a lot about this fact, but never really get into it. It's the equivalent of being chased by some kids, blurting out, "I was chased by kids as a kid myself. Run!" and expecting it to mean a little bit more in some overarching story. It doesn't.

So far I'm pretty much okay with everything that's happened, but point three is unforgivable. The big climax of the episode occurs while Jonathan and George are at the restaurant opening. George wants to get with the publicist girl, and so everything needs to be running smoothly. But the kids spot Jonathan going in, and proceed to bang on the window outside. No one makes them go away, not after a few times of this. Eventually they break the window all over the pig everyone was going to eat, quickly put the blame on Jonathan by saying, "It's the big nose guys' fault," then run away. The evening is ruined, and everyone hates Jonathan.

But wait. If this happened to you in real life, wouldn't you just be like, "I don't know who they are, they're just yelling shit out" or something? Everyone reacts to the situation like Jonathan himself threw the pig at the kids or something. He didn't really embarrass anyone; the kids did. But the event ostracizes him all the same. After all, he's the noir-otic one, even if they have to force it.

Stray observations:

  • Oh, goody, he's writing a Kama Sutra book. I hope that's important.
  • George's armpit story: disgusting, or intriguing?
  • I did enjoy the way Jonathan slid across the car—like it's something he knows detectives have to do, but he doesn't know how to do it.

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