Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Bored To Death: “Forget The Herring”

Illustration for article titled Bored To Death: “Forget The Herring”

This week’s Bored to Death was predictable in most ways, but surprising in one: I really didn’t expect Ray to be truly finished with Leah, but it really seems like they are kaput. Which makes total sense – as she told Ray, they really do seem to make each other miserable despite their genuine affection for each other. Just because he had some sort of an emotional epiphany about being scared of intimacy or something doesn’t really change that.

But, since it’s so common on TV for grand romantic gestures like an impulsive marriage proposal to wipe away all past misdeeds, and since Heather Burns is an above-the-line cast member, I thought she’d accept. We’ve still got one episode this season, so this may not have been the last we see of Leah, but if this show does come back for another year I think it’d be far more interesting to have Ray to be single. Zach Galifianakis is arguably the biggest star on this show but he’s been narratively boxed in for much of it with dull storylines like Leah and baby Spencer. Not to say he doesn’t do good work on the show – I found he and Heather Burns quite affecting in their breakup scene – but he doesn’t get to be funny enough.

His and George’s increasingly symbiotic relationship was good fun, though, especially when Ray lectured George about babying him (which he only likes at bed and meal times) which prompted George to call him “Mr. Grumpy” and poke him and make baby noises. Now, pretty much everything Ted Danson does on this show is funny (my single biggest laugh came as he was awoken at 10 a.m. and asked, “was there a financial crisis?”). But I could watch him poke Galifianakis like the Pillsbury Doughboy all day and night on a loop, I swear to God.

Hell, that happens before he dons a Don Quixote outfit to sing “The Impossible Dream” in his musical revue and ends up “riding” his “horse” down the city streets to serenade Emily and patch up their relationship, hopefully for good. Remember when I said this episode was predictable in most ways? Yes, from the minute George began worrying about Emily coming to his performance, it was obvious that he’d end up singing directly to her (and Bernard, who I was honestly quite happy to see). The only real breakthrough George has made here is not to try and control his nutty daughter, and it’s taken way too long for that to occur to him, but I’ll take it. I hope the season finale doesn’t revolve around Emily’s wedding or something (I fear it might) as we’ve wasted too much time on this story already. But I’ll put up with a lot of stuff to see Ted Danson sing “The Impossible Dream” in a Don Quixote outfit.

Jonathan dominated proceedings this week, however, as the mystery of his parentage was solved, not really thanks to him, although more on that in a second. Isla Fisher shows up sporting an odd accent and a generally cute demeanor as Rose, who also tracks her parentage to the burned-down sperm bank that produced Jonathan and leads our hero patiently to Riker’s Island and then Coney Island to solve everything once and for all. It’s a knowing, broad commentary on how inept a detective Jonathan truly is, and a little unfair—he definitely has demonstrated some deduction skills over the last two years, and it’s not his fault the writers have been so pokey in advancing his fatherhood mystery.

But I was happy to see Jonathan, however inadvertently, solve the final mystery, which is that the wonderful Stacy Keach—doing fine work playing the former owner of the sperm bank and current owner of a boardwalk tourist shack—is his father. He didn’t do it through any kind of deductive reasoning, but just by yelling at him for not having any records. Jonathan’s skill on the show has often been that the people he’s investigating find him weirdly sympathetic—that was no different this time. A small victory for Mr. Ames, perhaps, but a victory nonetheless.


Unfortunately, the news that Stacy Keach is his dad is tempered by the news that Rose is therefore his half-sister and all that sex they had (somewhere in the middle of the episode) was more Game Of Thrones than it originally looked. Oh, Jonathan. Will you ever have normal relations with a woman? Stay tuned to find out!

Stray observations:

  • Jonathan sticks to white wine instead of whiskey. “I tend to black out and throw up on the brown stuff.”
  • Rose felt sorry for Jonathan on the Cavett show, mostly because he went crotched closed instead of crotch open when crossing his legs.
  • Chris Elliott was wonderfully sad/creepy as firebug Fishman; his purple tongue made a disgusting guest appearance.
  • Stacy Keach was just wonderful in his role. I especially enjoyed him punching the souvenir hat, and his line which formed the title of the episode: “All these fish make me nervous. I can’t swim! I like herring in cream sauce, that’s about it.”