Episode Commentary: The Case of the Stolen Skateboard
“Bored to Death” had a rocky start with a mediocre first episode, a lousy second episode, a decent third one and an entertaining but ultimately pointless fourth episode entitled “The Case of the Stolen Skateboard.”
For starters, it is directed by Michael Lehmann, whose best film to date is the cult classic “Heathers.” Lehmann has a lot of visual flair, and understands telling stories from the teenage to early 30s generation from a bit of a dark side to contrast the upbeat John Hughes films of that era. That perspective is exactly what “Bored to Death” needs to keep it afloat.
The episode clocks in at a lousy 22 minutes, which makes it the shortest episode yet, and while it is never boring it doesn’t provide any character development to the sinking series. The fourth episode is no time to slack for a series, and when you air on HBO, you can let your imagination run wild.
It starts off promising, with a lesbian couple wanting Ray Hueston’s (Zach Galifianakis) sperm to impregnate themselves, and when Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman) enters, his pal is in the bathroom taking care of business. Hueston’s wife is uncomfortable with this situation, and it shows through her nervous reactions. This dinner party would have been a great aspect to focus the episode on, creating a Woody Allen-esque approach to the humor.
However, it does not focus long on this promising concept. Instead, it launches into a case of a stolen skateboard for the son of the eccentric and adorable Parker Posey. A quirky romance begins to blossom but is never fleshed out, making it very lazy writing.
The skateboard is discovered to have been stolen by a gang of punks, and by reclaiming it, Ames starts a war with the punks that refer to him as “Big Nose.” This segment of the series is the only fleshed-out concept here. The struggle ensues and the tension Ames feels is palpable and relatable. Everything comes to a funny and shocking twist at a random get together.
Ames is getting the skateboard free of charge in hopes of a romance, and the slightly shocking ending feels to abrupt.
“Bored to Death” is not a lousy series or a great one, and that tends to be frustrating for viewers. If it throws away the lazy writing and conventions of normal television, it has the potential to be a great cult series.