If you’ve never seen Jonathan Ames’s recently cancelled HBO show Bored to Death, you might want to brush up on the premium cable mystery/comedy show, for costar Ted Danson recently suggested in an interview with French journalist Pierre Lenglas (according to Lenglas’s Twitter account) that a feature-length Bored to Death movie might be in the works. To be fair, nothing official has been announced and, according to Vulture, HBO qualified Danson’s statement my stating that the creators and talent of the show are only in the early stages of conversation. But with Jason Schwartzman and Zack Galifianakis rounding out the show’s cast, a Bored to Death movie might make quite a bit of sense.
Bored to Death ran for three seasons from 2009–2011, and chronicled the misadventures of Jonathan Ames (Schwartzman), a struggling writer who becomes an amateur detective in order to get over being dumped by his girlfriend Suzanne (Olivia Thirlby). His best friend Ray (Galifianakis) is a deeply insecure comic book artist who struggles to maintain power in his relationship with his on-again, off-again girlfriend Leah (Heather Burns). Danson plays Ames’s boss, George Christopher, the editor of a New Yorker-style magazine and a ginormous pothead. While the show lost steam for me in its third season, Bored to Death was a clever and surprisingly warm show about the difficulties of commitment, the changes in New York City’s boroughs, the death of the printed word, and narcissism. It’s the type of show that could only have aired on HBO.
HBO is a network with a reputation for giving creative freedom to its showrunners. HBO execs rarely dictate content, allow shows to run above or below a given time slot (several episodes of The Wire, for instance, often ran over sixty minutes – to give a comparison, one of the stipulations that delayed the most recent season of Mad Men was whether or not the show could retain its per-episode 48-minute runtime or be reduced to 45), and HBO typically lets its shows run to completion. As a subscription network, HBO likes to draw in viewers because of its original programming, but the survival of each show is not necessarily dictated by ratings because paid subscribers pay for the entire network. Thus, a show being cancelled on HBO is kind of a big deal, so the possibility that the network might bankroll a feature film of a show they recently cancelled is rather surprising.
Or maybe it isn’t. From Flight of the Conchords to Girls, it seems that HBO is contractually required to air at least one Brooklyn-set show geared toward twentysomething hipsters, and Bored to Death was one of these shows. Now, Bored to Death certainly has appeal outside audiences late-20s early-30s, but viewers of that age group rarely have the resources to subscribe to premium cable networks. Thus, a movie might be a more fitting medium for a show like Bored to Death.
The rumors surrounding a Bored to Death movie follow the feature development of similar appreciated-but-cancelled shows like Arrested Development and Party Down. The “we’re talking, but nothing is set in stone” line is something familiar to anyone who has been following the possible adaptation of these shows to the big screen. As much as I am anticipating the return of the Bluth family, certain shows seem like they were perfectly made for the medium of television. However, each episode of Bored to Death was rather self-contained in its portrayal of the Holmesian process of solving a low-risk mystery, a narrative structure that could easily be expanded to feature length (with just a bigger mystery). So it’s perhaps a bit easier to imagine what a Bored to Death movie might look like compared to other TV shows.
What do you think of a possible Bored to Death movie?