His second book has been rejected, and Jonathan Ames has some soul-searching to do... when he isn't working as a private eye or juggling his friends' problems. "Bored to Death: Season Two" maintains the same quirky mix of comedy, mystery and Ames' own personal experiences -- and the trio of Jason Schwartzman, Zak Galifianakis and Ted Danson is perfectly hilarious.
After his book is rejected, Jonathan (Schwartzman) is teaching a writing class at a night school. But of course, he's still doing his oddball detective job -- hired to infiltrate an S&M dungeon, following possibly-adulterous spouses, being kidnapped by drug-running thugs, tracking down a valuable book, busting a dognapper, delivering a love letter at a Chinese spa, and dealing with Ray's psycho stalker.
And though his love life is still a disaster, Jonathan is reinspired as a writer -- he starts turning his detective stories into fiction. At the same time, Ray (Galifianakis) is devastated when his girlfriend dumps him because he didn't like yoga class, and channels his sorrow into his comic books. And George (Danson) discovers that he may have prostate cancer, which unsurprisingly throws him into devastating tizzy.
The second season of "Bored to Death" is not too different from the first one -- it's arty, quirky, infused with New Yorkitude, and full of funny moments that never stray into outright ridiculousness. But while the tone is much the same, the writers weave in some very different subplots, particularly the serious subplot about George's prostate cancer.
And the writing is really, really clever. Without resting too long on any one joke, the writers dabble in humor of all kinds -- elf ears, polyamory, penis-centric comic books, rubber bullets, transvestitism, S&M, and medical mixups. There are plenty of funny scenes (Jonathan spies on a cheating wife... who is cheating with George!) and hilarious dialogue ("You know, I never thought I'd be in a graveyard in a spa robe talking to a beautiful transvestite in the moonlight").
Schwartzman's Jonathan spends the first half of the season treading water, and for awhile it feels like nothing new is happening. Fortunately he does get his butt in gear, and there are hints that Jonathan's new artistic path is one he's destined to stick with. Plus he's getting a bit more gutsy with the slimy Louis. And as always, he tries his best to really help the people around him.
Danson and Galifianakis round out this comic trio nicely, handling their serious subplots (possible prostate cancer and broken heart) with the right combination of humor and poignancy. There's also a new addition to the cast: Ajay Naidu as George's feisty driver Vikram, who is absolutely hilarious. Also: Kevin Bacon makes a small appearance as himself... and he is gutsplittingly funny.
The beginning is a little slow, but "Bored to Death: Season Two" retains its quirky balance of comedy and drama. And it really, really makes you wish the third season was here already.