By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist May 26, 2011 at 9:58AM
The Playlist's brief flirtation with television continues... Yesterday, we dipped our toe into the murky waters of the debate around whether the quality of television has now surpassed that of contemporary film (conclusion: it's a silly question), and now, as the TV season wraps up this week, we're examining the evidence, the shows that keep The Playlist team going on weekends when movie theaters are bereft of anything that doesn't insult our intelligence.
We've tried to include a bit of everything: comedy, drama, science-fiction and everything in between, reflecting the taste of our hive mind. But there's some obvious absences, as you'll see. For one, we've tried to keep it to shows that aired in the tradition September-May TV season, excluding the likes of "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad," which aired a year ago, but would otherwise be nestling in the other reaches.
We've also tried to keep it to shows that might have slipped under your radar: no show on this list attracts blockbuster viewings, even if some are hits on their own channels. You won't agree, necessarily, but there'll be at least one show here that you haven't seen, and it's worth hitting the Netflix or Hulus of the world, or seeking out a DVD boxset, when you're sick of blockbusters over the summer months. If nothing else, it's proof that there's as much giant talent finding homes in television as there is in the cinema. Check the list out after the jump.
10. "Bored to Death"
On paper, “Bored to Death” seems like a show that, even on specialty cable, would have a very limited appeal. The series, created by New York writer Jonathan Ames, centers on a version of himself (played by Jason Schwartzman) who is plagued with writer’s block and decides to become an amateur private investigator to make ends meet. Already, it sounds like the very kind of precious, insular, navel gazing and specifically New York-set show that would appeal only to New Yorker subscribers living on the Upper West Side. But alas, “Bored to Death” is hugely entertaining, both cleverly witty and broadly hilarious, with an allure that goes far beyond Ames’ Brooklyn area code.The set-up of the series has Ames solving a different mystery each week. He gets his clients from ads he places on Craigslist but he’s usually not alone in getting to the bottom of the case. Outside of “Parks and Recreation,” we can’t think of another comedy with as solid a supporting cast/ensemble as “Bored to Death.” Along for the ride is Zach Galifianakis, in what is arguably a performance even better than his non-sequitur driven 'Hangover' turns. He plays Ray, an aspiring comic book artist who is struggling in his relationship with his girlfriend Leah (Heather Burns). But the series MVP belongs solely to Ted Danson as George, the vain, pot-smoking editor of “Edition” magazine and Ames’ best friend. Danson has never been better, riffing on the persona of the New York intellectual that those outside the states can easily identify. A program based on the New York intelligentsia runs the risk of being completely alienating, but “Bored to Death” reveals them to be filled with the same insecurities as the rest of the us, and it creates generous amount of laughs. Running two seasons now, “Bored to Death” has attracted an impressive array of guest spots from folks like Kristen Wiig, Patton Oswalt, Olivia Thirlby, Oliver Platt, Kevin Bacon and even, memorably, Jim Jarmusch, and with good reason: it’s simply one of the best comedies on television. The first two seasons are already on DVD so instead of seeing the disappointing “The Hangover 2” this weekend, we’d recommend a “Bored to Death” marathon that will bring you up to speed when season three hits later this year.
Must-See Episode: "The Case of The Grievous Clerical Error" has all the show's great strengths in evidence, plus more full-on emotion than any other episode, with Danson's George being diagnosed with prostate cancer and forced to confront his mortality, while blending the storylines perfectly.