US TV boxsets: DVD round-up
Bored to Death, The Killing, Weeds and In Treatment reviewed
If you thought that Ted Danson had delivered career-remoulding performances as ‘himself’ in Curb Your Enthusiasm, you should check out the dazzle he brings to the first series of Bored to Death (Warner Home Video ●●●●). Jonathan Ames’ Brooklyn-set comedy stars Jason Schwartzman as a struggling writer called Jonathan Ames (see where this is going yet?) who stumbles upon a new career as a private detective.
Hindered by his own neuroses and addictions, he is initially hopeless but begins to grow into the beige mac and the PI role, aided and abetted by magazine publisher George (Danson, brilliant) and his slothful comics illustrator buddy Ray (Zach Galifianakas, imperious). It’s never quite as hilarious as it wants to be, but the lives of these three divergent losers are nevertheless compellingly watchable.
Compelling and watchable also fits the bill for America’s version of The Killing (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment ●●●) in which Sarah Lund becomes the similarly starch and woolly-attired Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) who investigates the beating and drowning of a 17-year-old girl amid a flood of red herrings. Was it the Muslim teacher? Maybe her dad’s creepy business partner? Could it have been the mayoral candidate still mourning his dead wife? What about the playboy billionaire with the penchant for young swimmers in his mansion? There will be few who favour this over the original Danish version but judging by the American forums, even the show’s fans were hacked off by the cliffhanger finale.
Quite how Weeds (Lions Gate Home Entertainment ●●) has made it to seven series is a mystery of Lord Lucan/Shergar proportions. The fifth is out now on DVD and features an array of irritating creations and appalling stereotypes amid dreadfully dull storylines. In the central role of the entrepreneurial marijuana mum, Mary-Louise Parker is mildly less annoying than she was in The West Wing. That’s not a recommendation.
Central casting has never been a problem with In Treatment (Warner Home Video ●●●●●). Gabriel Byrne smoulders and rages through a terrific second season as Dr Paul Weston who tries to come to terms with his own troubled history while fending off the demons of his patients (this time around he has an overweight young boy, a former lover and a burnt-out CEO on his couch).
It will be intriguing to see how the third series fares given that it’ll be the first batch which isn’t based directly on the original Israeli scripts for BeTipul. Or perhaps there’s a clue already there with the announcement that the show would only continue in a ‘different format’. Ditch Paul Weston and my sessions In Treatment will be over.