Creator: Jonathan Ames
Principal cast: Jason Schwartzman, Zach Galifianakis and Ted Danson
Release date: 20th June 2011 (DVD and Blu-Ray).
Frustrated writer Jonathan Ames (Schwartzman) struggles for inspiration whilst progressing with his second novel. Inspired by the classic thrillers of Raymond Chandler, Ames decides to declare himself an unlicensed private detective for hire via an ad in the personal columns.
But what begins as a folly turns into a moonlighting obsession as his exploits bring him into contact with missing persons, blackmailers, skateboard thieves and even Russian mobsters.
Events become even more complex as Ames’ friends gradually become part of the obsession and thus escape the responsibilities of their increasingly complex adult lives.
Sky Atlantic is definitely the place to be at present with it’s evening broadcast of new dramas which kick started earlier this year with the excellent Boardwalk Empire and has continued recently with Game of Thrones and this little gem of a series.
The first season of the quirky detective comedy contains all the elements that you would associate with a Wes Anderson movie (oddball and dysfunctional) but there’s also a hint of Woody Allen in there as Ames’ and his comrades not only struggle with adult life and it’s responsibilities but find themselves increasingly in almost surreal and dangerous circumstances via their amateur detective work.
Schwartzman (Rushmore, The Darjeeling Limited) adds a mixture of frustration and naivety to the character of Jonathan Ames (the character named after the shows’ creator), whose principal purpose in each escapade is simply to fall into some quite bizarre situations.
Galifianakis (The Hangover, Due Date) is on form throughout the series, providing a grouchy element to Ames’ friend Ray (a disillusioned comic book artist, married to an older woman and obsessed with sex and marijuana).
Ted Danson virtually steals every scene throughout all eight episodes as George, Ames’ magazine editing boss and self styled ladies man (also with a love of illegal substances and some strange views on sex).
Danson seems to be enjoying every minute and it’s easily the most captivating the actor has been since his days behind the Cheers bar.
Adventures involving a call girl blackmailer, a lost movie script, stolen sperm and a missing cabaret singer all ensure. The comedy is kept sharp throughout, the running times short and the interplay tight between the three protagonists, whilst the ever changing supporting cast provide a rogues gallery of misfits from New York’s underbelly.
If you missed Season 1 of Ames’ quirky, sophisticated and very daft comedy, then now is the time to acquaint yourself with three very frustrated and off kilter individuals prior to Season 2. Recommended.