I sat down with the intention of watching the first episode of HBO's new comedy Bored to Death, and I ended up finishing the next two preview episodes before I left the couch - not because it was great, but because I was hopeful it would get better.

I sat down with the intention of watching the first episode of HBO's new comedy Bored to Death, and I ended up finishing the next two preview episodes before I left the couch - not because it was great, but because I was hopeful it would get better.

It did, luckily. Because this hyper-literate pseudo-noir is the kind of show you really want to like. Penned by literary hipster Jonathan Ames, it stars indie-movie favorite Jason Schwartzman and breakout comedy star Zach Galifianakis, and features hilarious cameos from people like Parker Posey, Kristen Wiig and Jim Jarmusch.

The show combines Woody Allen's love-letter treatment of New York City with Wes Anderson-style eccentric characters, and the result is only slightly less intelligent and charming than those guys' stuff.

Schwartzman plays a fictional version of Ames (he shares the novelist's name and profession), and the first episode starts with his girlfriend moving out of their apartment. Reeling from the breakup and bored with his writer-by-day gig, Jonathan posts a Craigslist ad offering up his services as a private detective (non-licensed).

The detective angle is the least successful part of the show, forcing our hero into silly scenarios in which he, say, retrieves a kid's skateboard from the neighborhood bullies.

Anyway, I'm glad I watched through to the third episode - it was the best by far, mostly because it shelved the detective angle in favor of the comedy goldmine of self-absorbed New Yorkers with no real responsibilities.