Footnotes to ‘Bored to Death’: Season 3, Episode 7

Although we enjoy Bored to Death’s hilarious story lines and overarching themes, we get at least as much pleasure out of its details — the literary references, the in-jokes, the real, New York City locations. So, this season, we’re publishing a weekly series of Bored to Death footnotes. Follow along with us after the jump as we go minute by minute through episode seven, shouting out places we recognize and explaining some of the show’s oddball allusions. Feel free to point out anything we may have missed in the comments.

1:15 — Hey there, Isla Fisher!

1:24 — “Most detectives in literature have whiskey, but I tend to black out and throw up on the brown stuff,” Jonathan tells Rose when she questions him about his penchant for white wine. He may be referring to Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, the detective best known for The Big Sleep, or Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon sleuth, Sam Spade — both of whom are well-documented fans of “the brown stuff.”

3:58 — To help Ray with his back spasms, George gives him a copy of Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection, by John E. Sarno. Yes, it’s a real book, and Sarno is a Professor of Clinical Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU. He was the first to diagnose the psychosomatic illness tension myositis syndrome. Sarno has treated many celebrities; Howard Stern was so grateful for his help that he dedicated part of his first book to the doctor.

4:40 — In a special treat for Get a Life Fans, here’s Chris Elliott as Riker’s inmate Fishman!


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6:08 — Viewers who are familiar with old-school comedy might have raised their eyebrows when Fishman directed Jonathan and Rose to Susquehanna Hats on Bagel Street in Coney Island. “Bagel Street,” you see, is an Abbott and Costello routine that involves the Susquehanna Hat Company. You can watch it here. For the shoot, Bored to Death brought the faux business to Coney’s oldest building, at Surf Ave. and Jones Walk. Harrison Bergeron, meanwhile, is the eponymous protagonist of a Kurt Vonnegut short story.

8:03 — In their search for Bergeron in Coney Island, Jonathan and Rose are walking down Surf Avenue, a street that runs parallel to the boardwalk.

8:41 — Rose mentions that she’s getting her PhD in Library Science from Columbia. In fact, the university doesn’t currently offer any degrees, graduate or undergraduate, in the field — despite the fact that it was home to America’s first Library Science program, the School of Library Economy, founded by Melvil Dewey in 1887. Eventually evolving into the School of Library Service, it closed in 1993.

12:34 — Jonathan and Rose are riding Coney Island’s Wonder Wheel, a giant, 150-foot-tall ferris wheel that’s been operating since 1920.

16:48 — George eats a pot cookie and is immediately super-stoned. In real life, the Internet consensus seems to be that it takes about half an hour for marijuana to kick in when taken orally.

18:19 — The gentleman who precedes George onstage is singing “Mr. Mistoffelees” from Cats.

20:51 —  George is singing “The Impossible Dream” from the 1965 Don Quixote musical Man of La Mancha.

24:27 — Although Bored to Death refers to it as the Brooklyn Aquarium, Jonathan meets his (shudder!) real father at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island. There don’t seem to be any half-price evening hours, but Fridays after 3pm are pay-what-you-want.

24:45 — Here’s that Prayer of St. Francis!

26:00 — And finally, that absolutely perfect song playing over the credits is The Magnetic Fields’ “Strange Powers.” Watch the Coney Island-shot music video above.