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Bored to Death Recap: Menticide

Private-eye tropes don’t get hoarier than the cuckold who hires an investigator to peek from behind a conveniently louvered closet door to spy on the cheating spouse. Yet for novice detective Jonathan Ames, this is uncomfortable terrain — partly because the man hiring him is his friend George’s sworn enemy, GQ editor Richard Antrem, and partially because the man Prescilla Antrem is having an affair with is, of course, his friend George. There’s another reason, too: For all his preoccupation with sex and last week’s S&M dabblings, Jonathan’s a little bit of a prude.

After voicing reservations about monogamy, Stella confesses that she’s gotten back together with her ex-boyfriend, a struggling comedian named Warren (Josh Gad), and wants to have a sleepover with him and Jonathan, which, of course, triggers an avalanche of insecurities. (Not the least of which: When Stella tells him she thinks he and Warren have a lot in common, Jonathan’s afraid it’s because he’s also struggling.) Jonathan, of course, cowers before the alpha Warren, but plays along, even negotiating for spooning rights, but the slumber party, unsurprisingly, takes a turn for the less chaste, and Jonathan is mortified upon witnessing Warren’s elephant tusk.

It's no surprise that a threesome with the possessive, confident, well-endowed ex-boyfriend of a girl he considers the only good thing in his life might be the cause of a little inferiority complex. Panicked, he corners Ray and demands they compare penis sizes in the café bathroom. Meanwhile, Ray tries to win Leah back with a mix CD and a newly drawn comic book.

Speaking of penis trouble: George is confused to find that his longtime urologist has been replaced by Jessica Hecht — a lady! — who favors equal-opportunity stirrups in the examination room. This whole scene seemed like it was leading toward an inopportune-boner gag, but doesn’t. Kudos to the show for resisting that urge. If it’s possible to detect a moment of tenderness between a worried patient and the doctor charged with sticking a finger up his ass, this would be the place. George has to move to the Maritime Hotel because he’s got bedbugs, and Jonathan realizes Antrem is right about at least one thing: George’s breakfast envy is part of a larger problem of wanting what other people have.

Here’s something we never would have seen David Simon do: When Ray catches Leah cheating on him, the new boyfriend is the real Jonathan Ames, full-frontally nude except for a yarmulke.

No one ever necessarily cites Jason Schwartzman for his physical comedy, but take another look at the scene where he enters Antrem’s apartment and saves the vase he knocks over from crashing to the ground. That’s either the height of choreography or some sly CGI. Or, more likely, a weekend spent studying Peter Sellers movies.

Photo: Barry Wetcher/HBO