I have a new television obsession: “Party Down” on Starz. I mentioned two weeks ago how “Netflix on Demand” and its super-convenience really bothered me, well, I’m a bit of a hypocrite. I heard it was about to be cancelled and decided to watch one episode, just to see what it was like. Pretty soon I was hooked.
If you haven’t watched the show, it revolves around six hapless actors cum caterers. Each episode focuses on one party/distasteful disaster. Each member of this wonderful ensemble represents a different LA washout. And I completely identify, in my own way, with each. Adam Scott’s Henry Pollard is the vaguely famous actor who gave up to pursue a “career” in catering. Martin Starr is Roman, my favorite, the screenwriter and “influential” blogger who can’t help but be disappointed each episode by idiotic bigwigs. Lizzy Caplan’s Casey treads the line between neurotic and insane, Ryan Hansen’s model Kyle works in “the handsome business” and Jane Lynch as Constance brings the crazy. Oh, and Ken Marino’s Ron Donald is the chief caterer whose life seems constantly careening out of control.
In a world of warmed-over comedy, Party Down provides silly and well-composed situational stuff. How else can you explain Ron Donald’s burning of the American flag before the California College Conservative Union Caucus in season one? You have to watch the episode, by the way. And the dialogue is punchy and funny—references fly as far afield as “Repo Man” and Edgar Allen Poe. Of course, the best lines go to den mom Lynch, who during one advice session offers, “You know what Gene Hackman said to me once? You should be committed.” Of course, her bewildering counsel to sweet-sixteener Taylor Stiltskin to seek out the populars and ditch her friends during her party took the cake for me.
I am worried about the future of this show. Adam Scott is leaving after season two to join “Parks and Recreation.” Jane Lynch left to pursue “Glee” (which is a great career choice, but not so good for the show). Megan Mullaly took over, and while she is funny, she could never replace Lynch, who is brilliant. It’s a small show and some of its better comedic moments can be overlooked on one viewing. I savor these quiet stretches, like the awkward snatches of dialogue that sound so cynical and bitter they could only be taken from real life.
There has to be an audience for this show. Party Downers, let’s get energized like the Gleeks. Let’s write letters, do publicity campaigns, karaoke Journey songs at a giant celebration of sorts for the program. Of course, we’ll probably end up in a corner serving condiments, making snarky comments to ourselves as the world goes by.