A review of tonight’s “Party Down” coming up just as soon as I sink into myself…
“If I’d known I’d be lied to, I wouldn’t have come to Hollywood!” -A.F. Gordon Theodore
Though the feel of each “Party Down” episode changes depending on the kind of party and the guest stars, there are certain constants about the show that remain true – chief among them that every team member’s dreams will be constantly dashed(*), usually with a huge dose of humiliation along the way.
(*) At least for as long as that actor doesn’t leave the series for another project.
Henry will never get Leonard Stiltskin to give him an audition, Ron will never find success as an entrepeneur, Kyle will never rise above all the other mimbos in town, etc. Yes, Casey has her small Apatow movie role, but if “Party Down” somehow returns and Lizzy Caplan is still a part of it, something will have to go wrong with that, as well.
The team members’ inevitable failures provides much of the show’s comedy, as well as its pathos, but there are times when it can feel predictable, and “Joel Munt’s Big Deal Party” was one of those times.
Now, I really liked the episode as a whole. It featured two fine guest turns by Paul Scheer(**) as smarmy, revenge-seeking sell-out Joel and by Dave “Gruber” Allen (always near and dear to me for playing Mr. Rosso on “Freaks and Geeks,” and nice to see Allen and Martin Starr share the screen together again) as iconic but sheltered sci-fi author A.F. Gordon Theodore. (Plus it had a much smaller guest role for Andre Royo, aka Bubbs from “The Wire,” and any Bubbles is good Bubbles, you know?) It had fun with Ron’s struggle to reassert his authority as team leader with his list of Ronald Donald Do’s and Don’ts (and the team’s confusion over which one RDD” referred to), and with the low-key rekindling of Henry and Casey’s relationship, and Henry’s attempt to disprove Casey’s “You’re kind of the lady, and I’m kind of the man” theory. And even though Lydia was once again largely off in her own world again, it was a funny world, as having Lydia accidentally use cocaine was a smart way for the show to embrace and exploit Megan Mullally’s zanier vibe.
(**) Scheer’s now the second “Human Giant” alum to guest star, after Rob Huebel was one of the community theater actors a few weeks back. All that leaves for a hypothetical third season is Aziz Ansari. Hmm… if only someone affiliated with “Party Down” had some sort of professional relationship with Aziz…
For that matter, I really enjoyed the other guys on the team invoking the Code in order to help Roman get re-revenge on Joel, as well as Martin Starr’s performance in the scene where Roman and Joel bonded over how they might have solved the problem of depicting the Mongus. We know from the Guttenberg episode that Roman is a hack, but we saw in that scene that he does genuinely enjoy the creative process and talking about his beloved “hard sci-fi.”
But because of the structure of the series, and of how Munt was depicted in earlier scenes, it was so obvious that he was going to steal Roman’s idea to get the movie back on and screw over his partner once again that I briefly began to hope they were making it too obvious so we’d instead get a punchline where Munt was being sincere and Roman refused to see it. Instead, the story went exactly where it seemed like it was going to go, and that predictability bogged down the episode’s final third.
On the other hand, can’t complain too much about an episode in which Kyle is asked if he can pop a lock and he instead pops and locks, can I?
What did everybody else think?