A review of tonight’s “Party Down” coming up just as soon as I change my online dating profile…
“It was like all these little misunderstandings adding up to this tragic ending.” -Kyle
Early in “Not On Your Wife opening night,” Casey says that she hates farce, and I’m with her to a point. Certainly, there are few forms of comedy more tedious than bad farce. (I will even say I’d prefer an “According to Jim” repeat to some of those later “Frasier” door-slamming episodes that didn’t work.) Good farce, on the other hand? Tons of fun, as we saw with an episode where the waiters became characters in their own backstage continuation of the little community theater play.
This was pretty classic farce, with mistaken identities (Casey in the veil, the two Marguerites), mixed signals (Ron thinking Lydia was attracted to him), etc, that all built and built until everything came together with the conclusion to Henry and Casey’s argument about ladies’ karaoke night (and then again the post-credits scene with all the “He”s and “You”s). Only it was also a “Party Down” farce, which means Ron will be pepper-sprayed and then try to act cool while the spray and snot are dripping off his face, and that we’ll see Kyle in a gorilla mask having sex with a woman in a princess costume.
The episode was directed by Ken Marino’s old “The State” co-star David Wain, and his presence seemed to up the number of recognizable guest stars, which included fellow “State” alum Kerri Kenny and Rob Huebel from “Human Giant” as the two actors draping themselves over Roman(*), the ubiquitous Rachel Harris as the real, lesbian Marguerite, Jim Piddock from the Christopher Guest movies as the drunken theater company director, Jillian Armenante as the woman pining for Piddock, etc. The regular “Party Down” cast is so good that the series doesn’t usually need a ton of prominent guests, but an episode like this required, and benefited from, it.
(*) One missed opportunity, I thought, was that while Roman got progressively drunk with the two actors, we never saw him really giving into their talk of how the writer is revered in the theater, and perhaps talking himself into quitting movies to become a hard sci-fi playwright.
In addition to nailing the farce structure, I thought this episode also did right by some characters who haven’t been ideally served at all points this season. Even with the awkwardness of their kisses in the hot tub and under the veil, Henry and Casey were still able to operate as a comedy team, and Henry was able to return to being the detached, wry observer of calamity even while being team leader. And this was the first episode where Lydia actually felt like a part of the team instead of some daffy woman wandering around in a Party Down uniform.
What did everybody else think?