22 March 2009
Party Down, the new comedy on Starz from Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas and universally beloved film actor Paul Rudd, is the type of deadpan humor we’ve grown to expect in the age of The Office but with an inherently absurdist bend. It follows the exploits of Party Down, a catering company in the Los Angeles area, and therefore every episode will have our main cast of caterers (almost all of whom harbor ambitions of entertainment-industry greatness) interacting with a new bunch of clients.
The cast is a veritable whose-who of familiar faces, which fits. Just as the people on whom they are waiting find themselves wondering “where do I know that guy from?” we in the audience know these actors as slightly-more-successful versions of their silver screen compatriots. In the lead, we have Adam Scott, whose guest starred on nearly every television show known to man, including the main casting pool for Party Down, Veronica Mars (where he played the teacher who it turns out did have sexual relations with that student in the episode “Mars Versus Mars”). Scott’s character is a broken down actor, haunted by the constant reprieve of “Are we having fun yet?” which was apparently his catch phrase in a string of commercials. He’s also our anchor within an absurd world, and a fairly nice guy to boot.
To fill out the cast, we have the erst-while Vinny Van Lowe, Ken Marino, as the completely irony free boss hell bent on one day owning a shrimp franchise. We also have Dick Casablancas from Veronica Mars (real name: Ryan Hanson), Bill Haverchuck from Freaks and Geeks (Martin Starr), the not-a-lesbian chick from Mean Girls (Lizzy Caplan), and Jane Lynch (from pretty much everything funny, from Role Models straight on through to a guest starring role on Veronica Mars as the teacher who fights against getting the election results overturned in the episode “Return of the Kane”). On top of that, every episode is going to have guest spots from semi-big names, especially to fans of Veronica Mars, like Jason Dohring (Logan, but if I have to tell you that you probably don’t care) and Alona Tal (Meg), as well as the biggest Veronica Mars name of them all, Kristen Bell. This episode featured Enrico Colantoni (Keith Mars), answering the immortal question of what Keith Mars looks like naked. As the old saying goes, some questions are better off never answered.
The show is a funny, poignant look on life between the precipices of despair and success, and is filled with wit and surprisingly bawdy humor. Although the show airs on Starz, you can catch episodes on Netflix.com in streaming video.