Thursday, July 19, 2012

Party Down: Catering Comical Catastrophes

Party Down is another entry in the list of TV shows that were brilliant but cancelled. The show premiered on Starz in 2009 and was shut down after two seasons, leaving us with twenty memorable episodes of comic mayhem.

The show follows the employees of Party Down, a Los Angeles catering company. The team leader is Ron Donald (Ken Marino), the only one who actually wants a career in the food service industry and is saving up money to open a franchise restaurant called Soup 'R Crackers. Unfortunately, his enthusiasm and desire for perfect service are continually undermined by his crew, a bunch of actors, writers, and comedians, who are all grumpily paying their dues in between auditions to find their big Hollywood break. There's sarcastic aspiring stand-up comedian Casey (Lizzy Caplan), "hard sci-fi" writer Roman (Martin Starr, all grown up from Freaks & Geeks), blond and predictably dumb actor Kyle (Ryan Hansen, from Veronica Mars), and failed actor Henry (Adam Scott, of Parks & Recreation fame). In addition, the first season featured Jane Lynch, but after she left to do Glee, her place was gleefully filled by Megan Mullaly, who plays Lydia, a loopy, ever-optimistic stage mom who is trying to get her daughter Escapade into the Hollywood child star line-up. Additionally, one of the show's creators is Rob Thomas, who started this show after Veronica Mars was cancelled. As a result, the show features guest stars straight from the Veronica Mars cast, which is rather delightful if you are looking for all those familiar faces again.

Despite each season being only ten episodes long, they follow complete story arcs for every character and give you a complete sense of these people's hopes, dreams, failures, and foibles. Every episode takes place in a completely different setting depending on what event they're catering that week. So one week they're trying to host a successful sweet sixteen, and then next week is an orgy. The crew is forever getting entangled with a bizarre roster of party hosts and guests, all of whom lead you to believe that Los Angeles is filled with the most neurotic and insane people in the world. Regardless of setting though, the main characters continue to be hilariously oblivious and self-centered, carrying out personal vendettas against the guests or calling up their agents with the hopes of finding a dream job. Hollywood certainly isn't all glitz and glamour.

Party Down features a cast that would be the envy of any other comedy series, and writers that are well-versed in the art of crafting witty dialogue and ridiculous situations that keep you laughing for 30 minutes straight. So if you want an award-worthy comedy series that requires a minimal time commitment, let Party Down cater to you.

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