Friday, April 03, 2009

Party Down, "Pepper McMasters Singles Seminar": Seniorlicious!

Quick spoilers for "Party Down" episode three coming up just as soon as I make a bong out of cheese...

Of the three episodes to date, "Pepper McMasters" featured the highest concentrated dose of Jane Lynch as Constance(*), which means your appreciation of it is likely going to depend entirely on how much you like Lynch. My buddy Fienberg thinks she's a less-is-more actress, and considered this the weakest of the three that were initially sent out for review. I've always dug her in parts both big and small (after Fred Willard's "Wha happen?" schtick, she's by far the funniest thing in "A Mighty Wind"), and so I got a kick out of watching Constance grapple with running into a relatively age-appropriate ex-boyfriend at a singles mixer for senior citizens.

(*) Was I the only one who came away from the pilot, where Constance was all over the female guests at the block party, assuming she was a lesbian? Rob Thomas tells me that "Constance is supposed to be very, very straight." Live and learn.

And it helped that said ex-boyfriend was played by the great Ed Begley Jr. (also an inner circle member of the Christopher Guest Players), and that the episode managed to maintain the farcical structure of the first two without having to again resort to Ron again seeming to violate a major social taboo. Instead, he got sucked into the elaborate double-fake, where the wheelchair guy getting up and walking turns out to be a plant by Pepper McMasters, who then takes advantage of Begley's unexpected collapse and recovery to claim that was also all part of the show.

Meanwhile, Thomas and company follow the "NewsRadio" model of not wasting much time on the obligatory Unresolved Sexual Tension by having Casey and Henry have sex in episode three, and they give Kyle a measure of revenge on Roman, who more or less deserves it, between the eyebrow-shaving incident from the pilot and the scene where he starts assigning a number value to Casey's body parts.

Good stuff. I have four more episodes on DVD (there are, I think, 10 total this season), and if I can ever find the time to watch them, I think I'll be a happy man.

What did everybody else think?

15 comments:

amysusanne said...

I think Constance might be a character I love to hate...the hate part coming in because she annoys the crap out of me and the love part coming in because Jane Lynch plays her so well. My favorite scene tonight was Henry and Constance in the bathroom reacting to Ron's stupid attempt to scare them straight. The whole "pot made his foot fall off" was the funniest part of the ep to me.

Matthew L said...

Was I the only one who came away from the pilot, where Constance was all over the female guests at the block party, assuming she was a lesbian? Rob Thomas tells me that "Constance is supposed to be very, very straight." Live and learn.

No, you weren't the only one to think that. Not only the pilot, but also the second episode where her reaction to the guy telling the gay joke seemed like she was taking it as a personal attack. But it could just be our knowledge of Jane Lynch's own life affecting how we perceive the character in the absence of any explicit information.

dez said...

I like Jane Lynch, but I also subscribe to Fienberg's less-is-more idea, but on the other hand, she was totally cracking me up tonight. As was the cheese bong, and the foot-killing pot, and the boner revenge. I'm glad I saw your review and gave it a chance!

qualler said...

This was the first ep I watched of the show (thank you Dish Network for free Starz for 3 months!) and I came away pretty impressed. Not that the show is terribly original, but it fills (along with Head Case) a breezy comedy void that is kind of lacking on Friday nights (The Soup notwithstanding). Jane Lynch is probably my favorite part of Best in Show and was in the "less is more" category there, so I do agree that her as the somewhat main character feels a little bit much. I do need more Ed Begley Jr in life overall, too. And what are the odds that Marilou Henner would be on two different shows on two consecutive nights (ER, then Party Down)?

spiderpig said...

Less is definitely more when it comes to Jane Lynch so this was my least favorite of the episodes so far. But at least they didn't have Marino embrassing himself in front of the client again.

And Constance is straight? What now? Did they decide to switch that up just so they could get Jane Lynch to hook up with Ed Begley? That's almost as bad as Thomas Dekker starting off as Claire's gay best friend who is suddenly straight on Heroes. Boo.

I'm not sure if I like Casey and Henry hooking up so soon, though. I'm not fan of shows that keep couple apary by setting up improbably obstacles , but I thought Casey's husband would be an obstacle for at least a bit longer. Very odd.

Oaktown Girl said...

I'm also watching this show on your recommendation. Saw the first episode last night, and episodes 2 and 3 today. Thumbs up for me, so far.

I was kind of unsure of Constance's sexual identity but not for the same reason you were. What you describe as Constance being "all over the female guests at the block party", I saw as simply a longtime struggling Hollywood actress trying to be the center of attention (or part of the center of attention) and desperate for camera time - even if it's only home-video-taping-of-a-neighborhood-party camera time. I was fine with her character playing a larger role in this episode, but I wouldn't want it to be an every week thing. I was also OK with Casey and Henry hooking up so soon, much better than artificially dragging it out. And what a jackass Roman is! He has the potential to be a very good "love to hate him" character. Hey, I suppose one could say the same thing about the "Roman" in Big Love!

Helene H. said...

I too thought for sure Constance was gay, but I loved it that she went through a list of about 10 guys before remembering who Begley was. Best line: "what happened to your face?"

Yemaya said...

I'm loving this show and I'm loving Jane Lynch - that punchline-less joke last week about the 60 year old actor friend who died had me laughing forever. But I pretty much like everyone in the cast as well as the guest stars. This is all gold really. I was really rooting for Casey and Henry to hook up - and I'm glad they didn't string it out, though I might change my mind, depending on where they go from here. Still I'm pretty confident going on the first three eps. Really looking forward to all the rest.

Q Ball said...

I hope people are watching this show because it is effortlessly funny and has an all around good cast. If Flight of the Conchords is indeed done for good, I hope this show can fill the cable comedy void.

Nilco Walker said...

That was one of the first pot smoking scenes I've seen on TV where it really seemed like they were smoking weed. Usually people get way too funny too soon, and this time the show really took it's time w/ the spaciness and forgetfulness. I bet the actors have some major experience with this.

qrter said...

Really enjoying this show. Very funny in an understated way.

Well, except for Ken Marino's Ron Donald - he's by far the weakest character, I'd say, comes too close to a David Brent/Michael Scott.

angela said...

I've seen the whole series (worked on it) and I think this episode is actually my favorite- mainly due to the stoney scene in the bathroom.
But I'm really glad Alan is blogging about it and that people are watching and loving it.
And if you're having problems catching it Netflix has it streaming...

Anthony Foglia said...

I guess Oaktown Girl and I are the only ones who didn't think Constance was gay.

I'm liking it, but not enough to buy Starz. (I live at home and my parents get it, but when I move out, I'll stop watching.)

Steve said...

I'm loving this show. I just watched the first three episodes and so far so good.

Adam Scott played stoned perfectly. THe entire cast is terrific and it's great seeing Martin Starr getting an involved role.

As much as I love Paul Rudd, I am a big Adam Scott fan and think the show is better with Scott. If anyone sees Step Brothers, the Sweet Child of Mine bit is one of the funniest scenes in any movie in a long time.

Mike F said...

Constance is actually the only character I really dislike so far in terms of comedy...there's something about her or her character's writing that is trying too hard to be what its trying to be...and to some extent, I feel the same way about the boss character.

But I really like all the other characters so far, and the series is funny...catching up on demand and have a few to go