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?