"It must be great not having hang-ups." -HenryLast week, some people asked why "Party Down" couldn't have been pitched to a broadcast network, where it might have found a larger audience. Aside from the higher level of executive interference with network shows (see the out-of-whack guest star-to-Trevor/Claire screentime ratio on Rob Thomas' "Cupid" remake), being on broadcast TV would make a wonderfully, hilariously filthy episode like tonight's impossible.
On broadcast (and probably on basic cable, except maybe FX), you don't have Casey reluctantly passing around cocktail franks with the beans attached, you don't have Kyle inspecting various porn starlets' surgical work, you don't have characters taking Ecstasy to get extra-amorous, and you sure as heck don't have an entire set piece around Ron's gigantic, flaccid male member(*).
(*) Survey time! Faker-looking prop penis: Ron's, or Dirk Diggler's at the end of "Boogie Nights"?
Ken Marino continues to do hysterical -- and, given the episode's subject matter, surprisingly subtle -- work, here with Ron's inner struggle over whether to whore himself out for the sake of his Soup R' Crackers, and particularly his growing shame as creepy porn magnate Guy Stanislaus(**) kept bringing people in to take a look at his trouser snake, and then to see it rise up.
(**) Played by Mather Zickel, whom you might know as Mike Powers from "Reno 911," or as the best man in "Rachel Getting Married."
And yet for all the R-rated (and above) humor that had me giggling, the episode's best moment had relatively mild content, as well as another (much briefer) inner struggle, as Roman kept himself from scoring with the porn actress because he just had to go on a rant about how fantasy and sci-fi are two different things, and how stupid fantasy is. Oddly, "CSI" had a similar scene in last night's sci-fi-themed episode, but I saw this one first, and it was better set up, not only by Roman's failures earlier in the episode, but everything in previous episodes about how Roman needs to define himself as intellectually superior to the people around him. A great gag, and he's now become such a tool that I didn't even feel bad that he missed his shot.
Lots of other funny stuff throughout the episode -- I particularly liked Adam Scott in the final scene taking the DVD ad copy way too literally -- as well as the first appearance by Ken Jeong (yet another member of the Apatow Family Players) as Ron's oft-discussed boss Mr. Duck, who turns out to be much less of a hard-ass than Ron keeps suggesting. (That, or he was too drunk/high/happy to be around porn actresses to care about Casey being on Ecstasy or any of the other screw-ups of the night.)
Still loving this show, and next week's episode (guest-starring the always-awesome J.K. Simmons) is even better.
What did everybody else think?