Friday, April 17, 2009

Party Down, "Sin Say Shun Awards Afterparty": Pay cable is for porn

Spoilers for tonight's "Party Down" coming up just as soon as I warn you, seriously, that this post may not be suitable for work, or church, or many other places where frank discussions and depictions of the adult film industry wouldn't be welcomed...
"It must be great not having hang-ups." -Henry
"Yeah." -Roman
Last 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?

19 comments:

Ben said...

Another funny episode. I also do not feel that there is anyone in the cast that is weighing the program down. That is a pretty impressive statement for any cast, let alone one on Starz and one without any big stars.

Steven Timberman said...

Once I got used to the notion that this is basically Veronica Mars' humorous bits dialled into 11 I've loved this show.

Makes me wonder though... why not just give us that famed fourth season already?

R.A. Porter said...

I think my favorite moment was when the girls in the breast "comparison" seemed to magically get their tops back on once Roman jumped the bar. His power to repel was so great, porn stars' clothing sealed itself up.

I was bugged the whole episode as I was trying to remember why I liked Mather Zickel so much. Then I remembered Underfunded. Someone should really get him his own show.

Kensington said...

I can't help but feel bad for Roman, even though he is an utter douchetool, because, deep down, I still see Bill Haverchuck when I look at him.

This show keeps getting better and better, and I love how they're confident enough to keep certain players in the background at times. Jane Lynch was barely in this at all, but the fact that Constance didn't know what ecstasy was provided probably my biggest laugh the whole episode.

I really hope this gets a second season order.ex

Anonymous said...

As the show started I turned to my wife and said "You know what they say when there's a gold painted penis in the first act". Little did I know.

amysusanne said...

I kind of thought this was the weakest of all the eps and yet it was still hilarious and I still loved it.

If nothing else, that little shuffle Henry did when he was with Casey in the bathroom and again at the end, when he was by himself, was awesome. Nevermind the fantastic performance by Ken Marino.

I also really enjoyed all of the interactions with depressing porn star with the monkey heart. She was great and even though Roman's was probably the best exchange (he's such a douche), I like how Henry talks to people without judgement. Sure, he judges *later*, but his conversations with the guests at the parties each week are high points for me. Maybe I'm just excited to finally have an Adam Scott character I really like after never warming to anything he's done in the past.

JenJen said...

"Party Down" is the first comedy since "Curb Your Enthusiasm" that I find myself looking forward to each week, and it just keeps getting better and better.

Juvenile as all hell, but please tell me I wasn't the only person with a DVR who paused and rewound to be sure I saw what i think I saw when Ron had "the big reveal." :-)

The porn star with a monkey-heart, and Henry just geeking out and shuffling at the end, left me howling!

Nevada Smith said...

This is that rarde animal-a show/sitcom that seems to appear fully formed. I like this show and the characters right out of the box. Next-I know this might be sacrilege-but there are people out here that are not in love with Judd Apatow and just because someone was in an Apatow project (how can anyone in comedy avoid him at this point in history) doesn't make them one of the Apatow crowd (at least I like to think so). I guess I am just so sick of the whole Apatow crowd and don't find them as funny as they think they are.

JenJen said...

In prior comment, "think" should have been "thought." Sorry!

And Alan, in response to your survey question, I gotta go with Ron here.

LAP said...

The character of Roman is so dead on that I can't help but love him. Dismissing a porn star based on the fact she miscategorized dragons as Sci-Fi is the perfect defining moment. The dude has got standards man...

Jesse said...

According to the credits, this episode was directed by Fred "Wonder Years" Savage. Really? If so: Wow. The guy's got some directing chops. Good work!

Alan Sepinwall said...

According to the credits, this episode was directed by Fred "Wonder Years" Savage. Really? If so: Wow. The guy's got some directing chops. Good work!

This was actually the third episode Savage has directed (including the pilot and the Young Republicans episode), and he did several more. He's also one of the more frequent "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" directors.

belinda said...

Didn't Savage direct some episodes of My Boys as well?

Still loving this show. Kind of wished it was on something a little more prominent than Starz, because it's probably my favourite new show of the tv year. The cast is well rounded and hilarious, and the tone of the show strikes a really good balance.

Oaktown Girl said...

Watching Roman blow his chances with the hot porn star was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Only Roman had the power to stop it, and it was clear that even he felt powerless to do so. Not that I felt bad for him because he really is such a total ass.

It was great acting, especially the moment where you see in his face he'd like to keep his damn mouth shut, but he knows there's just no way that he can. So he punches the gas as he drives his car over the cliff - true to himself the whole way down.

Brandy said...

If I didn't like somebody in one episode they tend to be my favorite in the next. Nobody has long off periods.

Brian said...

Meh. This show is consistently amusing and has a good cast, but it has rarely if ever made me laugh out loud. There's no way it deserves more attention than Better Off Ted.

Anonymous said...

Many posters are commenting on Roman's inability to stop himself as a insufferable know-it-all while trying to score with the porn star. To see it done years earlier (and better), see Steve Buscemi as Seymour in the "Blues" club in Ghost World.

dez said...

I can't help but feel bad for Roman, even though he is an utter douchetool, because, deep down, I still see Bill Haverchuck when I look at him.I can't believe Bill grew up to be a connisseur of pr0n. I feel so violated :-D

I think the fact this show is on Starz may give it a chance to go past one season since they don't have a lot of original programming. Oh, and I gotta go with Ron's dong as the faker of the two you mentioned, Alan.

qrter said...

Very funny episode (yet again), although I was disappointed Jane Lynch's character only got about a minute airtime and then she only appeared after about 10 minutes.

At first I thought she wouldn't be making an appearance at all.