Friday, April 24, 2009

Party Down, "Taylor Stiltskin Sweet Sixteen Party": Alright, alright, alright!

Brief spoilers for tonight's "Party Down" coming up just as soon as I fill my fist with mac 'n cheese...
"You still like me, right?" -Henry
"I do... but, I probably would like you more if you were helping Edgar Allan Poe fight vampires." -Casey
At the moment, "Party Down" is clicking so well that any analysis feels besides the point. This was just an extremely funny episode that made played to the strengths of the entire cast:

• After weeks of playing Henry as a guy who has given up on his dream and is just waiting for a new one, Adam Scott got to play a slightly more hopeful Henry, only to have him crushed again when Leonard Stiltskin recognized him as the "Are we having fun yet?" guy.

• Ken Marino got to do a clever variation of Stoned Guy, as there was a dark and desperate undercurrent: having cleaned up his life for the sake of his career, Ron had to let himself get high to be close enough to pitch Soup R' Crackers to the rapper, and under the influence of pot his knack for saying the wrong thing became worse than ever.

• Lizzie Caplan and Jane Lynch got to play off each other as the most clued-in and most clueless members of the ensemble as Casey and Constance battled for young Taylor's soul, with Casey briefly appearing to win the John Hughes battle when Taylor re-embraced her old loser friends, but Constance ultimately triumphing when the popular kids came to take Taylor away from reality. A brutal, and brilliant, punchline.

• Ryan Hansen and Martin Starr didn't have quite as much to do, but Hansen got to play physical comedy as Kyle tried to score with Leonard's wife without actually kissing her, and Starr got to add new layers of creepy to Roman with the way he tried to hit on one of the 16-year-old party guests, and with the indignant tone to his voice as he said, "I have a prestigious blog, sir!"

Beyond that, we got some terrific guest performances. JK Simmons made Leonard's completely artless swearing sound pretty damned artful, Breckin Meyer did one of the better Matthew McConnaughey impressions I've heard, and Kevin Hart made something new out of the smarter-than-you-expect rapper archetype. Even Joey Adams was fine in the first role I've seen her in since the "Veronica Mars" guest appearance that no doubt led to this one.

Again, I don't have a lot to say, except the most important thing of all for a comedy: "Taylor Stiltskin Sweet Sixteen Party" made me laugh -- a lot.

What did everybody else think? And did the Valhalla Catering uniforms our team had to wear as last-minute replacements look more or less dorky than the traditional pink bow tie uniforms?

22 comments:

dead souls said...

I couldn't agree more with your review. This show is great and seems to outdo itself nearly every week.

Carmichael Harold said...

I laughed out loud at this episode more than anything I've seen in a long time. I kind of want to take it out behind the middle school and get it pregnant.

wcdixon said...

Agreed...very funny...liking this series a lot, but you're showing a lot of love for the actors - who wrote and directed the episode?

BH said...

JK Simmons is comedy gold, simple as that. You can tell he is a veteran of the Coen brothers movies because he curses better than almost anybody else around...

I'm not sure if Netflix always does this, but this episode was available first thing Friday morning.

Anonymous said...

Directorial duties seem to have been split between Fred Savage (Yes, that Fred Savage) and Bryan Gordon. Gordon did this episode. Don't know who wrote it.

"Hold out for Tristan!"

Patrick Wynne said...

The thought of white folks going to a restaurant named "Super Angry Black Man" made me laugh more than anything else this week. Kevin Hart and Fatso Fasano were hilarious in that whole scene. And their reactions to JK Simmons' threats at the end were great.

This show keeps getting better and better and I'm loving it.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else get a sort of David Byrne vibe from Casey is the over-sized white suit jacket?

Just a funny, funny show. Not worth paying extra money for Starz to see it, especially when there are less scrupulous ways of seeing it for free, but I do get occassional pangs of dissapointment on Friday's when I realize I will have to wait a while to see it.

And JK Simmons is just flippin' awesome. When is he going to graduate from supporting player? They guy can do anything.

Alan Sepinwall said...

John Enbom, who's been the primary showrunner, wrote the episode.

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

I loved it as well. And JK Simmons was amazingly good. His stream of nonstop cursing had me laughing out loud. I also agree that Lynch and Caplan worked off of each other really well.

olucy said...

Late to the party -- I just discovered this on Netflix and am now all caught up.

Funny, funny show. Maybe my new favorite comedy.

Chris said...

I am blown away by how good this show is. Great jokes, great characters, great acting, great chemistry - How many shows have ever come out his strong out of the blocks? Arrested Development? The jokes aren't as fast-paced as AD, but Party Down is full-speed from the jump.

I mean, compare the first 6 episodes here to the first 6 of The Office or 30 Rock - this blows them away.

amysusanne said...

Every single one of Jane Lynch's facial expressions was genius. The look at the end when Taylor ditched her friends for the douche squad was the physical representation of the word "squee". And it was awesome.

spiderpig said...

Another funny episode! This show really knows it's characters and they just keep getting better and better.

One thing I don't like is the recurring theme of Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football. It seems like every episode one character gets close to getting what they've been dreaming of (investment money for a franchise, a big role in a film, etc) only to have it taken away at the end. I realize there would be no show if all of these aspiring actors got their dream jobs but how many times can they go the well of disappointment. I get that they are supposed to be a ragtag bunch of "losers" in a crappy catering job but it's getting a little pathetic.

Oaktown Girl said...

Did anyone else get a sort of David Byrne vibe from Casey is the over-sized white suit jacket?Didn't think about it at the time, but sure, why not?

Really enjoyed this episode. Loved the hilarious stream of expletives from Simmons*, and how Constance was so, well, delusionally Constance, and yet revealing a whole new layer of her psyche (and childhood).

It was very well done how for a minute Roman actually thought he was cool enough with the high schoolers that the blond girl would be receptive to his advances and not totally creeped out by them.

*Did this remind anyone else how much they missed Deadwood?

soap_oprah said...

I agree with you on pratically everything, except on the Taylor ditching the party. That was a f***ing spoiled brat (as Mr. Simmons so elegantly put it) thing to do, but in no way a sweet sixteen party on a boat is closer to reality than hanging out with her friends, as superficial as they are.

Kensington said...

Jane Lynch made this episode, and I love the still accompanying this post so much I made it my desktop background. The look of delusional abandon on Constance's face is priceless.

I am also continuing to appreciate how essentially irredeemable Roman is, and it is kind of an interesting change of pace that the nerd is pretty much a scumbag whilst the pretty boy is comparatively decent.

I didn't laugh as much at this episode as I did at previous ones, but what's really nice is how the characterizations are already deepening enough that the show doesn't always need rapid fire punchlines to be so enjoyable.

amysa said...

@soap_oprah...
The thing is, the entire party on the boat was for the douchey friends she left with, so to wind up enjoying that moment with her old, real friends *was* reality. The location was insignificant at that point. Metaphorically, once the other crew showed up and she left with them, she was leaving with the boat. Reality was left behind.

Andrew said...

Loved the look on Constance's face at the end. As the audience, we either expect or for rooting for the kid to prefer to continue to have fun with the loser friends who showed up to the party in the first place (as did Henry and Casey). But to have the kid do the mean girl thing was, well, mean, except for Constance's look of pure glee, which made the beat hilarious.

Great work all around, putting the characters into funny situations.

JenJen said...

Speaking of the "Party Down" uniforms this week, I loved Henry's line: "We look like the Gay Secret Service."

And the cast dancing in 80's John Hughes abandon just made me smile.

How is it that each show is funnier than the last? Loving it!

Steve Wirzba said...

This is currently the show I am most excited about. Not quite the funniest (I would give that nod to 30 Rock, and then the current streak The Office has been on), but theres something about a show that is both really good AND still has that new-show smell that just really gets you stoked.

dez said...

The thought of white folks going to a restaurant named "Super Angry Black Man" made me laugh more than anything else this week. I was laughing so hard at that that I didn't even see Ron's faux pas coming, which made it even funnier. Apparently, the rappers weren't entirely upset, since they still seemed pretty friendly with him as they left the boat.

JK Simmons can do no f***in' wrong. Not sure if this was a Feech LaManna shout-out or not, but I loved when he gave his last "Eff you, you effin'...eff" (especially loved that he couldn't think of anything to end with, and thus resorted to the F-word, which had lost all its power because of his overuse of it).

Anonymous said...

Great stuff. I think this is my new favorite show. So nice to have a semi-Veronica Mars reunion.