"Be like a movie. You can score one for the losers." -DonnieFirst things first: in case you missed it, today's column was another look at "Party Down," including news about the show being renewed, and a few quotes from Rob Thomas and showrunner John Enbom. I had hoped to have one or both of those interviews properly transcribed to run tonight, but time ran out on me, so look for a combination of both of those next week.
Whenever I do one of those columns where I check back in on a show I had reviewed earlier in the season, I try to make sure it's tied to an episode of the show that I feel exemplifies the opinion expressed in that column. (A few weeks ago, I was going to write a "Grey's Anatomy has gotten better" piece, but then I didn't like the episodes ABC made available for advance review, so I wrote something else.) I would have been happy running that column alongside last week's hilarious "Celebrate Rick Sargulesh," or next week's finale with Kristen Bell, but it goes just as well with the hilarious, albeit very painful, "James Rolf High School Twentieth Reunion," which is the Ron humiliation episode to end all Ron humiliation episodes.
The idea that Ron would think being a cater-waiter at his own reunion, even a "team leader," would impress all his old classmates was a brilliant example of something so sad it's funny (or vice versa), and Ken Marino did a great job throughout of portraying Ron's oblivious hopefulness. Ron is just as delusional as Constance(*) or Roman, though his dreams are much smaller. In his mind, he is an impressive leader of men now, and he does have a shot at Melinda, and everything's going to work out perfectly, just like the movie his old buddy Donnie suggests Ron's starring in. And while I think there have been far, far too many onscreen vomit jokes in the years since "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," I thought the one at the end here was hilarious, both because it was perfectly set up earlier with the reference to how Ron got the "Bluto" nickname and all of Ron's waiting for the right moment with Melinda, and because Ron was pleading for her to call 911 to save his life, even as he kept on puking.
(*) As mentioned in the column, Jane Lynch wasn't in this episode or the finale because she got cast in the "Glee" pilot -- which in turn may keep her from joining everybody else for "Party Down" season two. These episodes were both written with Constance present and at the last minute had to be rejiggered to feature Jennifer Coolidge (who played Jane Lynch's lover in "Best In Show") as Constance's longtime roommate, Bobbi St. Brown. Coolidge, as you would expect from someone of her background, fits right in, though she gets more to do next week. And Constance is written off, for now, anyway, as having gone away with Zoltan, the "Dingleberries"-loving gangster from last week.
This was also a great Casey episode, as she did everything in her power to keep Henry from quitting to move back in with his parents. Lizzy Caplan's delight at meeting Donnie and realizing that she had just found the perfect object lesson for Henry was very nicely-played.
More fine guest casting this episode, not just with Coolidge, but Joe Lo Truglio (one of Marino's old buddies from The State) perfectly cast as Donnie, Molly Parker as Melinda and Kyle Bornheimer (from "Worst Week") as popular Mark Defino. If this is the caliber of people they can get when they're just calling in favors for a show no one's even seen, I look forward to seeing who turns up next season now that word of mouth is spreading a little.
What did everybody else think?