Friday, April 23, 2010

Party Down, "Jackal Onassis Backstage Party": Really Roman

I wrote about the new season of "Party Down" in general in today's column. Some quick thoughts on the season two premiere coming up just as soon as you have a conversation I'm not going to participate in...

As I said in the column, the two real issues I had with the season is that Megan Mullally takes a while to fit in, and that Henry becoming team leader seemed like one of those ideas that seemed better as a season-ending cliffhanger rather than a season-starting status quo. TV shows like to do these "everything you know is wrong!" finales and worry about the consequences later, and the consequences tend to be 3-5 episodes spent/wasted on returning things to exactly the way they were before (because, after all, we liked things the way they were). Henry running the team - and being in a relationship with Uta just as Casey returns from her cruise ship gig - does have some promise that pays off in spots, but the balance of this episode felt off.

So because I didn't love the new arrangement, and because Mullally was largely off to the side, it was left to the Roman/Kyle duo to largely carry things. And, fortunately, Roman's complete and utter loathsomeness was up to the challenge, as he discovered that women preferred Kyle to him even when he was disguised as a popular, lady-killing Marilyn Manson-type rock star(*).

(*) Played by Jimmi Simpson, aka the lead McPoyle on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."

Nice cameo by Danny Woodburn (aka Mickey from "Seinfeld") as the waiter fired to make way for Casey's return, and while I prefer my Ron Donald to be uptight and oblivious, Ken Marino did have fun playing a drunk, self-destructive Ron.

This is definitely the weakest of the season's 10 episodes, and I know some of you who already streamed it on Starz's website said that means the rest of the season must be pretty great. And it is.

What did everybody else think?

27 comments:

Stephen said...

Anyone know when these are available on Netflix?

Anonymous said...

Episode 1 is available on Netflix now.

LA said...

I loved that even dressed as a rock star, Roman was *still* striking out with women.

If this is the low point, the rest of the season must be spectacular because I really liked this one.

Jeff W. said...

I've never watched It's Always Sunny, but I found Jimmi Simpson's quips in his prince-and-the-pauper role to be by far the funniest part of the episode. But the rest was still interesting, especially the Henry/Casey tension. If this is the weakest, I can't wait for the rest.

Matt Wilstein said...

Great first episode. Here are some good interviews with the cast (via Hollywood Reporter):
http://bit.ly/cpMBJ3

DB Cooper said...

Yeah, this was just wonderful. Which I know is an odd word. PD has a unique warm vibe for a comedy built around near-constant humiliation and awkwardness.

Community is close in that way, but has more jokes and is more absurd.

Zach said...

Big fan of this show, so glad to have it back.

Was hoping your opener was going to be "Just as soon as I get some leftover Chinese food and watch the Mentalist"

I have to concur with everyone else. If this is the weakest episode out of all of them, we're in for an awesome season.

Curious what happened with Jennifer Coolidge, they never addressed her character. Did her character get canned between this season and the last one in favor of Megan Mullaly? Wasn't that big a fan of her on the show, just wondering what that deal was.

Phobos said...

Dude is also "Lyle the Intern" on Letterman.

belinda said...

Wow, if this is the weakest of the season, I'm really, really looking forward to the rest of it.

I don't particularly like or dislike Lydia yet, but I think Mullaly has a better chance to fit in with the show than previous guest cater waiter Jennifer Coolidge (who I think is great otherwise, but whose comedic style don't mesh with this show at all - at least, not as a regular).

Oh, and Jimmi Simpson was pretty fantastic in this episode! I just love how much his character enjoyed being Dennis. And it doesn't hurt to see Roman dressed up like that.

Anonymous said...

Jimmi Simpson was awesome in this episode. I hope to see more of him in other things (BTW, Fred Savage directed this and as he directs a lot of the IASIP episodes, I figure that's how the McPoyle connection occurred). Also, I don't think you mentioned it in your article, Alan, but Party Down is also playing on the DirecTV 101 channel. Do they have a similar deal as with FNL where DTV is subsidizing some of the show?

rachelmed said...

So happy to have Party Down back!

I agree that the flow/chemistry felt a little off but I'm not about to complain. If this is the "worst" of the bunch I can't wait for the rest!

dez said...

Seeing Ron with longish hair was fun. He has got to ditch that "lady friend," though, heh.

pete said...

watched the fifth episode (the Steve Guttenberg episode) on the starz website and it was just completely awesome. so much fun watching this group of actors work together, going to be very sad to see them all go their separate ways next season.

Col Bat Guano said...

I thought it was fantastic. The Henry/Casey dynamic is still one of the best on TV and the Ryan/Roman rivalry is always gold.

D4P said...

Worst episode of the series, worse even than the Rick Fox ep. I'll have to watch it again to see if I missed anything.

BigTed said...

Am I the only one who gets Jimmi Simpson confused with Michael Weston? (Especially since, between the two of them, they've appeared on just about every TV show over the last couple of years.)

Anonymous said...

Absolutely loved the episode and this show. Easily my favorite comedy since Arrested Development.

chiwhistler said...

Just saw Jimmi Simpson last night in 'Date Night' as a corrupt cop, after watching this episode earlier in the day... which was weird because I'd never seen him before in anything.

srpad said...

Note to people with Comcast On Demand, there is a second episode available to watch ("Steve Guttenberg's Birthday")

So sad. My spell checker doesn't recognize Guttenberg. If I was typing this from 1985, it sure would have.

Anonymous said...

Falling behind on your pageview quotas, Matt?

Publius said...

No Wire shout out for Michael Kostroff?

Andrew said...

Weakest of the season? In that case this probably is a pretty good season coming up.

I actually thought this was a strong premiere if not best episode of the series so far. I thought it effectively reviewed everyone's personality type: Henry's Jim Halpert groundedness, Ron's energy with idiotic backdrop, Roman's all-talk but no substance arrogant demeanor, etc.

And yes, very surprised no Kostroff shout-out; always good to see 'The Wire' alums popping up...far fewer though than I'd like.

Stephen P. said...

You really think this is the weakest episode? I thought it was stronger than the second one. I was really looking forward to the return of J.K. Simmons and it let me down a little bit. Still a great ep though.

Jill said...

Anyone without Netflix or Starz who wants to watch the show can also catch this episode, the Steve Guttenberg episode and 3 from season one on Fancast- www.fancast.com/tv/Party-Down/

They are all awesome!

Marisa said...

BigTed, I got Jimmi Simpson and Michael Weston mixed up for ages. I think it was because, early on, I had an aversion to both of them based on the first parts I remember seeing them in - Weston was tremendously creepy on Six Feet Under and Simpson (appropriately) off-putting on It's Always Sunny. I think it helped me finally differentiate them when both actors appeared on House. I've warmed to both considerably - particularly notable with Weston, who used to make me practically jump out of my chair every time I saw him. As for Simpson, I agree with Jeff W. that his quips provided some of the biggest laughs.

Overall, I thought tonight's episode was a success - can't wait for the rest of the season!

Matter-Eater Lad said...

Alan, is there any chance of you doing an article about the many ways this show is available to watch? I don't think I can recall a series that aired on so many different platforms: Starz, Netflix, DirecTV, online...is this the future of TV?

ScottyG said...

"Dennis" was awesome with his "this is so real life" lines