Friday, May 22, 2009

Party Down, "Stennheiser-Pong Wedding Reception": Talking comedy with Rob Thomas and John Enbom

As I've been promising for a couple of weeks, here's a combined transcript of interviews I did with "Party Down" producers Rob Thomas and John Enbom. Because of my schedule this week, I didn't have time to do a separate review of the season finale, featuring a long-awaited Veronica Mars/Dick Casablancas reunion, but feel free to discuss the episode here, along with general thoughts on this hilarious season.

The transcript (and I re-arranged things so that Rob and John's answers to the same question would be together) coming up just as soon as I direct you to the bathroom...

How happy are you with how the season played out?

Rob: Extremely happy. We went into it very very rushed, not knowing whether we had the time to write the scripts and be ready in time. Starz asked us when we could be ready to go if they ordered the series, we gave them a date, then we dickered on the terms of the deal and the budget for a couple of months, then they said, "Okay, go." "When we said two months ago we could have it ready then, we thought it meant we would be starting then." For John, it was a really speedy process, burning the candle at both ends. We're really pleased with the show in a first year. In a potential season two, we would have more time to write, we would know the actors better. All of this was written prior to knowing who would be in it. Constance is barely in the porn party episode, and I think had we known we had gotten Jane (Lynch) and seen what she was doing, we never would have done an episode where you wouldn't see her that little.

John: I'm really happy with it. Having worked enough in television to know how much chemistry, in the biggest regard, plays a part in the success of how things work. I think we got a great cast, great crew -- everybody got it in a way that really exceeded my expectations in how smoothly things would come along. For me, stepping in and trying to run things day to day, there was a large possibility of everything going bananas. So the fact that it didn't was good.

How did John wind up running the show?

John: Kind of by dint of being the one person who was free to do it. Basically, we got the offer from Starz at a point when Rob was finishing two pilots, and the "90210" thing was in some kind of play. So he and Dan Etheridge were in very over their heads, we were all excited to do it, but Rob didn't feel up to taking on the showrunner responsibilities of a fourth show. So Rob asked, "If this does happen, how would you feel wiggling out of your current writing job to write this?" Which I jumped at, I was on "The Sarah Connor Chronicles," and they very graciously allowed me to run off and do this. (Rob and Dan) were swamped doing "Cupid" at the time, so it really ended up with me as the only guy who could do it.

What's Jane's availability going to be for next season, given that she's now under contract to "Glee" and Fox?

Rob: We're planning on pleading our case with "Glee" and Fox. If there's a glimmer of hope, we want to pursue it. We love Jane, the person. We love Jane, the actress. Finding out she might not be able to return just as we get the pickup up, well, Alanis Morissette knows where we're coming from -- it's kinda like rain on your wedding day.

John: But not as "ironic" -- just a straight-up bummer.

The season ends with many of the characters either leaving Party Down or being in position where they could leave. Was that by design?

Rob: Yes. It was absolutely by design. We had everyone in a one year deal. So we had to prepare ourselves for the potential of losing any of our actors.

So how are you going to deal with bringing them all back together next season?

John: I think we're just going to use the natural passage of time, to just pick up the chips where they've fallen. Some will be easier than others. But I think we established Casey would be gone for six months. She can be back. It's always possible to figure out how somebody's big break turns into not their big break. We've been batting around ideas of what happens to Ron and his Soup 'R Crackers. Thinking up a way for Ron to screw something up doesn't seem that much of a stretch. One of the things that we're looking at is just to see how does Henry deal with this evolution of being promoted further into a world he never really wanted to be in. We might be looking at that, might be trying to deal with the idea that he's even more settled into this kind of life than he wanted to be.

Is there a character you feel you couldn't afford to do without?

Rob: Losing Henry in particular. He just feels like such the center of the show for us that it doesn't feel like it would be the same thing without him. He's the grounded character. He is our, meaning the viewer's, eyes into this world. He's the most relatable for the people who are entering the show. The brilliance of Adam Scott is that he is so damn funny in a straight man role. He represents the rest of us in this situation. He allows everyone to be bigger and more overtly funny.

It's funny that a bunch of my readers have said things like "This is the first time I've ever seen Adam Scott play someone likable." Because he's always cast as a douchebag.

Rob: He even played a douchebag in "Veronica Mars. Which is funny. I think there are people, and I do not mean this to be disparaging, there are people like Jay Mohr and Jeremy Piven where they just give you that vibe, "This guy's going to play someone a little venal." And for playing a lot of those characters, he doesn't have that quality. Not only doesn't he have it in real life, but it's very much something he has to put on.

John: I find it kind of funny. One of the reasons I thought he would be great in this role was because this is how I've known him, as kind of a nice, likable guy who has this slightly under the radar sardonic sense of humor. That's why I thought he would be great. He really knows and finds and nails that guy. I was actually kind of amused to find out that (douchebaggery) was his bread and butter. Hopefully, this will change that. He's a very good actor, and he's also very good at the sort of loose comedy side of things as well.

How different is Adam's version of Henry than the way Paul (Rudd) might have played it?

Rob: Adam plays a little dryer than Paul. It's tough to say. There has been an evolution in our heads. For five years, it was Paul's voice in our heads. Paul was sitting in the room working on it with us. Paul would say these lines out loud. It was even largely Paul's voice when the episodes were written. Now, of course, I hear Adam's voice in my head now when I think about it or write it. I think both of them can be subtle actors, but I think Adam is more inherently dry.

What's Paul's involvement been this season?

Rob: Paul had a hand in casting. All of us. We did pull a bunch of favors, as you can tell from watching the shows. Every week we'd pick the scripts and try to figure out, 'Who can we get for this?' And we do think it'll be much easier this year. We think we'll have to call in fewer favors. Even the people who did us favors want to come back if there can be any excuse. There's been talk of Enrico (Colantoni) divorcing his wife and we find him playing in a Top 40 cover band. JK Simmons e-mailed us and said, "You know, my daughter will turn 17 next year." But whwat we thought was funnier was to do the actual movie release party of the Edgar Allen Poe movie, and have Breckin Meyer come back and do more Matthew McConnaughey. Paul weighed in on all the scripts. The intention was for him to write one.

Is he going to be on the show at some point?

Rob: Paul is desperate to do the show, and I think it's a little odd for all of us that he hasn't. It's about a hole in his schedule and finding the right bit of business.

Who are the holdovers from the original guerrilla pilot you shot a few years ago?

John: Ken (Marino), and Jane, and Adam...

Adam played Henry even back then? I thought Paul did.

John: Not at that point. Way back when we had the show as a logline, I think Paul was at a point in his career where he said, "Well, doing an HBO series might be interesting." But by the time we shot it, it was Adam. I actually knew Adam as a friend of Paul's for a while. I didn't know his work as an actor, but I thought he was pretty good. And Ryan (Hansen) was in it. Those four guys crossed over, and then we got Martin (Starr) and Lizzy (Caplan).

How did Casey and Roman change from your original conception once you got those two?

John: Lizzy was a little younger than we had managed. Andrea Savage played the role in the little scrappy pilot we did. She's a little older and closer to Henry's age. We were originally interested in the idea of two people who were at the same point in their careers but had made different decisions about what to do. Lizzie being younger skewed that a little bit, we had her rejecting the normal life to stay and scrap. But she and Adam had a great chemistry, and you could see them clicking the way they did.

Martin, I think. It was funny: when we were casting for that role, we had seen some people, and we were looking around, we told our casting director, "We'd like a Martin Starr type," and they said, "How about Martin Starr?" And a week later, he had joined the cast. Obviously, the great thing about him is that he totally nails that role, it just gave us license to give him further rein. He does such a good job of both capturing the kind of bitter unfairness of that guy's worldview while also playing the kind of comic oblivion that allows him to say those things.

None of you who write for the show have any traditional comedy writing experience, right?

Rob: No, but we're all fans of comedy.

One of the things I really liked about the show was that it has this kind of classical farcical structure where everything just builds and builds, and then it all blows up in someone's face -- usually Ron's. And I might have expected that from more seasoned comedy writers.

Rob: I don't know that we ever used the term farce, or talked about the structure of farce, but we ended up building towards some big humiliation for Ron in the final act. And that became sort of a structure. It was interesting. There are a couple of things about the Ricky Gervais show "Extras." We had this show written before "Extras" came on. And I really adore that show, the Ian McKellen episode was my favorite episode of television the year it came out. They were doing something similar, building to some huge Andy Millman humiliation in that act. And year two when they gave him a catchphrase, we were all slapping ourselves in the head going, 'Oh, no!' Because it was, to a degree, our structure, and less so than "The Office." That was more our direct line. We may not be the writers who can or want to do set-up, punch, but that kind of comedy, we thought that's what speaks to us. We think we can do that. Let's take a stab at that.

How was it to be writing straight comedy?

Rob: I had the best time. It feels like the way I normally write, with the boundary on the comedy side expanded a bit further. I'm thinking in particular with how pleased I was with the pancake lady story (in the investor's dinner episode). That's something I couldn't quite do in "Veronica Mars," but the boundaries in "Party Down" allowed for an anecdotal story that doesn't move plot in any direction. Something that's so hard to do in normal network television. You always feel like you're having to drive a story point, this scene will link Part A to Part B, I don't get the opportunity to just tell a two-minute anecdote using pancakes and sex metaphors. It was liberating in that sense. And having written both comedy and drama, comedy's harder, because the fear of failure's so much stronger. When you write a scene and you see it cut together, and it doesn't make you laugh, it hurts in a way that failed drama doesn't. Failed drama, it's all, "that's not that compelling," but failed comedy just lays there. The investor dinner episode, there are a couple of moments, when they're having the conversation about Baretta's gun, and we cut inside the house, and there's about two minutes as they just go into that mansion that just feel flat and painful, and I go, 'Oh, just please...' Things I thought were funny on the page weren't funny. It hurts as I watch the episode. But honestly, the joy of seeing Jane Lynch take the "Old McDonald" scene -- when I wrote that, I thought, 'Oh god, I hope this works. Because that will be so ugly if it doesn't work.' But you're putting it in Jane Lynch's hand. I'm so oddly proud of myself when I watch that scene, because I'm watching comedy for comedy's sake, as opposed to "Veronica Mars," where I feel like I'm writing "Heathers."

What are some things you learned from the first season, in terms of things you felt worked and things that didn't?

John: I just don't want us to repeat ourselves. I think we did a pretty good job of arcing out the season, we kept things moving and not too bogged down in a kind of repetitive, all the sort of things you could see being said over and over again. To me, the thing is just to find a new direction to take these characters that doesn't take away what makes the show funny and poignant or whatever. That's why we're looking at new ways to put Henry and Ron and these guys into, not just episodic situations, but overall life situations that give us new material to work with. I think we want to be able to settle in on the combination of the pathos, comedy, farce that seems to really work for the show. One thing that we really liked was the degree to which every episode is a different party and yopu're plunging into a different world. It sounded like a good idea on paper and was easily pitchable, but we weren't sure we could give life to those things. And we did. We got some great guest casts, and it was a way to allow every episode to stand out, and keep pushing that as well.

Rob: There were moments of pretty big, broad comedy, funny for funny's sake, and then there's that dark, painful, this hurts comedy. One of the things we want to do is a better job of blending those things, making sure that there's a combination of those elements. Like Ron's 20th high school reunion -- that's a pretty dark episode. Which is fine, and I love a lot of that material. But I wish we had had some Kyle Bradway daffiness in it. I wish we had had more funny and light stuff to go hand in hand in that episode, so we didn't feel like such an onslaught of our misanthropic tendencies. I like both things, but I just want to make sure that we do a better job, episode by episode, that there are elements of each that they don't tip over. I think the antithesis of that episode is the mobster release party, which is just kind of a fun romp throughout. I think that episode probably pushes us as close to the comedy line. Every show has a boundary of "What universe are you operating in?" I think that takes us as far into the pure comedy range as you'll ever see us. I adore Stephen Weber's performance, but I don't think we can push that any further.

That episode had the vomit joke at the end, and even though I'm tired of so many on-screen vomit jokes in movies these days, I thought that was hilarious.

Rob: A big, huge debate in our universe here, and I'm not sure Fred Savage is happy about it to this day. Fred directed both the porn party episode and Ron's 20th reunion, and Fred was very disappointed that we ended up showing more of the fake penis in porn party. In his cut, you just saw a whisker of it. You just saw Ron's hand stuffing it back, he was worried how fake the prosthetic looked, thought it was funnier the less you showed. I respect that, he could be right. But the rest of us liked the one-second clip where you knew Casey saw the whole thing. But then what I thought was funny, "Okay, Fred, you think that the penis is overdoing it, but you gave us a bathtub of puke." I thought they both were funny, maybe that's my taste. You'll see these people who've worked in the business, very smart people discussing fake vomit and penises.

With the Roman/Kyle rivalry, I think a lot of series would be inclined to make Roman the likable one and Kyle the jerk, and it turned out the other way, for the most part.

Rob: It's the attempt that we consciously make, wanting to tip some storytelling devices on their heads. It's the reason we had Henry and Casey sleep together in episode three. We know that there are going to be enough "Office" comparisons, beyond the obvious that every show on television has delayed gratification with a couple at its center. Kyle is harmless and self-absorbed, and the tragedy of the rest of the crew is that he's the one likely to make it, but he's not a bad guy. The scene of him inviting Constance out to Okey Dog (in "Investor's Dinner"), I thought was a defining moment for him. It's a bit of soul in there. And Roman, he's not a very huggable character.

John: Some of that, I think, has to do with the nature of Ryan, for instance. One of the reasons we have always cast him in stuff is because he really is such a likable presence. That helps his character, it steers him a bit away from being the total cliche of vapid empty-headed actors, that he also has this sweetness to him. And there, again, came out of the natural chemistry between the two of them, especially matched up together as they often tend to be. That was deliberate: Roman matched up against Kyle is always going to lose. I think he's aware of it, and he finds it unfair. That's one of those things I liked about that relationship. There was this comic fatalism to the fact that, even when Roman was correct.

Roman gives you that great moment in the porn episode where he can't stop himself from ruining his shot with the actress who's into dragons.

Rob: Martin is so good in that scene. I've watched that scene just so many times. You can just watch the thought process. You know he knows he should shut his mouth, this girl told him her real name, she's into sci-fi, and he just can't help himself. It's one of my favorite moments.

When did the show start clicking for you?

John: I would probably say either the senior singles or sweet sixteen episodes. I think we just did good scripts where all the things kind of clicked. Tone-wise, they kept us very much in the realm we ended up feeling was the sweet spot for the show. It was the right balance of, there was some plotting, but it's not overly farcical or manic. We liked those episodes

Well, speaking of the level of plotting, it felt like there was just the right amount of continuing storylines, so if you were new to the show, you wouldn't be confused, but if you watched every one, there were small rewards about how, say, Henry and Casey's relationship was evolving.

John: I think that's another thing we pointedly tried to avoid was to make it overly serialized. The impulse is always there, you can sit down, rub your hands together and ask what the big picture is. We did our best to keep it very simple, and down to easily trackable little elements and focus on episodes. Some of that anxiety came from the "Veronica Mars" days, when there was always a tension between how convoluted you want your big picture plot to be, versus episode of the week stuff. But it also frees you up, comedy-wise, if you don't have to be servicing this big plot all the time. I liked being able to keep the carry-over stuff at such a level that you can either address it at the beginning of the episode, and everything else is the fun of what happens. It's enough that you can make a meal of it on its own, but it's never the thing where you're required to deal with. Having never sat down to do straight-up comedy, the biggest panics I ever had was, "There needs to be funny things happening as often as possible," and the more plot you have, the harder it becomes.

How has the experience been with Starz?

Rob: Unbelievably great. It's why I'm pitching them this Austin rock band drama I'm working on. I want to work with those guys. I want to be happy going to work. I want to do a show I'm proud of. Starz gives us notes, they have thoughts on the show, they have thoughts on the script, and we do a number of their notes, but the ones we disagree on that we don't want to do, we never hear from them again. There have maybe been 2 or 3 notes this year where we said we want to do it our way, and they said, "Really, we want you to reconsider this." The reason we have is they've been so genial and supportive. It's just nice doing a show for a network that clearly loves the show and are happy you're doing it with them. This year has taught me that I would be much happier, even if the number of viewers are in the hundreds of thousands, rather than millions, if I can be doing something I'm proud of with a supportive group of people. There are some quirks of working with a network that's new to original programming -- that everything you do is like setting precedent. It's not the factory. In a way that will slow you down, but God, I'll take this experience.

What ideas do you have for parties for next season?

Rob: There was this movie premiere that just happened where the caterers and the event planner got the dates mixed up, and they didn't have supplies. The catering team was literally running to whole foods and buying out there anything that could fit on a cracker, so this high class movie premiere was a disaster. Te really, other than the Edgar Allan Poe movie, don't have anything specific planned yet. I remember a pet wedding being discussed this year, and yet I'm so fearful that this is one that's funnier in the two-word pitch. I'm just not sure that Chriostopher Guest hasn't already nailed crazy dog owners.

I imagine you get a lot of pitches from people you meet.

Rob: It is the funniest thing, though. It's a great cocktail party thing. You can be talking with almost anyone, and they will have an idea for a "Party Down" episode. When we talk to people about the show, everyone gives us, "Oh, I was at this party where..." It's one of those things we're not worried about.

Were the guest roles written with specific people in mind, or did you write the role and then see which favor you could cash in to fill it?

John: I think it was mostly the latter. The only one we knew beforehand were Rico Colantoni in the pilot. Uda was eventually written for Kristen, but it wasn't from the beginning. When we first conceived that party idea and that character, I think it was originally supposed to be a guy. Kristen is good friends with Ryan Hansen, and she came and visited the set and said, "Can I do one?" And we said, "Are you serious?" And we switched it around.

We don't actually find out what Uda did to Ron to make him so afraid of her.

John: I think the idea was just that she was awful to him, in a way that you see he can't really deal with. Certainly, that's something we can explore in a season two. I'm not sure we've got the whole thing quite nailed down yet. If there were ever a prequel of the show, I'm sure we could be kind of amused with the idea of a younger Uda and a younger Ron, working side by side.

It sounds like your guest stars generally had a good time.

John: It was certainly the most fun set I've ever worked on. The actors were all very smart, funny guys who got along well. We never had the money to go over schedule, so it was not mind-crushingly hard work. Having that kind of semi-improvised looseness to it allowed people to step in and not feel like they were just coming in to punch the clock. And we love the idea that the people that did come in and do it just felt free to come in and do what they felt like. They not only delivered these great crazy performances, but also had a good time doing that. Steven Weber was so much fun. He said, "I usually play jerks in suits." I think that gives us a good rep on the street when it comes time to find some more. Certainly, we've gone pretty deep into the "Veronica Mars" rolodex. But I was surprised by how many people outside that world we got as well.

There's always Weevil for next season.

John: This is true. This has been discussed.


Paul Hanlin Jr said...

***** out of 4 stars. This is truly one of the 5 best comedies on TV right now, and I hope against hope Starz goes the full-court press route in telling the Emmy folks, this is a show you cannot do without in as many comedy series categories as possible. Everybody on the cast shined tonight. And Kristen Bell...I am in awe. Her movie career is revving up, so this may have been the last time we see her on a regular episode. If this was her TV series coda for now, what a way to go out. Frak any 30 Rock female guest star's turn this past season. KB buried them all with her performance tonight. Give her the Guest Comedy Actress Emmy now and be done with it. And hand trophies to Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan, and Martin Starr, while yer at it. You done gods damned good, Rob and John. All of Party Down. I will miss this show like I missed BSG in its half-year to year hiatuses. But we saw as close to comedic perfection here as it gets.

MattB said...

Thanks for an awesome season and an awesome ahow.

J-bone said...

Ok, with the season ending on that hilarious note it makes me wonder, is this the best first season of a comedy since Arrested Development? Extras was pretty good, but nothing else is coming to mind.

I thought Kristen Bell knocked it out of the park. She was channeling Maude Lebowski when hitting on Henry at the end, very funny stuff.

Can't wait for next season.

Anonymous said...

kristen bell was/is amazing. great ep

bsangs said...

We'd have never checked this out if not for you blogging about it Alan. We watched an episode on Directv's "The 101 Network" and loved it so much, we immediately put the entire series into our Netflix streaming queue. We watched all the episodes within a 36 hour period (sad, maybe? ;) ) and are already waiting for the second season.

If this were on HBO we'd be hearing about how great it is, because it is great. Nearly perfect actually. More laughs per minute than anything on TV.

Steve said...

My favorite new show.

Alan, thanks for the early reviews, as I wouldn't have checked it out otherwise. Also, great interview.

I love Paul Rudd, but Adam Scott leaves nothing wanting.

Lizzy Caplan is adorable.

Martin Starr and Ryan Hansen have incredible chemistry... Jim-Dwight level of chemistry.

Jane Lynch is a veteran who nails every role, and Jennifer Coolidge stepped into it last minute and did a great job as well.

Ken Marino was Ken Marino. That deer-in-headlights panic attack he does every episode is great to watch.

Kristin Bell... what else is there to say about her? She is phenomenal and has been marvelous since VM.

What a great season. I tell all my friends to watch it.

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

Great show, and I sure hope everyone comes back for the second season--they're a great ensemble. I'm going to have to go back and watch the first episodes again now that I've become more familiar with all of the characters. I seemed to enjoy the episodes more and more as the season went on, and I'm thinking it's just because I felt like I knew each one of them a little better each time. Thanks for the reviews, Alan.

Anita said...

Absolutely fantastic episode and KBell nailed it as usual! I still prefer Jane Lynch to Jennifer Coolidge though, so I hope FOX would be willing to play nice, if it's not impacting Glee at all!

I hope we get to see Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring & Enrico all come back in the second season but I'd absolutely *love* if Francis Capra joined Party Down as a cater waiter. The comic possibilities are endless, especially since most people assume he's Latino instead of Italian! Considering Francis actually a naturally funny guy, it would be perfect!

Mo Ryan said...

Fantastic interview(s), Alan. Thank you.

Can't wait for this show to come back. What a delightful, unforced yet wonderfully structured gem. And the chemistry of the cast is amazing.

Hoping Jane L can come back. From what Rob T said when I interviewed him a few weeks ago, Season 2 won't start filming until around the end of the year, some time in the last few months of the year. Given that Glee is in production right now, I can't see that that would take up Jane's time for the entire rest of 2009. In any case, I'm hoping Starz and Fox can work it out.

Given that, as Thomas and Enbom say, they really know the actors' strengths and the show has a rep as a fun place for guest stars, I'm expecting an even better time next year.

Kensington said...

Alan, in the comments of your last Cupid post you suggested that there would be relevant information about network meddling regarding the Cupid remake in this interview. Did I misread that, or did you decide to hold that over for another post?

Karl Ruben said...

Thank you so much for this interview, Alan - your showrunner talks are invaluable treats for the discerning scripted-TV-nerd.

I embarrass a bit too easily to be a wholehearted fan of the crescendoing-farce structure Party Down employs, but the excellent characters and the gobsmacking quality of the show's craft (acting, writing, directing, younameit) has kept me around for the season. And I'm really glad I managed to keep my embarrassquirming in check for the whole season, since the perfect storm that was last week's episode is surely one of the best comedic half-hours on TV ever.[/hyberbole]

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, in the comments of your last Cupid post you suggested that there would be relevant information about network meddling regarding the Cupid remake in this interview. Did I misread that, or did you decide to hold that over for another post?

Read between the lines in the quote about Rob's relationship with Starz.

Kensington said...

"Read between the lines in the quote about Rob's relationship with Starz."Yeah, I guess that probably does say it all, doesn't it?

Ah, well, I guess all that's left to do is wonder what might have happened if Starz had produced Cupid, or if Party Down had ended up at the mercy of meddling ABC execs. Probably less, and more, wacky music, respectively.

As to Party Down, what a wonderful finale to a truly impressive debut season. The best thing I can say is that it leaves me really excited about seeing a new season. I wonder if they'll be asked to do a longer season two? It seems to be the kind of show that could easily accommodate a longer run without running out of steam, and I'd love to see them do a good 13 if not 22 next time.

Also, whilst Jennifer Coolidge was an okay substitute for Jane Lynch (moreso last week), I really hope that Jane will be back for season two. The unique combination of reckless immaturity with oblivious naivete worked beautifully, and she provided what were probably my two favorite memories of the entire season, first when she didn't know what ecstasy was (in the porn episode) and then later reveling in Taylor Stiltskin's bad sweet sixteen behavior.

It's a wonderful series, and if you're reading this Rob Thomas, I'm sorry about Cupid, but thank you so much for Party Down!

Lizbeth said...

I liked the two episodes I watched online but do not have Starz. It's very frustrating. I wish they would put the other episodes online or on Hulu or iTunes, because this is definitely something I would watch regularly.

Kensington said...

Lizbeth, I don't have Starz, either, but I do have Netflix, and Netflix offers Party Down via its online streaming feature.

That's how I watched the season.

Paul Hanlin Jr said...

Now that the season is over, I think I'm more confident with these placements in terms of Emmy submission tapes, since this show deserves the mega-push for comedy series honors as any other contender.

Comedy Series: Willow Canyon Homeowners Association Party, Taylor Stiltskin Sweet 16, Stennheiser-Pong Wedding Reception

Adam Scott: Stennheiser-Pong Wedding Reception
Ken Marino: California College Conservative Union Caucus or James Rolf High School 20th Reunion

Lizzy Caplan: Brandix Corporate Retreat or Stennheiser-Pong Wedding Reception

Supporting Actor:
Ryan Hansen: Pepper McMasters Singles Seminar
Martin Starr: Brandix Corporate Retreat or Stennheiser-Pong Wedding Reception

Supporting Actress:
Jane Lynch: Celebrate Ricky Sargulesh

Guest Actor:
Enrico Colantoni, Willow Canyon Homeowners Association Party; J.K. Simmons, Taylor Stiltskin Sweet 16; Steven Weber, Celebrate Ricky Sargulesh

Guest Actress: Kristen Bell, Stennheiser-Pong Wedding Reception

Writing: Taylor Stiltskin Sweet 16, Stennheiser-Pong Wedding Reception, Celebrate Ricky Sargulesh

Directing: Willow Canyon Homeowners Association Party, Taylor Stiltskin Sweet 16, Stennheiser-Pong Wedding Reception

What say you? :)

Myles said...

Paul, I love me some Emmy talk, so I'll bite.

Acting choices all seem fine, although I would definitely have Marino use the High School reunion tape - the conservative episode felt too generic, the High School one is just so wonderfully personal in its tragic fall that it's hard not to empathize with the guy.

As for series, I can't imagine a scenario where I could justify leaving Celebrate Ricky Sargulesh off the episode submissions. Yes, it's the most broad comedy the show has ever done, but it so embodies the basic premise of the series (actors working cater waiter jobs) and the way they are both famous and clearly not famous, all topped off by Weber's stunning performance.

In reality, the show's only real Emmy shot exists in the writing/guest categories, with a long shot on Lynch - unless Starz pulls a Showtime-esque move and sends DVDs to academy members (unlikely for a non-HBO/Showtime cable network in this economic climate) I don't think the show itself is going to make its way onto that list. And even then, its guest stars are a bit too young for categories that are always dominated by geriatrics.

All of which to say that Party Down shall become the new critical "The Emmys are irrelevant because they ignored this show for Entourage" series, at least for me.

Steven Timberman said...

I always get the warm and fuzzies when a show lives up to my own hype. The only aspect that struck me as a bit odd was Ken Marino; I think they originally had him hem a bit too close to the Michael Scott line of comedy. Somehow though, I really truly gave a damn for his triumph at the end of this episode. It's been an amazing, hilarious and downright disturbing ride to the top.

I also think that there's something magical about channels like Starz and AMC becoming a refuge for creators who are too creative to actually work well with the "mainstream" networks.

Paul Hanlin Jr said...


I know Marino should submit the penultimate episode, but he was really, really funny in CCCUC, especially when he tried to make amends for destroying the old American flag they had by "distressing" another one. The scene where everybody looked at him as the flag went up in flames was LMFAO funny. I just wanted to point out that that was his funniest episode out of many.

b said...

I just watched the finale, and holy crap, was Kristen Bell (and George Takei, which was a really nice surprise for me!) a fun guest star. The show has such a great way of using their guest stars to the fullest without it being overdone or annoying.

Great interview! I look forward to next season, and am crossing my fingers that they can all work it out so Lynch (and everyone else in the main cast) can stay in the next season as well. (I kind of miss not having Constance around in the finale, even though Coolidge did a pretty good job (though somewhat one note)).

Paul Hanlin Jr said...

Here's what Starz is going to push for with PD, Emmy-wise:

Comedy Series

Actor: Adam Scott, Ken Marino

Supporting Actor : Ryan Hansen, Martin Starr

Supporting Actress: Lizzy Caplan, Jane Lynch

Guest Actor: Ed Begley, Jr., Enrico Colantoni, J.K. Simmons, Steven Weber

Guest Actress: Kristen Bell, Joey Lauren Adams, Marilu Henner

Don't know about Adams or Henner, as KB was surely their top guest actress all season. But Caplan's the lead actress on the show. Why relegate her to Supporting?

Source: (from the LA Times GoldDerby Emmy forum)

dez said...

I loved the way KB hit on Henry at the end. It was almost stereotypically Germanic in its efficiency, hee hee :-)

I hope the Emmy voters don't mind a lot of vomit....

Anonymous said...

The original Cupid's early cancellation was the best thing that could have happened to Rob Thomas, because it was one less show he had the chance to run into the ground. Veronica Mars deserved the axe after its drastic drop in quality, the Cupid redo was a joke to begin with, and his pilot for 90210 was somehow worse than what made it to air. To this day I still don't understand why so many online are so quick to give Rob Thomas such credit when he's proved to be a sprinter, not a marathon man. I was never much impressed with Party Down to begin with, but I can only imagine that the show will nosedive next year now that Thomas, with all of those projects that kept him busy last year blown, will probably be a greater presence.

He's incredibly overrated, much like Kristen Bell, but at least it's only among the 'internet elite' and certain bloggers who act as though they were privy to some great secret because they followed/follow his shows. I hope he does stay at Starz, though. He and his ilk have already burnt bridges with a couple of the big networks, so something low-grade like Starz is better suited for his "talents."

Robert Thomasson said...

Rob Thomas must have bullied someone in 3rd grade or something because somebody is holding a grudge.

Joking aside, there are many tv showrunners who are neither sprinters nor marathon runners but rather quadrepeligics (?). The man made a pretty good season one of VM, PD is solid comedy, Original flavor Cupid. That's enough of a resume.

debbie said...

I just watched all the PDs this weekend via Netflix. The show had me at the first episode when I saw Veronica Mars' dad, who I've thought is underrated since "Just Shoot Me." But I know now that was just the beginning of the show's awesomeness.
Two things:
1) Someone commented on Roman being unredeemable, which I disagree with. I like that he's such a totally sad, lonely and frustrated individual it makes him lash out at everybody and generally be a d*ck. He can't help himself.
2) I don't see how Ken Marino's character can be too much like Michael Scott. Ron was always a loser who now has a really simple dream to keep him straight. He's not a successful person (and probably won't ever be) in anyway. MS just seems to have a borderline personality.

Carrie said...

This is a tad bit off-topic, but ranting anonymous makes me question something. Do you think it was a help or a hindrance to Rob Thomas to produce such a perfect television season as Veronica Mars season one? All it set him up for was inevitable backlash for the lesser seasons two and three (which is hard to judge him on because of network meddling and other situations -- and which also hold up better on repeat viewings than I expected, at least in the smaller moments). Granted, I admit the Cupid remake didn't help his cause but I am loathe to think that just because he's going to be involved in Party Down more it's going to begin to suck. Perhaps I'm just a Thomas apologist like the ones anonymous mentioned in his post? Maybe.

Anyone else have thoughts on this? I'm probably too late to get a discussion started but I've noticed a lot of this backlash recently, especially in the light of Alan's "which shows would you end early" post and so many people picking Veronica Mars, and it got me wondering.