Instant Rec’s: Party Down

Netflix Instant is modern man’s greatest/underutilized invention — You literally could be watching Going Overboard right now! And without getting your DVD copy out of its case! — but there are so many choices it’s difficult to decide which film or TV show to watch. Insert this series, which makes your life a little easier by giving some thumbs up recommendations to the things I love. Because sometimes it’s hard to tell whether watching a Jean-Claude Van Damme “movie” will be worth the experience (Double Team: yes. Nowhere To Run: no). This week’s recommendation is the Starz series “Party Down.”

To keep with tradition of writing about shows that are on the cusp of cancellation, I recommend watching Party Down and soon. The show follows a Los Angeles catering team that couldn’t care less about serving its customers. They’d rather be pitching scripts and rehearsing movie lines. See, they’re all aspiring Hollywood-types. Kyle’s (Ryan Hansen) the heart-throb, Matthew McConaughey-striving leading man, Roman’s (Martin Starr) the heartless sci-fi writer, Casey’s (Lizzy Caplan) the dry-witted comedian, and Constance (Jane Lynch) is the veteran actor whose glory days spent shooting Dingleberries with Dom DeLouise have long passed. Everyone’s looking for another job and a way out of their hell-hole existence except for the show’s lead, Henry (Adam Scott). He had a promising acting career highlighted by a beer ad (“Are we having fun yet” is his terrifically quotable line from the gig), but has since given up acting to pursue a promising career as a bartender with the Party Down catering company. They’re all governed by Ron (Ken Marino) — new Ron actually, old Ron was a bit of a partier — the oafish boss with dreams of owning a Soup N’ Crackers franchise. (They’re known for their soups!) The team travels to different locales cateing a wide spectrum of events from a College Republican caucus to a porn awards after-party. Hijinks obviously ensue.

Steven Weber in "Celebrate Ricky Sargulesh."

Created by John Enbom, Rob Thomas (both worked on Veronica Mars), Paul Rudd (who’s star rose to high to play the lead) and Dan Etheridge, Party Down always seems fresh with its excellent cast and weekly guest stars. Steven Weber’s performance in “Celebrate Ricky Sargulesh” was the best acted role in the first season and the best episode the show has aired by a long shot. However, the show’s heart lies in the “no hang-ups while there are so totally hang-ups” relationship between Henry and Casey, and their sparring ideologies on life. Henry has tried acting and given up while Casey still wants her shot. The reason this show might get cancelled, though, is because Adam Scott’s star is rising not burnt out like his character’s — undoubtably from his role here — and he’s accepted a regular spot on Parks & Recreation. His deal allows only three appearances three Party Down next season. The show can work with high character turnover (Jane Lynch left for Glee; Ryan Hansen shot a pilot for NBC) because a catering company filled with aspiring writers and actors should have high turnover. But losing the one guy who has “retired” and is satisfied with being a bartender? I’m not sure how that will turn out.

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