It’s a shame as it means we miss out on a lot because of it not being advertised, on an unwatched channel or not even on TV here at all. The latter is what happened to Party Down – it never made it to our TVs.
It was by pure chance that I found about Party Down through browsing Tumblr and seeing quotations or people bringing up how much they love it. It lead to a curiosity and something that had to be looked into and it is something that I far from regret. It has everything a comedy should: wit, lovable and unusual characters, storylines filled with misfortune, running jokes and an amazing yet underrated cast.
Then why didn’t it get a UK distributor?
Party Down first aired in 2009 even though it had been in the making for around six years. The pilot – which was used to sell it to Starz in the US – was filmed in writer Rob Thomas’s house where it featured the same cast only with Andrea Savage as Lizzy Caplan’s character. The episodes follow a catering company around Los Angeles which consists of failed, aspiring actors and writers and what happens when they get caught-up with their guests. The chemistry the cast have is perfect; it leads to timely rifts and camaraderie when needed. Their chemistry is what makes most of the comedy but the storylines perfectly compliment them too. The reactions to situations are instinctive to the characters – they never feel forced for a humorous moment that would lose credibility.
The team are lead by Ken Marino’s Ron Donald who wants to climb the corporate ladder and be the best in the catering agency. The series starts with the inclusion of our main character which is Adam Scott’s failed actor Henry Pollard who has a famous – infamous to him – catchphrase from a beer commercial that haunts him and his career. Lizzy Caplan’s Casey Klein is a comedienne and actress who is struggling to get her career going and ends up bitterly serving people surrounded by other failures. Kyle Bradway (Ryan Hansen) tries to be everything that Jared Leto has failed at being: acting, modelling and being a musician. He has a sort of loveable arrogance that deludes him into thinking he is perfect when he’s the same as his co-workers. My personal favourite is Martin Starr’s Roman DeBeers who is a “hard” sci-fi – s-f he’d call it – writer who is arrogant with his pedantry. He judges everyone and blames everyone else for his lack of success. His hard, brutal exterior is cruel and hypocritical because he can’t take criticism.
One of the main selling points for it is that the magnificent Paul Rudd has a writing credit along with John Enbom, Rob Thomas and Dan Etheridge. If it has Paul Rudd involved then it usually means that it’s genuinely funny – even if he isn’t starring in this. The writing is the thing that makes it what it is with it; the characters have depth and real arcs while the storylines are focused on their mishaps yet don’t stray into the ridiculous for a cheap laugh. It’s one of its best aspects but then again there isn’t a weak link in Party Down. Each episode means you meet new characters that are catered for and they are all memorable; perfectly cast, interesting characters that resonate perfectly with the ensemble. It seems to have come from their personal experiences before being successful.
The pilot episode alone will leave you entranced; before you know it the first season will be over and you’ll be craving even more. It’s a truly enthralling experience that leaves you disappointed that it was cancelled after the second season. Although there’s good news: it has been confirmed that there’s a film in the making with all the cast returning – with the possible exception of Jane Lynch’s Constance. Although there’s always a promise of a small-screen-to-big-screen outing for a lot of things it’ll be nice that – if this does finally materialise – that it’ll be a worthwhile addition.
When you finally start watching it you won’t be asking “are we having fun yet?” – a running joke – but why hasn’t it been distributed in the UK well enough? Why have I not seen this sooner? Why can I only import the DVDs? It’s something that’ll leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth – it’s something that needs to be added to collections everywhere.
Thankfully, back in September 2011, Virgin released it on their On Demand series giving you the chance to truly indulge in its perfection. The success of the series in the UK relies on the success of that. It may finally get a UK distributor and get the release it deserves leading to the appreciation it deserves. Give it a reason to continue in film form at least. Party Down is the funniest thing you’ve never seen.
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