Yesterday’s series premiere of Party Down – the new Starz comedy set in the world of catering from Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas – was full of surprises. First, the show was a parade of much-beloved faces. There’s Adam Scott (pictured), a likable actor who has been in everything from Step Brothers, Knocked Up, and The Aviator to HBO’s racy, short-lived drama Tell Me You Love Me. Then you have funny woman Jane Lynch (Best in Show, The 40 Year Old Virgin), Lizzy Caplan (Mean Girls, True Blood), Ryan Hansen (who some may have seen earlier this week in Josh Schwartz’s Rockville, CA), and even a grown-up Bill Haverchuck (!) from Freaks and Geeks (whose real name is Martin Starr, by the way). And, to top if off, Fred Savage directed the pilot and Paul Rudd, pretty much our favorite human being, is credited as a writer. It’s an impressive collection of comedic talent, to be sure.
Second, it was funny! Each episode is anchored by a different party the team is forced to cater, led by Ron (played by Reaper’s Ken Marino),one of those well-intentioned people who might snap at any moment. Therest of the troupe is made up of struggling actors just looking for apaycheck. While not exactly a novel premise, Party Down showedpromise. In the premiere, Henry (Scott) endured his first day on thejob at a neighborhood soiree that featured streaking, a publicmeltdown, myriad references to Repo Man, and an awards ceremony even more pathetic than the Dundees on The Office.Because each episode will allow these characters to interact indifferent locations (along with a revolving door of supportingcharacters), it has room to amp up the ridiculousness. It also has roomto utilize Lynch more efficiently. If you’ve seen her in, well,anything, you’d know she’s aces at playing crazy.
Third surprise: It’s on Starz?! I have been ignorant up to thispoint that the network is creating original programming. (Did someonesay Crash? Quiet, you.) For those of you who don’t have access to the network, Party Down isconveniently available for streaming on Netflix Instant Watch. I, forone, am glad to have watched and will continue watching. Did anyoneelse catch the series premiere last night? What did you think?