PARTY DOWN “California College Conservative Union Caucus”: Barbecue Sauce on the American Flag

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While the pilot of Party Down was brimming with potential, this second episode started paying off that potential. The premise allows for a rich variety of settings to skewer, and they did a much better job taking apart young conservatives than suburbanites (even if neither Jason Dohring nor Alona Tal joined Enrico Colantoni in nakedness). This might mean that the structure of the show is similar from week to week, but if that similarity includes as high a giggles-to-minutes ratio as this ode to Cuban cigars, flagburning, and “Family Values” did, it will be a path well worth walking over and over again. If the show can continue to poke at not only the privileged (having the junior Republicans idolize Max Cleland, for the love of all that’s holy) but at the downtrodden leads (suggesting Henry make his non-alcoholic Manhattan a mix tape before taking its virginity), Party Down will rapidly supplant our other favorite workplace comedies.

PARTY DOWN “Willow Canyon Homeowners Association Annual Party”: Now We’re All Privy To The Fact That Limes Have A Grain

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Folks should probably be relieved that TV Bacon wasn’t around during the heyday of Veronica Mars. I still have the reams of e-mails where Susannah served as impromptu therapist to get me past the second season finale, and that responsibility probably would have fallen to all of you (imagine the reaction to Battlestar Galactica‘s recent mutiny arc, but about tragically underparented teenagers). We had some serious love for that show.

Little surprise, then, that we’d be the target audience for Starz’s new comedy about a mediocre catering business, Party Down. Take a lot of the talent behind Veronica Mars (Rob Thomas, John Enbom, and Dan Etheridge) and a lot of the talent that appeared on that show (the wonderful Ken Marino, Adam Scott, Ryan Hansen, and comedy genius Jane Lynch). Already gold. Add Paul Rudd as a writer/producer and guest spots from additional Veronica alums Alona Tal, Jason Dohring, and a naked Enrico Colantoni, and you’ve got a pretty powerhouse talent pool.

Can the premise and writing give them enough to do? This pilot goes over some pretty well-trodden ground, including too-serious absorption of a racial sensitivity seminar and masturbatory misunderstandings. However, it also has Ryan Hansen singing along to a beat provided by his cell phone, eyebrow shaving, lots of cheese, and a naked Enrico Colantoni. It can be tough to sell a show about failure (especially in these dire times), and it can be even tougher to sell something as inside-baseball as wanna-be writers’ and actors’ failues. But there is a ton of potential here (next week’s preview looks like they’re going deeper, darker, and funnier already), and Party Down‘s first gig was funny enough to have us ordering more shrimp cocktail.