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Party Down: Season One (DVD Review)

1 Apr, 2010 By: John Latchem

Street 4/6/10
Anchor Bay
$29.97 two-DVD set
Not rated.
Stars Ken Marino, Adam Scott, Martin Starr, Ryan Hansen, Jane Lynch, Lizzy Caplan.

Meet the team from Party Down, the most incompetent catering crew in Hollywood. These guys don’t even make a pretense of wanting to do anything but their job.

Think of it as a variation of “Entourage,” but all the characters are Johnny Drama and have even less talent.

There’s Henry (Adam Scott), a failed actor with nothing better to do than sarcastically coast through life and goof around with Casey (typically free-spirited Lizzy Caplan), the dour stand-up comedian. Roman (Martin Starr) is a fanboy sci-fi writer who acts a bit like Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory” but with a libido. Kyle (Ryan Hansen) gets by on his pretty boy teeny bop heartthrob looks, while former sexpot Constance (the incomparable Jane Lynch) can’t move on from her former glory, which was never that glorious to begin with. Topping it off is team leader Ron (Ken Marino), who wants to open his own restaurant, but he’s such a loser he caters his own high-school reunion.

Each episode of this smartly written celebrity-infused comedy sends the crew to a new party, where they invariably entangle themselves in the proceedings while dealing with the general BS they encounter (writers John Enbom and Dan Etheridge call it “comic realism”). The set-up lets the humor flow from both the characters and the setting, slowly layering in gags that build to a crescendo of hilarity. Some jokes work better than others, but the huge payoffs make it easy to overlook any awkward moments or lags in pacing.

The first-season DVD includes all 10 episodes, plus some good deleted scenes, commentaries on select episodes and a couple of promotional featurettes that interview the cast and creators (who include Paul Rudd and “Veronica Mars” scribe Rob Thomas).

The season ends with a minor cliffhanger that will be resolved when the second season premieres April 23 on Starz, with Megan Mullally taking over for Lynch, who left after eight episodes to star on “Glee.”   

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