New Starz comedy doesn't get the 'Party' started
Never mind that the Starz strategy -- original scripted series with some connection to movies or the entertainment industry -- is narrow. Broadcast networks appear to be swearing off inside-Hollywood shows because they rarely appeal to the mainstream, but for a subscription service like Starz, whose viewers choose to pay for the channel, it's a safer bet.
The network's best show, "Head Case," returns Friday night at 10 with Dr. Elizabeth Goode (Alexandra Wentworth) continuing to act as shrink to celebrities who play themselves. It's followed by the new comedy "Party Down" (10:30 p.m.), which was created by a team that includes writer Rob Thomas ("Veronica Mars") and actor Paul Rudd, but it only intermittently inspires a good time.
The focus is on Los Angeles cater waiters, most of whom aspire to work in the business rather than waiting on the movers and shakers. Henry (Adam Scott, "Tell Me You Love Me") became famous for a beer commercial but never advanced, so he's back tending bar. Casey (Lizzy Caplan, "The Class"), an aspiring comedian, is having marital troubles and begins to bond with Henry. These two are the most relatable, realistic characters. Everybody else is largely a caricature.
- When: 10:30 p.m. Friday, Starz.
Ron (Ken Marino, "Reaper"), who runs the team, aspires to own a fast-food franchise; writer Roman (Martin Starr, "Freaks and Geeks") sabotages actor Kyle (Ryan Hansen, "Veronica Mars") and Constance (Jane Lynch, "Best in Show") is far too touchy with everyone.
Friday's premiere is fairly lackluster with few big laughs or knowing snickers (best line: When Henry learns Kyle has a band, acts and models, he says, "So you're in the 'overall handsome business.'").
A future episode, set at a college conservatives convention, has more funny moments but the subtler, smarter humor is balanced against over-the-top, broad scenes. "Party Down" can't decide if it wants to be smart-funny or dumb-funny. Maybe if it does, the party will truly begin.
First Published March 19, 2009 12:00 am