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Review: 'Party Down'

March 19, 2009 |  6:09 pm

Partydownblog Rob Thomas, the man behind "Veronica Mars" and "Cupid" (the old "Cupid," with Jeremy Piven, and the coming new "Cupid" with Bobby Cannavale) and briefly associated with the rebranding of "90210," has found a new outlet on the relatively remote reaches of Starz, the cable network that shares a name with a bushy-haired 1970s power-pop band. “Party Down,” which premieres tonight, is the show in question, and it is a smart, affable, mostly unpredictable ensemble comedy that reminds us that in the 500-channel universe, fine things can happen in unlikely places, as long as you are clever about budget, commit to a sensible number of episodes -- in this case 10 -- write well and cast right, and that what matters ultimately to heaven is not the eminence of the venue but the quality of the work.

"Party Down" follows a troupe of Southern California caterers as they go from job to job, an arrangement that requires only a single location for each episode and insures variety across the series. It's a bit like "The Office" on wheels, except where "The Office" is about people who, for better or worse, really identify with their jobs, "Party Down" is mostly about people who want something else. Except for enthusiastic team leader Ron (Ken Marino), a formerly aspiring actor who has had a Damascus moment and now regards his job with cult-like satisfaction, none are in catering for catering's sake. They are all show business hopefuls staying alive between auditions and the rare gig -- or, in the case of Ron's old friend Henry (Adam Scott), who was briefly famous for a beer commercial, merely lacking any better plan.

--Robert Lloyd

Read more here.

Photo courtesy of Starz Entertainment