Workplace comedies are becoming about as common as your basic situational comedies these days. “The Office” starts its eighth season this fall, and the much more worthwhile “Parks and Recreation” is now picking up critical accolades and commercial success.
In 2009, cable channel Starz introduced a show called “Party Down” that strayed away from the typical workplace comedy and eventually met its demise just two seasons in.
While “The Office” features characters who resolve their conflicts both in and out of work, “Party Down” was a show that showcased laughter and heartwarming moments without ever clocking out.
Created by “Veronica Mars” producers John Enbom and Rob Thomas, “Party Down” follows Party Down Catering, a Los Angeles-based business that does a better job of catering to the self-conscious and neurotic natures of its staff more than any of the people who hire them for their services.
The show centers on Henry (Adam Scott), an actor who returns to his menial position after only experiencing minor success on a beer commercial. While the rest of the staff of Party Down are struggling in their own ways, Henry’s self-absorbed nature causes him to mercilessly wallow in self-pity until he meets the equally troubled but attractive Casey (Lizzy Caplan).
The show continued on with the relationship that slowly develops between Henry and Casey by viewing them solely through their time spent on the job.
Their peers, consisting of comedians like Jane Lynch and Martin Starr, have just as much trouble coming to grips with their lots in life, and the show doesn’t shy away from showing the downsides of trying to make it in L.A.
While the show’s ensemble all eventually feel the wrath of wanting to bask in the limelight – like when the wannabe heartthrob Kyle (Ryan Hansen) lands a role in a base-jumping movie that goes straight-to-video in Asia – it also tows the line between some moments of heartfelt sentiment. One particular exchange between the staff in an episode regarding Casey’s heartbreaking ways showed that “Party Down” could really pull off drama with a straight face.
While the show’s wry blend of humor and drama may have been unwelcoming to fans of broad comedies that favor gags over nuanced stories and subtle humor, “Party Down” offered a rare look at what a workplace could really be – a support system for those who are directionless in life. Imagine if Jim from “The Office” decided to lend Dwight, his frequent target of scrutiny a hand once in a while – maybe Dwight wouldn’t be so helpless.
Cause of Death
While many fans wanted to point the finger at Starz for not promoting “Party Down,” the truth was that the series continuously lost viewers as it went along. While the show did generate quite a few viewings through fans’ ability to stream episodes through Netflix Instant, that’s certainly no way to keep a show that’s barely watched on the air.
The series was set to be canceled as the second season began airing on Starz in 2010, and fans of the series reacted with anger, with several online petitions and pleas for the show to carry on going unheard. Both seasons of “Party Down” have been released on DVD, and the show continues to be available on Netflix’s streaming service.
Survived By: A Possible Film
When beloved cult television shows like “Arrested Development” and “Veronica Mars” are canceled, rumors of a possible film begin to circulate. While “Party Down” was never as popular as those two series, some news from Henry himself at this week’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is keeping fans hopeful.
Scott, who has since moved on to “Parks and Recreation,” is at TIFF promoting his new film “Friends With Kids” and told film blog The Playlist some intriguing information regarding the movie.
“We’re like 90 percent there, we’re hoping to do it maybe next summer, if everyone’s schedules work out and the guys get time to write a script,” Scott said. “They have kind of a skeleton of a story worked out so we know where it’s going to go but we just have to kind of cross the t’s and dot the i’s, or something. But Starz (is) being super cool and they’re going to let us do it, and we’re all excited, we all want to do it.”
While many times rumors of television shows translating to film turn out to be just that, it seems like Scott is pretty certain of the film’s future. The rest of the cast has since found parts in films like “Save the Date,” and the “Party Down” crew even reunited last month on the Adult Swim series “Children’s Hospital.”