“Stennheiser-Pong Wedding Reception”
May 22nd, 2009
There’s an argument to be made that Party Down is the season’s strongest new comedy, and it’s one that has become progressively easier to make as the season continues. Not to disparage Better Off Ted (which is good but not particularly revolutionary), or The United States of Tara (which was a drama before it was a comedy, realistically speaking), but this out of nowhere Starz series from Rob Thomas and John Enbom simply presented the most complete comedy to debut. A strong ensemble cast is supported by a series of constantly changing party scenarios, ranging from the ridiculous to the personal, where recognizable actors show up as guest stars to complicate the lives of the characters involved; it doesn’t sound too complicated when you really think about it, but it’s essentially an absurdist procedural dark comedy series, and one that has been remarkably consistent.
“Stennheiser-Pong Wedding Reception” is a strong way to end such a consistent season, if not the show’s best episode: like many other comedies, the show is often as its most effective when dealing with heavier dramatic material but at the same time can lose something of its essence. The presence of Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) helps to elevate the finale from a comic level, and Jennifer Coolidge’s continuing guest stint in place of Jane Lynch brings something fun to the table, but this episode is far less about the scenario than it is about the characters. While the series has often ignored the reality of catering in order to allow the characters to mingle about and face little to no actual work, here the whole point is that there is real work: this is the real world, and if you can’t take the heat get out of the barn.
And by the end of the episode, everyone but Henry sort of does.
“He Made Me Look Like Alice Cooper”
May 3rd, 2009
At the beginning of tonight’s penultimate episode of The Amazing Race’s 14th season, Kisha and Jen are elated to find out that they’re still racing, that last week’s cliffhanger meant the leg wasn’t over yet. Jen, in particular, is pleased: she had let the team fall behind with her fear of water creating a gap between them and the other teams, and she didn’t want that fact on her conscience should the team be eliminated.
The story that unfolds after the fact is an epic tale of Amazing Race karma, and results in an ending that needs to be seen to be believed. The rest of the episode, meanwhile, is more fuel on the fire for those who feel the race is unfair based on its current location and the language skills of one of its teams. And while I don’t necessarily agree with this assessment, I do think that some things need to be discussed in further detail…as soon as I run to the bathroom. I’ll be back after the jump, promise.