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Friday, 23 of April of 2021

Party Down – “Joel Munt’s Big Deal Party”

A huge dork getting into a car full of hot chicks. If that’s not a sign of hope, I don’t know what is.”

After the kind of arc heavy episodes of the past couple of weeks, “Joel Munt’s Big Deal Party” slows things down a bit, doing a very solid stand-alone type episode. Sure, we have the sex-happy Happy Relation Syndrome Casey and Henry back together, looking for ways to fool around all night, but their relationship isn’t the focus this week. Instead, Roman’s past comes back to haunt him, giving Martin Starr a chance to really shine, though I feel this season has done an exemplary job of giving Starr lots of good material (how does he not have a sitcom pilot…?)

Starr has been doing the best work of anyone on the cast this season, between the failed attempts to be a rock star to the writer awakening at Guttenberg’s party. As a result, “Joel Munt” feels like a reward for all his hard work, as Roman is given a surprisingly rich character episode as he faces off against an ex-writing partner, the titular Munt (Paul Scheer) who has adapted a major piece of science fiction (for a $1.5 million pay day no less).

Roman’s  caustic one-liners largely fail him in this episode, as he’s constantly thwarted by Munt’s success, including have the book’s writer on board for the project (a great Dave Allen), hot women hanging onto him, and lots of cocaine. Instead of being able to belittle Munt to no end, Roman turns to Kyle, of all people, to help assist in his revenge. But even this doesn’t work (the urine champagne never works right), and Kyle’s lack of knowledge about Othello (“Like the board game?” (Am I supposed to believe that Kyle ever played Othello the board game?)) adds to show just how incompetent everyone is.

But even after Roman gets his revenge, driving a wedge between Munt and the author, he still fails as Munt steals Roman’s idea. Thwarted again! But Starr keeps an even keel for much of the episode, his resignation playing across every scene. The payoff comes during the credit tag as he watches Munt drive off in victory, with Kyle bucking him up. Starr doesn’t overact the scene, allowing a small smile of realize to creep across his face as he realizes that not only is there hope, there’s the satisfaction of getting it on your own terms.

Sorry for the brief thoughts, but it’s been a busy day.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Ron’s stuff this episode was pretty okay. Nothing to write home about.
  • Casey and Henry were pretty funny throughout the episode, and it was nice to not have them be both so front and center.
  • Lydia, on the other hand, continues to not fit. Her cocaine antics are lazy, and while the payoff is okay, she’s still a floating blog to the ensemble.
  • In a fit of coincidence, “Joel Munt’s Big Deal Party” is a Roman-centric episode (can we say that about Party Down?) just after Matt named him one of the snarkiest characters on TV. Matt didn’t know that when he made the list, but it was a nice alignment of the stars.

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