“Party Down”, comedy fans may remember, was the superlative, achingly brilliant Starz original series that got shitcanned by former HBO head honco Chris Albrecht so the network could focus on, er, attractive naked people wrestling in ancient times (“Spartacus: Blood and Sand”) and attractive naked people wrestling in medieval times (“Camelot”). It was also one of the best-observed ensemble comedies in recent memory and boasted a cast (Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan, Jane Lynch, Ryan Hansen, Martin Starr, Ken Marino and Megan Mullally) that launched a thousand fan letters after the series was unjustly wrenched screens a couple of years ago. Since its cancellation, though, we’ve been teased with piecemeal announcements from the show’s creative team that “Party Down” could rise again, phoenix-like, from the ashes as a feature-length movie. This latest one comes from co-creator Rob Thomas who, speaking to a crowd at a marathon viewing session of the show’s entire run at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, had a lot to say about the show’s afterlife:
“People are talking to us about doing a ‘Party Down’ movie, and we are pretty far down the dealmaking process with that, so we’re hopeful that there will be a ‘Party Down’ movie. Ideally, if it works out, we could be shooting in television hiatus time next spring. So, hopefully that deal will close, and we’ll all tweet about it when it does.”
All of that sounds wonderful, of course, but should be taken with a heavy pinch of salt. Thomas has made similar promises before about his other canceled-before-its-time TV show, “Veronica Mars”, that never came to reality and all of the heady optimism surrounding a potential “Arrested Development” movie has had the wind sucked out of it in the five years since the show went off air. Thomas’ news, on the face of it, seems a little more concrete, though he was likely talking from the heart rather than the head. Cautioning that his fellow co-creator John Enbom would have his plate full with prepping his new show, “Free Agents,” the logistical ramifications of mounting such an effort — especially since the cast have careers of their own to worry about — seem prohibitive, though cast members like Caplan have been doing their best to talk up the project since the show went off air. And thought it has since earned new buzz after becoming widely available on Netflix Instant, we raised several practical roadblocks as to why the film will likely never happen, as well as the remote possibility that it might be better to let sleeping dogs lie, back in late April.
The bigger question is how “Party Down” ‘s episodic format would translate to a feature-length at all. At the show’s center was the stoic failed actor Henry Pollard (Scott, lately of “Parks and Recreation” fame) once known best for a flash-in-the-pan beer commercial where he goofily announced “Are we having fun yet?” only to settle for half, Alfieri-style, in the Los Angeles catering industry, years after his relative fame had petered out. While the final episode’s closing minutes suggested that Henry could possibly get back in the acting saddle, leaving the show a note of suitable ambivalence, Thomas has certainly been chatty about what the backbone of a new film might look like. Collider report that the movie could replicate the structure of Richard Curtis‘ “Four Weddings and a Funeral” over the course of several months and catered events (though hopefully the similarities between it and that treacle-fest end there) and The AV Club relay Thomas promising to open the film by recreating the beer ad that Henry is taunted with over the course of the show’s 20 episodes, thus providing an easy entry point for the thousands of people who didn’t see the show on its original broadcast. It’s a neat plan that we’d greet with a drunken Roman DeBeers-style “Magnicifent!” should it ever come off.
Fan wish fulfillment sometimes does come true, of course, and it can come out well — “Serenity” is the most obvious example — and if Thomas et al are genuinely “pretty far down the dealmaking process” it’s cause for celebration. But if it’s a Jason Bateman case of greasing the fans with vague promises every couple of months only to have nothing come to light, it’s a frustrating exercise in futility. Until Thomas’ masterplan gains any realistic traction, we’ll have to put up with quasi-reunions on the likes of “Childrens Hospital” and scouring the appropriate Twitter feeds like the hollowed-out emotional husks of humanity we’ve become since the show went off air before we can, y’know, start having fun just yet.