Thursday, May 20, 2010

Another Thirty Minutes Spoken For

I've been catching the second season of Party Down, an original sitcom on Starz. It's a bit like Taxi, but instead of following a group of cabbies, we watch as caterers go from party to party. None of them see catering as their life--they're mostly young people who want to make it in Hollywood. Each week is a different event, and they usually get mixed up with the host and guests.

It's actually pretty smart. The writing is fairly sharp and the performances are fine. It's apparently been created by people associated with Veronica Mars, a show I never watched but was rumored to be smart as well.

For years I've been hoping to see the return of the sitcom. While they're don't rule the ratings roost as they did in the 80s and 90s, I'm surprised to realize how many half-hour shows I actually watch (when I get the chance--they're not all appointment TV, but then, when you can watch whenever you want, what is?). The biggest difference from the glory days of sitcoms is with few exceptions (Big Bang Theory comes to mind--and it's a bigger hit than any of the others), they're all done without a live audience, or a laugh track.

Party Down is usually shown right before Gravity, a half-hour show (with some comedy, but I don't think you'd call it a sitcom) about a support group for people who have attempted suicide. It features Krysten Ritter, who's quite beautiful, but the show itself is not particularly clever or compelling. I blame co-creator Eric Schaeffer, who also plays the (unnecessary) role of Detective Miller. Schaeffer is a mystery to me. He's written, directed and starred in a number of movies (often with hot models as costars), none of which are much good. I admire the guy for getting projects made, but who keeps backing him?


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