Now that’s more like it.
If you’ve been following along with my Party Down reviews, by any chance, you’ll remember that I was let down by the last couple of episodes. I didn’t find them comedically satisfying. Last week’s episode, specifically, had a great dramatic sequence but almost no good comedic moments. In my review of that episode, I wrote that when Party Down is at its best, it can juggle great drama and great comedy simultaneously.
And if Party Down isn’t at its best in “Celebrate Ricky Sargulesh,” it’s pretty damn close.
Ricky Sargulesh (Steven Weber) is a screenwriting gangster, recently acquitted of a murder. His gangster friends are throwing him a big celebratory party for successfully navigating the legal system, and have hired our Party Down crew to cater it.
These gangsters must be very attuned to pop culture, as Kyle, Constance, Casey, and Henry are all recognized from their various works. They treat these “celebrities” like stars, inviting them to party alongside the gangster hosts, and leaving all of the actual catering work to poor Ron.
Roman, meanwhile, is busy reading Ricky’s screenplay. As soon as Ricky found out that Roman is a writer (and not Napoleon Dynamite, as he first thought), he forces Roman to read his script and to give him notes. As Roman reads the script, he becomes more and more convinced that the script is in fact a confessional manifesto from Ricky, effectively admitting that Ricky did commit the murder he was so recently acquitted from.
He is also convinced that the script indicates that Ricky is planning on killing his best friend. He warns the friend, but to no avail – Ricky’s best friend won’t believe that Ricky would do such a thing. (At the end of the episode, Roman realizes that Ricky was referring to another friend, but can’t do anything to stop Ricky from killing him.)
Ricky’s girlfriend, Ula (Maria Zyrianova), begins flirting with Henry from the moment she arrives at the party. One of Ricky’s minions sees Henry and Ula making out in the parking lot and notifies his boss. Ricky corners Henry threateningly, telling Henry that Ula is his girlfriend (a fact which Henry had not previously known).
Thinking quickly, Henry grabs Casey and tells Ricky that she’s his fiancé, and that he would never cheat on Casey. Ricky is still suspicious, but then… he recognizes Henry as “that guy.”
Henry was never so happy to supply an audience with a booming “are we having fun yet?” he does it over and over, enthusiastically, for all of the gangsters that are excited to be in the presence of D-List fame.
This is a very good episode. For one thing, it does some more fleshing out of Henry and Casey’s relationship – this week it’s Casey’s turn to be jealous of Henry when she finds out about Ula. (She also admits to having kissed Rick Fox at the corporate retreat.)
It’s also a very funny episode. It’s Roman-heavy, which is always a good thing, and Martin Starr hits it out of the park this week with several incredible monologues (especially one wherein Roman asks Henry to help him hook up with Casey now that Henry’s through with her.) Constance has some great moments as she flirts with a gangster that recognizes her from her great work in the classic film “Dingleberries.”
Each cast member gets a moment or two to shine here. The concept of a group of gangsters obsessed with celebrity and niche pop culture is a funny one. Steven Weber is gloriously weird as Ricky, and is a pleasure to watch all the way through.
Bottom line, this episode is a great example of Party Down firing on all cylinders.
Party Down “Celebrate Ricky Sargulesh” Rating: 9/10
Soup’r Crackers Quote Corner
Roman: “You don’t shit where you eat, buddy.”
Henry: “You’re just pissed because I just shat where I ate, and now you want to eat at that same restaurant where I was shitting.”
“Fuck Close Encounters. When they do arrive on Earth, they’re not going to be cute and snuggly. They’re going to be a super advanced society, and we’re going to be fucking ants to them. They’re not going to sing and wave at François Truffaut, it’s not going to be a fucking musical, they’re going to take him and everyone else and feed us into giant processors and strain us for our chemicals.” – Roman
“Let me tell you a story. I was once involved in a workplace romance. It kinda got out of hand. It was a sex explosion is really the only way I can describe it. We did it constantly. In the van, in bathrooms, in the bushes, it was non-stop sex. We fucked in the sink, we fucked in a dinghy…”
“Look, man , you’re still on my shit list, but if you and Casey are kaputnik, maybe you can help me catch her on the rebound, give me some tips of kinky things she’s into, maybe she likes feet…” – Roman
“Insect, leave us, I will cut off your face.” – Constance’s gangster friend, flashing a machete, when Ron tries to interrupt them.
“When you escape, as I did, from jaw of hell, you understand which things really matter. Honor, friends, eh, women, and… celebrities! Eh? Let’s hear it for Hollywood celebrities! Yeah? You make us laugh, eh? You make us cry! You teach us what it means to be human.” – Ricky, giving a toast
“… okay.” Ula, accepting Ricky’s enthusiastic proposition of marriage.