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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Party Down 1x01 - Pilot

Today's selection is a 36 page script, undated and with no notes about which draft it is, written by Rob Thomas, John Embom, Dan Etheridge and Paul Rudd (download here).

Being that this is also a show made for cable, there are no teasers or tags or... acts, really.

The best thing about this script, hands down, is that it is actually 'laugh-out-loud' funny (yes, I hate those words, but I did, in fact, laugh-out-loud... so I guess it is an apt descriptor).

My first reaction to reading this script was thinking that it was something sort of in the comedic vein of Napoleon Dynamite -- lots of awkward silences and weird, unexplained outbursts of weird awkwardness... and it sort of is... except there's an undercurrent of nihilistic pathos that makes it slightly more Eagle Vs. Shark than Napoleon (*cough* please excuse me whilst I don my Hipster glasses).

Anyways, as usual, I digress.

What eats away at these characters -- for pretty much everyone in this script except for the boss, Ron and the unflappable Constance -- is this constant belief that they're stuck acting beneath their station, that this job is some sort of 'Purgatory' until they can manage to claw their way back on course toward their dreams.

In Henry's case -- the main character -- he's already resigned himself to failure.  He's 33, his looks are fading and he's got a bad back to boot.  As far as he's concerned, his life peaked and he never even noticed until it was on the way down.

And now he's back at the bottom rung of the ladder, working as a waiter for a low-rent Party company in LA amongst others still dreaming of the ride up.

The script itself, as a base sauce, is... morose.  The self-aware sadness of it all practically seeps out of its pores and into your hands... and yet, from this base come moments of gut wrenching, eye-watering comedy as these characters try to eke out another job and cope with their 'super happy, ultra efficient, always ON' boss, Ron.

Oddly enough, it's Ron -- the positive force -- who ends up having the funniest scene in the whole episode (page 25-26) as his gig starts to go sideways and no matter what he does, he just makes it worse.  There's a moment of desperation, where something else bleeds through, something only hinted at over the course of the episode:  Ron wasn't always the ultra-happy-efficient person we see here -- and that one flailing moment where he almost loses it, almost drops to another level... just fucking slayed me.

All-in-all, this is a script that, at first glance, wouldn't appear to be for everyone -- there's just SO MUCH sadness and tedium and awkwardness pouring from the characters in this script. But once you know them, once they're established and you start to see them interact... once you see the stew start to congeal... it's fucking brilliant stuff.

And it really is a pretty damned funny script.

I highly recommend it.

Next up: Tomorrow is a show I've heard of but have never had any interest in watching -- that said, apparently it's doing gangbusters out there... so... alright.

Tomorrow is Gossip Girl 1x01.

This should be interesting.

Cheers,
Brandon

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