Talk about a party. The fourth episode of Starz party down revival remains with a Big Lebowski– an inspired half hour that not only ranks among the best episodes in the show’s history, but also one of the funniest sitcoms since the glory days of Half Baked It is Smiley face. “Lebowski was definitely in my head,” the episode’s director – and party down cast member – Ken Marino confirms to Yahoo Entertainment when the comparison is made to the Coen Brothers favorite from 1998. “That’s right.”
In “KSGY-95 Prizewinner’s Luau”, everyone’s favorite bartenders are hired to provide drinks and serve canapés at a very special luau hosted by a local radio station that is flying VIP guests to a Sting concert. Backstage, Henry (Adam Scott) and his girlfriend, Evie (Jennifer Garner), decide to throw their own party, courtesy of some magic mushrooms, and the rest of the Party Down crew – minus Marino’s straight boss Ron – joins in. in fun.
But as the mushrooms take hold, their respective psyches threaten to be split in two. Soon, resident chef Lucy (Zoë Chao) is making appetizers out of wood pulp; aspiring influencer Sackson (Tyrel Jackson Williams) disappears during a live stream of his first road trip; and Henry and Evie are doing like the guy as they try to solve the mystery of where he went. Meanwhile, the group’s resident sci-fi lover Roman (Martin Starr) – whose streak of paranoia is as great as his love for Philip K. Dick – discovers that the luau is in truth a sting operation designed to arrest deadbeat parents who defaulted on child support.
Clearly, there’s a lot going on in this episode, but Marino and the cast really bring the room together, playing big drug humor… but not also big. “The whole point of filming something like this is just to try to be as real as possible,” explains the director. “Don’t play around with it too much; be as specific as possible.”
Scott agrees with Marino when discussing how he approached the role of Henry completely stoned. “It’s always challenging if you have to pretend to be drunk or stoned because you don’t want it to be fake,” said the parks and recreation fan favorite explains. “We’ve all seen the fake version of every different type of intoxication. I’ve always felt that the more specific the better, so this is where I usually start. And since we were all doing it, it was really fun to just hold hands and jump off that one. cliff together.”
According to party down showrunner, John Enbom, the details of “KSGY-95 Prizewinner’s Luau” changed a lot during production of Season 3. “It originally started out as a completely different episode,” he reveals, adding that the abandoned version of the episode highlighted Lizzy Caplan as Henry’s on-again, off-again girlfriend Casey Klein – the only major character from the first two seasons not to return in the third. (Caplan was intended to be a part of the revival, but had production conflicts with other shows that required her to pull out. That’s when Garner was tapped to make her rom-com comeback as Henry’s new love interest.)
“Once we realized this wasn’t another Lizzie episode, we had to rethink what we were doing,” continues Enbom. “The idea we had was that they’re in this beautiful place and it’s boring work, so they would try mushrooms. That’s where we started, and everything else was invented by us. [later].”
Like every episode of party down — which has always relied heavily on improvisation — the cast had a lot of leeway in deciding how their characters would behave during their respective journeys. “I was given a surprising amount of freedom,” says Williams, who has not been a part of the show’s previous seasons. “I was really excited about it because his experience is then intense and negative. Ken told me, ‘You can go as far as you like, and if we need to dial back, we’ll dial back.'”
And many of Sackson’s outtakes made it to the cutting-room floor mainly due to lack of time. “During the live stream audio where Sackson is babbling incoherently, there are several takes where Ken says, ‘I’ll leave the mic on, say whatever,'” recalls the actor. “It was so insanely stupid some stuff coming out of my mouth! But it was really fun; I hope some of it sees the light of day.”
Chao – who is also doing her party down premieres this year — says Williams’ mushroom-enhanced performance became the gold standard the other cast members had to live up to. “We filmed my stuff after he filmed his, and Ken said, ‘You guys necessary see Tyrel in ‘mushrooms,’” says the actress, laughing. “And I was like, ‘F****, Tyrel is killing it! Now I have to do that too.’” Fortunately, she was able to come up with her own version of what Lucy’s trip would be like.
“I was really stressed because I joined the show in season three and I didn’t want to screw it up,” she explains. “And I was doubly scared of this episode because you’re discovering a new character, and you’re also discovering what that character is like when they’re high. What guided me throughout the entire season was my props, so I was like, ‘The answers are here!’ It’s fun to see Lucy not in an angry and resentful place, but in this space that’s creative and ecstatic and just moving forward.”
Another scene that didn’t make the final cut is Roman’s reaction to discovering that his car has been stolen by a deadbeat parent. Needless to say, he isn’t all that happy. “When we were filming, I thought ‘My car is right here,’ and then I pretended to get in it and drive it, but it wasn’t there. It was just me walking around. where’s the blooper reel?”
Naturally, someone had to stay sober while filming the episode, and that responsibility fell on Marino and Enbom’s shoulders. “I spent a lot of time in my trailer while everyone else was running around and having a great time at this park in Malibu,” says the showrunner. “I’d show up and they’d say, ‘We’re having a great time!'”
For his part, Marino calls the episode a “blur”, but not because of any substances he absorbed while driving. “We were moving so fast and I was involved in every moment of it,” he recalls. As for how he stayed in character – and kept a straight face – while watching the rest of the cast go wild, he indicates that he channeled his inner Walter Sobchak. “When someone is playing an altered version of themselves, it’s fun to just sit back and watch and react. You react differently based on what they’re giving you.” It’s his opinion, man.
party down airs Fridays at 10 pm on Starz.