‘Party Down’ springs back up for hilarious Season 3

After 12 years, the sitcom’s all-star cast puts on the pink bow ties again and delivers fresh fare, and this course is especially satisfying.

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A party for their old colleague Kyle (Ryan Hansen, third from left) reunites Roman (Martin Starr), Lydia (Megan Mullally), Constance (Jane Lynch), Ron (Ken Marino) and Henry (Adam Scott) on “Party Down.”

Starz

In this age of Revival TV, it’s a treat to see the movement extend beyond mainstream hits such as “That ’70s Show” and “Night Court” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” to include overlooked cult favorites such as “Party Down,” which ran on Starz for just 20 episodes over two seasons in 2009 and 2010. Low ratings ended the series, even though it was whip-smart and bitingly funny, and the cast included brilliant, up-and-coming talents such as Adam Scott, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Coolidge, Megan Mullally, Ken Marino, Ryan Hansen, Martin Starr and Lizzy Caplan.

Who knows what happened to the careers of those people over the last dozen years (I’m also not sure if series co-creator Paul Rudd is still in the business), but it’s nice to see nearly the entire cast reunited for a hilarious if too-brief Season 3 of “Party Down.” The six new episodes also include some delightful new additions to the main cast, and some fantastic guest-starring work from Jennifer Garner, James Marsden, Nick Offerman, Quinta Brunson and Bobby Moynihan, among others.

With original series co-creator John Enborn penning most of the scripts (the other two creators of the original show are Dan Etheridge and Rob Thomas), Season 3 of “Party Down” doesn’t miss a beat. It takes a bit of creative manipulation to get everyone back in the crisp white shirts and pink bowties, but the series retains its ability to wring dark laughs, slapstick humor and the occasional huggable moment out of the lives of people whose lives always seem to be stuck in second gear, to borrow a lyric from another sitcom universe.

‘Party Down’ Season 3

Untitled

Premiering at 8 p.m. Friday on Starz and its streaming and on-demand platforms, with new episodes premiering on subsequent Fridays.

In the premiere, Ken Marino’s intensely focused and consistently clumsy and accident-prone Ron has taken control of Party Down, which has been hired to cater a party in honor of Ryan Hansen’s Kyle, who has finally broken through as an actor and has been cast as the lead in a superhero movie called “Nitromancer.” Martin Starr’s Roman, who continues to work on his elevated sci-fi opus and is more bitter than ever, is still with the catering company; everyone else has moved on.

Ah, but the party is a great excuse to reunite the old gang, including Jane Lynch’s Constance, now a widowed heiress; Megan Mullally’s Lydia, manager for her daughter Escapade, whose latest teen adventure is titled, “Prom’s Away!,” and Adam Scott’s ennui-filled former actor Henry, whose biggest claim to fame is the catchphrase “Are we having fun yet!” from a long-ago beer commercial. (Lizzy Caplan couldn’t rejoin the show due to a scheduling conflict; we’re told her character Casey Klein has been cast on an “SNL” type sketch show.)

When the group poses for a photo at the party, Kyle asks Henry what he’s been up to.

Henry: “I’m a high school English teacher.”

Kyle: “Oh, nice! On what show?”

Henry [after a pause]: “In real life.”

Under normal conditions, the group would have gotten together for just that one night — but due to a variety of circumstances best left discovered by the viewer, Kyle and Henry wind up back in uniform for the Party Down catering company, while Constance becomes an investor. We’re also introduced to some new employees, including Tyrel Jackson Williams’ Sackson, a young content creator, and Zoë Chao’s Lucy, a cutting-edge chef who wonders why people are so hung up on food tasting good.

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Jennifer Garner is a welcome addition as a potential love interest for Henry (Adam Scott).

Starz

Jennifer Garner is marvelous as one Evie Adler, a movie producer and potential love interest for Henry. (When they meet, Evie is sure she knows Henry from somewhere, just as almost as everyone who meets Henry finds him vaguely familiar. Says Evie to Henry: “You must have read for the Defender Universe movies at some point. No? Max America, Red Glare … Ecomancer, Hydromancer, Cryptomancer, Manputer, Guyote … ?” Poor Henry can only shrink his shoulders and say, No, that’s not it …) We’re reminded of how truly funny and self-deprecating Garner can be when she’s given the right material. She and Scott are instantly terrific together.

“Party Down” still benefits from that baked-in concept of having the team catering a different event each episode, which means introducing a fresh premise while continuing a number of storylines. You never know if the gang is going to be catering a surprise 45th birthday party for a jerky movie star who is cheating on the girlfriend, a luau for a group of radio listeners who have won tickets to see Sting in concert, or a meeting of alt-right believers who keep saying they’re not Nazis when they’re pretty much Nazis. (Offerman is in classic form as a guest speaker at the event who doesn’t understand why it’s offensive for him to invoke Hitler time and again; meanwhile, Ron tries to rally the troops to do their job despite the clientele, saying that Nazis or not, he’d like to snag some referrals.) Are we having fun yet? Most definitely.

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