I don’t think fans of Party Down will be mad about this episode. Sure, there was all the hype of a Party Down reunion in the news, and all the fans of both shows (who already share a lot of cast members and guest stars) got understandably excited about seeing their faves back onscreen in pink bow ties again. Well, we did! Okay, they’re in some sort of mauve bowtie, but it’s them! Lizzy Caplan, Martin Starr, Ryan Hansen, Megan Mullally, and Ken Marino (the last two didn’t have far to travel), for all of a minute or two, back on screen together!
If fans expected more, well, you probably shouldn’t have. Childrens Hospital lives to subvert expectations, and this episode is no different. As I saw it, it could go two ways: Either literally have the episode be a Party Down episode with the Childrens characters in the background (the very idea of which did give me a little thrill) or just have the caterers show up at the end. The show went with the latter, and it was probably right to. It’s a sweeter coda, and the joke may well have worn out after more than a few minutes. It’s still very heartwarming to see the characters all in their suits, bantering like Starz never canceled ’em. Lydia is kinda racist, Roman is misanthropic, Kyle is excitable as ever, and Ron and Casey have a vintage little bit about her being on the phone.
The question that instantly occurred to me (and everyone else, I’m sure) was “Where’s Adam Scott?” Yeah, in the initial announcement of the episode, there was no mention of him, but you figured, he’d been on the show, surely he can pop in for five seconds? Well, he was probably busy with Parks And Recreation or something like that, but I prefer to think that we should take this as a canonical follow-up to the Party Down season two finale and decide that Henry Pollard has made it in the acting business enough to not have to be a cater-waiter anymore. And that’s totally worth not seeing Adam Scott for, right?
The final post-credits tag (I wonder if some people turned the show off in disgust before the end?) notwithstanding, this was a very funny episode, centering on two Jewish rites of passage: circumcision (which Owen decides to undo) and bar mitzvah (which Glenn decides to finally go through with). Outside of the Party Down crew, there are other welcome guest-spots: Stephen Root is a hoot (no rhyme intended) as Owen’s disbelieving dry-cleaner dad, and David Wain returns as Jewy McJewjew who keeps making out with Val behind Glenn’s back. Like, literally, right behind it.
Owen’s story is probably my favorite of the two, mostly because he’s my favorite on the show—Rob Huebel has done perhaps the most on Childrens Hospital to carve out a weird personality for his character that remains relatively consistent from episode to episode. Owen is won over by the Chief and Nurse Kulap’s proclamation that uncircumcised penises are sexier so he wants his own dick redone, “ASAPenis!” His interactions with his family as he tries to recover his lost foreskin are hilarious, especially his Chinese mom, who we are reminded is Chinese over and over again—“I see you're still Chinese! I'll see you on China day.”
But Ken Marino nails his awkward Jewish ritual as well, especially the strangled, halting cry of the Torah reading at the end, delivered while wearing a 13-year-old’s suit. Jewy and Val’s romance needs to get resolved at some point, but Glenn’s paranoia plays out beautifully, especially when he realizes he’d imagined the two of them making out, and the car they were in, and, indeed, his own pants.
There's one more (bonkers-looking) episode on the way before this excellent season draws to a close, but I think ending on a shot of those wonderful people in their mauve bowties would have been a sterling way to go out.
- Glenn says tests don’t lie. “Unless of course it’s a lie detector test malfunctioning; that would be the textbook example of a test lying. But it’s not, and your son is terminal.”
- Nurse Kulap gets a nice share of the spotlight this week, especially when she starts eating that sandwich in the “previously on” and finishes as the episode opens.
- Facts about Jews: “We have big hands, we’re good at math, and we can lift three times our body weight."
- Glenn can also banter well during basketball. “Black guys! Best two out of three!”
- “Attention, hospital staff. Yeah, I write these when I'm high!”
- Sy: “I am the Michael Jackson’s father of cantoring.”
- Sy’s got some good getting older advice too. “You realize life’s not just about being cool; you throw away your dungarees! You look for a lighter-weight slack!”
- “I’m glad you’re having your fun, but the rest of us, we’re mending pants and whatnot!” “Just because I work with children does not make me gay.”
- Owen’s mom is “around here somewhere being all CHINESE!”
- Maybe one day we'll have an episode about what Blake got up to in his tracksuit. “Your breath is TERRIBLE,” the Chief tells him.
- “Jews are so sweet. Just… keep an eye on your wallet.”
- “Oh man, these Heebs can eat. I can’t wait to see the comment card.”