Party Down went off the air 12 years ago, not that anybody really noticed at the time. “Our final episode had, like, 13 thousand viewers,” reminisced current Severance star Adam Scott on Thursday’s Late Show, responding to Stephen Colbert calling the returning series a “cult classic” by noting how the former Starz non-hit lived and died after just two little-watched seasons.
How little-watched was this now-beloved comedy series about a gaggle of hilariously uninvested Hollywood-area caterers? Well, according to available data at the time, Scott may selling himself and his castmates a little short, as it’s estimated that some 74,000 hardy and ahead-of-the-curve souls actually tuned in for the series outstanding and improbably hopeful finale, “Constance Carmel Wedding” back in 2010.
Still, though, that’s the sort of demographic unlikely to lead to a decade-plus-later revival, especially since the absurdly overqualified cast, including Ken Marino, Jane Lynch, Martin Starr, Ryan Hansen, and Megan Mullally, have gone onto projects that draw considerably more than 74,000 viewers. (Sadly, Lizzy Caplan is the only regular not coming back, since she got busy enough in the interim that it presumably means that Casey Klein’s acting career is the only one to actually take off in-universe.)
For Scott, watching Party Down’s posthumous success is rewarding, even if, you know, it would have been nice if anybody had watched the show while it was struggling along on its initial run. Telling Colbert, “I think that’s part of what makes it special to people, is that they had to dig it up and find it themselves,” Scott is prepared to forgive and forget, saying of the fan-driven return, “they feel some ownership over it, which they should, because we have now started up again and rebooted because of them — because people found it.”
And while nobody is blaming the fact that Party Down initially aired on cable network Starz (or “STARZ!,” at the time) for the series’ undeserved obscurity, well, it didn’t help. Scott couldn’t help but draw out the network’s name as he pronounced it to Colbert, perhaps unconsciously channeling those wondering if Starz is still around. (It is, as the third Party Down season will premiere on the Outlander network sometime later this year.)
Colbert, showing off an on-set photo of Scott’s onetime commercial pitchman turned unwilling bartender Henry Pollard back in Party Down Catering’s white shirt and pink bow tie, marveled at the “whole other career” the busy Scott’s had in the meantime. Scott, for his part, claimed that (unlike the beleaguered Henry, one assumes), climbing back into the rumpled catering monkey-suit was “really strange, but really wonderful.”
And while “Constance Carmel Wedding” hinted at Henry Pollard’s return to his once-promising indie movie career, the look on Henry’s face in those catering duds once more suggests that he’s still flailing on the show business margins. (Or, hey, maybe he’s just back at Party Down to research his next big blockbuster movie role. It could happen.)
He also praised new cast member Jennifer Garner for fitting right in with the original cast’s nimble, improv-heavy vibe, and took Colbert up on his bet that this third season of Party Down will out-draw its original, unfairly paltry viewership numbers. Or, rather, he refused to take that bet, since both he and Colbert are relatively certain that at least 74,001 people will eventually tune in.