10 p.m. Fridays, Starz
Starz might not be where you'd expect to find a favorite comedy, but the best sitcom you're not watching returns for a second season Friday night on Starz.
"Party Down," about a bunch of would-be Hollywood actors and writers passing the time as cater-waiters. These guys are infinitely stuck, sure they're meant for bigger things, serving canapes while sharing casting and agent stories and line readings in the kitchen.
With their pink bow ties and white shirts, they show up in a different location each week. A rock star's backstage party, a sweet-16 party, a gay wedding, a funeral, a school fundraiser. Booze and expletives flow.
Jane Lynch, who would have broken out in "Party Down" if she hadn't hit the jackpot on "Glee," will return for the second season's finale (her character's wedding). Meanwhile, new cast member Megan Mullally provides the voice of (older, crazier) experience. She plays Lydia, the bitter divorced mother of a teenager with Hollywood dreams.
"Party Down" combines its rich premise with low-budget production and one of the best ensembles in TV comedy. Henry (Adam Scott) is the new team leader, an almost-slightly-famous actor who was in a successful commercial but who is now making peace with slackerdom. Scott is also now a producer; next season he'll sneak off to join the cast of "Parks and Recreation" on NBC.
Ron (Ken Marino) is the lovesick former team leader, prone to drug and alcohol fugues. Casey (Lizzy Caplan) is a standup comedian on the verge of landing a film role. Roman (Martin Starr) is a geeky sci-fi screenwriter with delusions of grandeur. And Kyle (Ryan Hansen) is the vacuous blond., counting on good looks for his big break.
The wonderfully eccentric characters are well-drawn and the casting benefits from the producers' ties to the community: co-creators Rob Thomas ("Veronica Mars"), Paul Rudd, Dan Etheridge and John Enbom, as well as director Fred Savage ("The Wonder Years") have snared guests such as Steve Guttenberg, Marilu Henner and Kristin Bell.