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the afterlife

Starz Plans Party Down’s Digital Afterlife

Party Down is very much dead, but if the folks responsible for axing it have their way, TV's greatest-ever catering comedy will soon morph into a mighty zombie show far more popular than the TV version that aired on Starz for two seasons. Okay, that might be overstating things a tad, but this much is true: You won't have to wait much longer to once again watch the final episodes of Party Down on your laptop or plasma.

Starz seemed to be rubbing salt in the wounds of Party's tiny (but vocal) fan base when, a few days after being canceled owing to really tiny ratings, the show suddenly disappeared from various online and on-demand services (including Netflix streaming). The network immediately insisted that the vanishing act was just an unfortunate coincidence, but some loyalists weren't convinced. Now, perhaps partially in response to the conspiracy theorists (which may include some of the show's cast), Starz is dramatically moving up the normal timeline for releasing season two of Party into the digital wild.

All ten of the show's final episodes will be available for digital downloading beginning August 24, with all the usual suspects (iTunes, Amazon, Xbox) offering episodes for a suggested price of $1.99 a pop. This is just two months after the series finale of Party first ran on Starz: "It's the earliest we've ever gone out (for sale) with a show," says Starz digital media exec Marc DeBevoise. "Our goal is to get out there as fast as possible to the rabid fans." By contrast, the network's much more successful Spartacus won't be available to buy online until September 21, nearly five months after its cable run ended.

There will be other ways to get a Party fix. The show still airs at random times on the various Starz TV networks, while the DVD of season two will be out on September 28. And for fans determined to watch, but not pay a separate fee for the show, DeBevoise says streaming of episodes will be back on Netflix and other digital platforms sometime near the end of the year.

While we don't doubt DeBovoise when he says execs at Starz really, truly did love Party, the network isn't being so aggressive about getting the show back online simply because it has a soft spot for it. More likely, the network may be hoping that all the cult love for the show, if properly nurtured, could result in a whole new afterlife for Party not unlike the post-death prosperity enjoyed by HBO's The Wire and Fox's Arrested Development. If all goes well, perhaps Party creator Rob Thomas (who knows a little something about nurturing TV corpses) will one day find himself begging the cast to reunite for a feature film.

Photo: Starz