Sunday, September 24, 2006

Tonight's TV: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Tonight I caught up with my tape of last week's premiere episode of Aaron Sorkin's new series, STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP.

I adored Sorkin's SPORTS NIGHT, which I found one of the most delightful TV shows ever, and thought THE WEST WING was superb television as well. THE WEST WING, incidentally, had one of the all-time best pilot episodes, which I've viewed at least three times.

Unfortunately I can't say I felt the same about STUDIO 60's premiere episode, despite its positive reviews. I didn't find Amanda Peet at all believable as the head of a television network, didn't care for the overall SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE atmosphere and accompanying (so-called) music, found the snarky asides on Christianity tiresome, and generally found it disappointingly phony and shallow. I also could have done without the caption cards borrowed from FRASIER or the live television rant borrowed, as we were reminded incessantly, from NETWORK. And I could have done without the repeated use of a word I'm not sure I've ever before heard on national television.

All in all, the show had an unappealing smug, crass tone which was probably supposed to be "cutting edge" but left me cold.

That said, I'll try it again, because of my respect for Sorkin's past work and my enjoyment of several members of the cast, including Timothy Busfield, Bradley Whitford, and Matthew Perry. Here's hoping the show finds its feet.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. As I said before, is this the best Sorkin can come up with—a show about himself? A self-aggrandizing tribute to his self-perceived moral and intellectual superiority? An all around UGH!

7:40 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Another comment on my part: the background exposition was really clunky. Whereas THE WEST WING simply plunged viewers into the action and let us catch up, STUDIO 60 took pains to *explain* everything. For instance, Ed Asner was brought in for one scene simply to shore up Amanda Peet's credibility as a network head by reading off her "accomplishments" from cards in a dinner party scene. It didn't make her more believable, even if it was "Lou Grant" speaking (grin). The show needed to "demonstrate" rather than "tell."

Oh well...


9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you about the new lady president. All I could think when I was introduced to her character was "Yet another poor, down-trodden woman who has to prove that she's as good as the boys." Isn't that sterotype getting a little dull?

That being said, I'm giving it another shot...after all, it took Sports Night a few episodes to get reving....

10:27 AM  
Blogger Stephanie Rohloff said...

I would agree that Sudio 60 was a let down... I am just curious when Hollywood, and by Hollywood I mean Guys like Aaron Sorkin, are going to realize that mocking Christianity is NOT original. Its funny to me, because a show like this one wants to be insightful... but comes up short simply because it is the same old thing. Fast dialogue with a liberal point of view only. The only way this show could redeem itself is to actually have more then just Aaron's one sided point of view on the table....BUT if you are at all familiar with his work , you will know that is not possible...

10:36 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

You all raise very good points.

I agree about SPORTS NIGHT's slow start -- I think it was about 6 episodes in when it really started rolling and we were hooked. We started watching 3 DVD episodes at a time around that point. :) That is part of the reason I'm willing to give STUDIO 60 another try or two despite being less than impressed with the premiere.

You're right, Sorkin is retreading old ground in more ways than one. He's already done the "woman in a man's TV world" in SPORTS NIGHT, although Felicity Huffman was believable as a TV sports producer and Amanda Peet was in no way believable as the head of a network.

(And how cute was it that Jordan's ex-boyfriend happened to give her crucial personal info on someone who hadn't been employed by the network for four years? Just too convenient...)

The Christian bashing is tiresome and has already been done on occasion on the better-made WEST WING (grin). I don't find casting one of the leads as a Christian to be positive or ground-breaking, when she's treated as some sort of weirdo by other cast members. (I concede it may possibly be somewhat unique for a Christian to work in that *particular* "SNL" type atmosphere, but what came off in the show is simply that multiple characters view Christians, in general, as silly or bigoted. Yawn.)

I think Sorkin has more talent than this, but he's got to get over himself and his biases and try to come up with something fresh and original. :)

Thanks to all for taking the time to share your thoughts!

Best wishes,

11:21 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I haven't seen Episode 2, but am told there are multiple slams on Christianity and even pajama-clad bloggers in tonight's episode... I'm curious how this show is going to play in "red state America."

10:44 PM  

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