Previously on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: Jordan realized that what her life needs while her job hangs in the balance and as she heads into single motherhood is a recovering coke head who has apparently replaced his craving for drugs with an addiction to her and has been wooing her with the single-mindedness of a junkie chasing a fix. Meanwhile, Harriet has decided that Matt is a selfish putz whose only interest in her is as some sort of trophy so she's broken it off with him once and for all until the next time she breaks it off with him once and for all.
Isn't it romantic?
To untangle the twisted psychology of the principals and explain their self-destructive and childish approaches to love and sex, I invited several prominent psychoanalysts to guest host tonight's live blogging.
Unfortunately, they were all busy meeting with their divorce attorneys.
Fortunately, in their place I was able to rope in---I mean, I was able to prevail upon an...investment banker.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome regular commenter here and blogger in his own right at the group blog Marginal Utility, Ken Houghton, who will not, I repeat, will not answer any questions about your retirement portfolio.
Let me read to you a short summary of Ken's impressive resume, written by Ken himself:
"Ken Houghton is old. His electric piano has vacuum tubes, and he plans to maintain his (decaying) 8-track collection at least until the first Herbie Hancock/VSOP album is released on CD. He has had a desultory writing career, having been paid to write for The Great American Baseball Stat Book, The Washington Post Book World, various reference works (examples include articles on Harlan Ellison, Kaye Gibbons, John Fletcher, and John Hollander, as well as a survey piece on The Holocaust in American Literature), and Publishers Weekly, where he was one of those anonymous reviewers for a few years until they caught him at it. His not-for-pay work includes contributions to The New York Review of Science Fiction (a paying market, but he was a staff member at the time), The Scream Factory, Necrofile: The Review of Horror Fiction , and, most recently, an appreciation of Jorge Luis Borges for last year’s Readercon 17 program book.
"And, as noted here previously, he sullies Tom Bozzo’s normally-ultrachic, smart, hip blog Marginal Utility with ramblings on topics economic and otherwise. He lives in NJ with his wife and two daughters, the youngest of whom is sung to sleep with his (off-key) renditions of old Neil Diamond songs, and makes a living by day hassling other people to do work."
There you have the man in a nutshell, folks. So, as Steve Kuusisto and his All Girl Kazoo Band play their rendition of "Sweet Caroline," let's welcome to the stage a man who needs no introduction because I've just given one and there's no need to repeat myself, ladies and gentlemen, Kennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.....
Studio 60 should be familiar to those practicing pattern recognition. Just as Harrison Ford made two movies whose plots turn to some extent on questions being answered late, and Bruce Willis made two films that depend on his inability to recognize a voice, so Aaron Sorkin has created his second series in which people are producing a television show and almost no one cares about the product. (In between, he created and wrote a show in which Everyone Cared Very Much.)
Since I prefer to treat “The Harriet Dinner” as an attempt to repair the damage done the week before (Danny-as-stalker becomes Jordan-as-Almodovar-heroine; Matt-may-have-been-an-asshole becomes Matt-is-an-asshole, etc.) with comic relief (if one can call snakes, ferrets, coyotes, drunk 20-year-olds, and dolphin sounds comic; YMMV), let us instead describe a few of the central characters:
Matthew Perry, a talented comic actor and recovering drug addict, plays Matt, a comic writer and recovering drug addict.
Amanda Peet, a pregnant, Ivy League alumnae, plays Jordan, a pregnant, Ivy League alumnae who runs programming for the network on which Studio 60 airs. She doesn’t appear to be very good at it.
Sarah Paulson, Lance’s bete noire for this series, plays a character who is not Kristin Chenoweth. Even though she made one appearance on The 700 Club while dating Matt, just as Chenoweth did. Even though she has a squeaky-clean reputation, just as Chenoweth does. Even though she has a history with Matt, even as Chenoweth has one with Sorkin.
Timothy Busfield, who has directed several episodes of Studio 60, plays a director of “Studio 60.” He should not be referred to as Elliot or Danny Concannon.
TO THE LIVE:
9:43 - I have now watched enough of Heroes to almost understand some of the characters, but rather prefer the art direction.
9:48 - "Like Nature or G-d," spoken by a man wearing a Ramones t-shirt.
"New characters and insights from the graphic novel"; cross-marketing r us.
"Are you in love with her or are you stupid?" Is there an option for All of the Above? (we know he's cool, cuz he wears his hat backwards.)
"All we can do is run." Should this be taken as advice?
Are we following yesterday? (And what live-on-Friday show allows its starts to have Thursday off? Did Sorkin learn nothing from Gasping for Airtime?
Oh, this is the dress. Anyone recognize the musical act?
"write on both walls at the same time" -- isn't that directly from Mohr's description?
Didn't I see this on TWW with Josh (Bradley "not in Aerosmith" Whitford)?
<a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0478834/">Gina La Piana</a>, if you care.
An American won the TdF in 1986 and 1989 (Greg LeMond). And 1990, iirc.
10:15 - Ah, Tim Batallie. The drama-missing has a name.
So the "slaughter" is 28 minutes from a show that should run 66. Cutting the musical guests.
We're now hearing Smash Mouth. I'm more inclined to 1999.
Now we know she's Not Kristen.
We got Nivea during Heroes; it's Jergens now. Does that qualify as downmarket?
Now that, as we learned last episode, is what a writer does. Goes to people with sketches to write.
Am I the only one who has trouble with Matthew Perry as The Jewish Character?
I chose to skip closed-captioning tonight; is there something profound in the song?
Nate:Rob::Jim:John -- but that's probably an insult to Jim.
How many angels fit on the head of a pin? (If the answer is anything but infinite, it implies angels have mass. If the answer is 10,000 x 10,000, we have a distribution problem.)
Should we see The Departed or Venus first? (Have SAG screeners of both.)
Presumably local commercial (for Mohegan Sun): "I'm fakin' it until I'm makin' it." Did they need to remind us?
Jordan fails to work again. (Side question, since I'm bored of her: how much did they spend on sets and tech for that roughly 30% of this week's show that needs to be cut? Was it more than Timothy Busfield cost them in tearing up the <s>series</s> stage?
I'm trying to avoid checking the time; there appear to be hours left.
<a href="http://lancemannion.typepad.com/lance_mannion/2007/02/studio_60_the_j.html#comment-60363408">Thank you, Lance</a>; I didn't want to mention it.
We went on vacation a few years ago and met one of the people who was in the original Yale production of Sondheim's adaptation of The Frogs.
"moving in circles, won't you dilate..."
Is he from Eureka, or am I just dilating? The co-writer, that is.
The mention of Celebrity Poker allows me to mention that this is, so far, the only Sorkin show on which <a href="http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0539651/">Joshua Malina</a> has not yet appeared. At least HE denied killing JC.
Damn. Jordan knows the days of the week. (Of course, so does my five-year-old.)
NOW I know what's wrong. (I'm slow) We haven't seen Steven Weber Action Executive!
10:50 More Mohr coming now.
Home stretch. Gosh, gollee, gee: Bad Singing Teacher is In.
10:54: Last Thursday night. So this is a week later? Metric Conversion is In.
1055: "Because I can't live without her." Oh, sorry, no.
Recap: Hmmm. Even without SWAE, things moved forward! Hallie is evil, but not clever enough for the hormonally-challenged Jordan; Matt is preparing for a downfall; we have a Disney artist who knows all about pills; and--best of all?--they didn't TRY to be funny.
After so much optimism, is it wrong to be optimistic once more?
Let's look for a moment at <a href="http://lancemannion.typepad.com/lance_mannion/2007/02/studio_60_the_j.html#comment-60364742">Dave MB's comparison of this ep to Two Cathedrals</a>. The problem is that that led to major changes in the dynamics of the series. What can we change here? Get away from the romantic comedy (or leave it to Whitford and Peet, the Wesleyan and the Columbia graduate)? Deal profoundly with Matt's relapse? Give more sketches to Nate Corddry?
I am cautiously optimistic that we have not wasted this hour. But we have been here before, and I wish to thank Lance for his continuing attempt to make The Scarsdale TV Doctor's current show more interesting. (Someone with a watch, Come On Down!)
I'm going back to Tom's place, eventually to post the outline of the first three chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (which may or may not be accurate). We now return to our regular host.
Thank you, Ken. Wasn't he wonderful, folks? Let's give him a big round of applause. Make it loud enough and maybe it will bring him back out on stage to sing I Am I Said for us.
Must have had a car waiting. You can't catch a cab out front of here that fast this time of night.
I agree with Ken. We have reason to hope after tonight. Although as MA Peel pointed out early, tonight's episode wasn't written by Aaron Sorkin himself. Which ought to be a clue, AARON!
Trouble is that I think they've used up Jay Mohr's book and apparently nobody's been reading Live From New York which is where the real action is.
That's it for now, gang. Next week our guest host is going to be the ever lovely, ever-loving, everlasting Elayne Riggs of Pen-Elayne, who is going to have to tread lightly around me because next week's guest star is going to be Kari Matchett, the love of my life now that Diane Lane and I have broken up. Matchett, by the way, for those of you who don't know her from the many characters she played on the Nero Wolfe TV show of a few years back, is what Studio 60 keeps trying to tell us Harriet Hayes is, multi-talented and sexy. I don't know her religious persuasion and whether or not she knows it's Revelation not Revelations, but she will burn up the screen.
And she can do voices that aren't cetaceans or barely remembered starlets whose last important movie, unless you count Starsky and Hutch, was released in 1995.
Although...Juliette Lewis was pretty funny when she guest starred on My Name is Earl last season. Maybe if Sorkin had hired her instead of Sarah Paulson...nah...he'd just have had Lewis doing Sarah Paulson impersonations along with dolphin girl.
Also, next week, once again our musical guest will be Sting.
Next week he promises to remember to bring his lute so he doesn't have to borrow a kazoo from one of the girls in the band.
Ok, I'm going to go pop in one of my Nero Wolfe DVDs and watch Kari Matchett flirt with Timothy Hutton's Archie Goodwin. I'm undecided though. Should I watch her flirt as the brunette Lily Rowan or as one of the many blonde femme fatales she played on the series.
I suppose I could watch the episode in which she appeared as both Lily Rowan and as one of the blonde femme fatales.
Goodnight, kids. You can leave the dishes till morning. Just make sure somebody puts the cat out.