Welcome back for the return of live blogging! I'm not your host, Lance Mannion. Well, I'm not actually Lance Mannion. Lance is out for the night. I'm just a pre-written bit of code Lance has left here to fill in for him for the short bit of introducing tonight's guest host and our special musical guest. (Scroll down to the post below!) I guess you could call me the virtual Lance Mannion.
Thinking about it, it's never really Lance here online anyway, is it? It's just words he's put up to represent him in the virtual world. You only know the virtual Lance. I'm not even the virtual Lance then. I'm the virtual virtual Lance.
And next week, not only will Lance---the actual virtual Lance---not be here but I've got a date. The virtual Lance forgot to make the virtual virtual Lance virtually married. There's no virtual virtual blonde, so I get to play around all I want, and next week I'm going out with this hot bit of bytes I met in an open thread over at Atrios' place. So I guess I'll have to hire a virtual me to fill in for me filling in for Lance. He'll be the virtual virtual virtual Lance.
Good thing there are only a few more episodes of Studio 60 after tonight or this joke could go on ad infinitum.
But I digress.
Let me un-digress.
Like I said, the virtual Lance can't be here tonight to introduce our virtual guest host, the virtual Ken Houghton of Marginal Utility who's returned for one more live-blogging gig. And since the virtual Lance programmed me with a limited vocabulary---but a flexible one. You should see me take a Turing Test! I rock! (Virtual Lance gave me a few phrases that aren't in his vocabulary. Like "I rock!" That's how you know I'm not him when you give me a Turing Test.)---so before I use up all my word choices, let me bring out for your applause, amusement, and investment advisement, ladies and gentlemen....
Thank you, virtual Lance. Let me clear something up:
We’ve been wrong about Sarah Paulson as Kristin Chenoweth.
Now that I have your attention...
For a brief moment, let us consider the final six episodes of Sports Night, the show that put Aaron Sorkin on the television map (source is IMDB; links go to them):
Season 2, Episode 17: Draft Day: Part 1 - It Can't Rain at Indian Wells
Original Air Date: 14 March 2000
The team covers the first round of the NFL draft; Jeremy is nervous about Jenny's visit to the studio.
Season 2, Episode 18: Draft Day: Part 2 - The Fall of Ryan O'Brian
Original Air Date: 21 March 2000
It's the second round of the NFL draft; Jenny visits, and Dan and Casey fight.
Season 2, Episode 19: April Is the Cruelest Month
Original Air Date: 28 March 2000
The network's cutting costs and jobs may be on the line. The staff sit for Passover Seder, and Dan hopes this will afford him the chance to mend a few fences.
Season 2, Episode 20: Bells and a Siren
Original Air Date: 4 April 2000
Natalie has a job interview with Saturday Night Live; Dan hires a publicist.
Season 2, Episode 21: La Forza Del Destino
Season 2, Episode 22: Quo Vadimus
Original Air Date: 16 May 2000
Rebecca returns, Natalie and Jeremy rekindle their relationship, and the network is sold.
Compare these to the capsules
The first two brought the Dan/Casey battle to a head, gave Paula Marshall a bit of screen time, and introduced the term "choreoanimator" to the mainstream. The third was Dan's attempt to make up for asking, on a sports show, why anyone should care about sports. The last two were a nice ending, chances for everyone to take a final ("victory") lap around their character, and featured snippy, if not always snappy, writing (Clark Gregg to Felicity Huffman, roughly: "It's a good show, Dana. You'd have to be an idiot not to be able to make money from Sports Night." I want that on Michael Eisner's tombstone.)
And then there's "Bells and a Siren," in which Natalie Hurley (Sabrina Lloyd as Goddess-to- Geeks, a role she later recapitulated to a lesser degree in Sliders and Ed)—who had shown no talent for comedy or comedy writing to date in the series, and whose attempt at moving to the front of the camera was not well received (“about a year away”)—auditions to write for SNL. And blows them away. She’s offered the job on the spot, with a major raise.
With the possible exception of the moment when Peter Krause told Ted McGinley, “You’re wearing my shirt, Gordon,” it is the single most absurd moment with a major character in the entire series. (Feel free to correct me in comments, if you get too bored with the Show at Hand.)
Because over two seasons, we have seen Natalie as being several things: smart, clever, and sometimes insecure. What we have never seen (of the character) is that she is, or can be, funny.
And we realize—if we had any doubt—that, at best, Sorkin doesn’t know the difference between clever and funny.
Sarah Paulson’s biography may mirror Kristin Chenoweth’s, but the character she is playing is Natalie from Sports Night after she “wowed them” at SNL.
And now we have, apparently, the first of a three-part episode that is more likely to be clever than funny. Will it be as pivotal in its way as the two-part “Draft Day” was? Will Bradley Whitford lying to Amanda Peet about hearing a hearbeat last episode become an irretrievable break in their romance? If Tom’s brother gets the Nick Berg moment Jim Tourelott predicted last week, will he suddenly become bitter about having bought all that body armor? Will D. L. Hughley get laid? Will Rob Lowe show up as another Gage Whitney partner? Will we be able to get through the rest of the season without that damned dolphin-laugh? Can I type anything here that would make anyone care what happens to Matt that doesn't involve Kari Matchett? Would we all rather listen to Lulu go Boom Bang-a-Bang? Can I find the remote before the show starts? And if I just make things up, will it matter?
9:58 - Found the remote; did that baby ultrasound on Scrubs look more like a duodenal ulcer?
9:59 - Over 25 million people watched America's Got Talent last week. That's only about 23.5 million more than watched Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
10:02 - Why can't we see The Action Executive? Ask, and receive! Still drinking!
180/110. She's virtually dead. But at least she has a prayer.
10:10 - Sarah tells a joke. And then regrets causing laughter.
10:12 - Flashback #1. He's right about the East thing. The other key to bowtie tying is that it should be off-line, so people know it's not a clip-on.
10:14 - It's a good question. I know everything I do is try to bother Matt Perry. We probably invaded Afghanistan just for that.
10:16 - Danny Tripp learned everything he knows from the movies. No wonder he's attracted to Jordan. Or maybe Brian Benben.
They still don't know why her blood pressure is high? Why are they worrying about the baby? Not even a Supreme Court Justice could be that stupid, let alone a SportsMed guy.
10:21 We're back. More alcohol, but Tom this time.
Nice to know Tom cares about the rest. Aha! Segue to Afghanistan I.
Are there any women in the room??
Who would ever break a date with her? At least the first one?
K&R. Wonder if this will cost more than the date with
Natalie Kristin Sarah?
One MILLION dollars. Guess so, though what Luke spent in overages that one day should be added in.
The first two commercial breaks included Financial Services companies. So far, nothing over the half-hour hump more than GEICO. Guess those who switched here from In the Line of Fire gave all their money to Fred Thompson's exploratory committee.
The oatmeal goes away in 2001 as well. Maybe it's deliberate; they're now pale imitations of themselves. Sorkin's autobiography.
I had almost forgotten that Sorkin is Jewish. From Scarsdale. Where they have regular pogroms.
NBS just p*ss*d away whatever the excess over the $1MM is. Jack Rudolph, Action Executive, will have to work a few more hours.
Finally: the SportsMed guy treats the problem.
K&R in Latin America has been covered on new shows for years, and we know Busfield pays attention to news while Matt is just catty.
Diana Krall about Oscar Peterson. Next will be Chris Martin on David Gates.
The ER episode reffed by Culture of Truth. Deja vu all over again.
Isn't that a cue line? "There's no way this one goes bad."
10:49 - Jack Rudolph, ACTION Executive!
The drinking has been passed from Jack to Tom to the Man On Duty!
10:50 - Busfield thinking about Sources and Uses of Capital. But JACK IS ON THE JOB!
10:52 - Just Say No!
10:54 - Yes, I recognized John Hiatt immediately. It's an Ex-Hoosier Thing.
10:56 - We spend the first part with JR, AE, telling them to be Jewish, and now she wants him to be Christian. Maybe he needs to try Buddhism.
Any bets on whether, unlike last week, they actually come back with something tonight?
Nope. Again. Anyone told NBC that lies have to be about something important?
I think I'll make the final word here Dan Coyle's comment. Don't break the hologram/virtual Lance. And remember, Man is the Animal Who Laughs. Though what that makes Aaron Sorkin is left as an exercise.
Good morning, gang. This is the non-virtual virtual Lance stepping in to thank Ken for doing another bang-up job taking us through Sorkinville and helping us avoid the tourist traps and tip-toe around the local cops. And thanks to all of you who rode the bus with him and I promise the next time out we'll have a coach with air conditioning or at least one on which the windows actually open.
I haven't watched last night's episode yet. From your comments it sounds like the subplot that would have amazed me is the one about Jordan and her baby. Amanda Peet is a brave woman, and Aaron Sorkin is a ruthless bastard, because I can't imagine any pregnant women I've known agreeing to even pretend there was something going wrong and I can't imagine what kind of heartless writer would, on hearing the news that one of his stars was expecting, thinking, Great, we can do a show about how she might lose the baby!
Matt and Harriet's five year argument over religion isn't being played for laughs? Figures. But it reminds me of something from PG Wodehouse, and anything that reminds me of Wodehouse can't be all bad. This is from The Mating Season:
She didn't like him being an atheist, and he wouldn't stop being an atheist, and finally he said something about Jonah and the Whale which it was impossible for her to overlook. This morning she returned the ring, his letters and a china ornament with `A Present From Blackpool' on it which he had brought her last summer while visiting relatives in the north.
That's all for now. Thanks again, Ken. Remember, folks, we're going to see this thing right through to the bitter end. Come back next week for more live-blogging with our guest host, Pen-Elayne, and special musical guest Donovan!