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« Studio 60: Once more with feeling | Main | Help! »

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DanK

This is his SECOND show about writing a TV show. And it sounds like it has many of the same ups and downs. The only thing is that the ongoing tension/romance/non-story on Sportsnight featured Felicity Huffman who IS capable of carrying that line.

Also, it sounds like the baseball/basketball Stuart Scott one-liners were easier to punch off and squeeze in the show than real quality SNL punch lines.

For those that didn't watch, Sportsnight also fell into the trap of too much hokum (although when it was Robert Guillame delivering the hokum you could almost excuse it).

Ken Muldrew

I missed the first show but saw it this week. Lance, you are entirely correct about the mystery of having these super-serious, not-even-slightly-funny people write and star in what is alleged to be a hilarious comedy. It just doesn't wash.

I started to get the feeling that it was an allegory that was intended to illustrate the quote from the Bush advisor, "...members of the reality-based community believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality...That's not the way the world really works anymore, We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality." In today's world, we don't need funny people to write or act comedy, it's all created through second order manipulations of peoples' emotions. We use psychology to game the system, and here the system is someone's state of mind once they're mesmerized by the glowing tube.

That thought quickly evolved into the idea that the show was designed to show where Rover and his minions got the notion to "create reality" in the first place, which was from television, where non-funny people are clever enough to make everyone believe that they're funny.

Then again, maybe the show just needs some time to grow on me.

Ralph Hitchens

Lance, your comments are fair and balanced. (!) I concur fully re. Sarah Paulson; there's no "there" there. The main problem I have with Amanda Peet is that she appears too young to have risen to that level; the show needs someone about Steven Weber's age, or even older -- where's Stockard Channing these days? I thought this week's show was interesting because we got glimpses of some of the comedy sketches, so the conceit of an SNL-type show now has some flesh on the bones -- I'd love to see more of the Tom Cruise impersonation. And as an aside, your right that the only day in/day out black character on The West Wing was a glorified valet, but I did yearn, in the early years, for Admiral Fitzwallace to have a meatier, longer-term presence. Alas, it was not to be; damn that Mideast crisis!

John Carney
Unless it turns out that Steven Weber's boss, the owner of the network is Martin Sheen (or Alan Alda), it's highly unlikely that Jordan as she's written would be holding the job she holds.

I thought that Ed Asner, from the dinner party scene in the pilot, was the owner of the network.

harry near indy

hey lance -- nbc will be showing soon, if not already, a sitcom about a snl-like show. btw, i dont' remember the name.

it'll star tina fey, alec baldwin, and tracy morgan. and since it's a sitcom, i bet it'll be funnier than sorkin's show.

i just wonder, in the spirit of curiousity, you're going to comment on that.

monkyboy

I just sat through the first (only?) season of Huff.

It had the same problem as Studio 60.

The only interesting character, Oliver Platt's, wasn't on the screen nearly enough.

Studio 60 will probably be a great show to watch on DVD so you can fast forward through the generic crap to get to the couple minutes from each episode worth watching.

Laura Petrie

A comedy or whatever this is about writing a comedy or whatever that is has been done before. And far better. I may have a slight bias on this, may be engaging in black and white thinking. Got to go now. Putting away the capri pants for fall. Toodles.

Greg

I don't know if Harriet Hayes could have made that joke work, but I know Tina Fey could have. She had a thing where she'd make a slightly lame joke like that one, but then sell it with a slight smirk that said "Hey, I know the joke is lame, but I'm going all the way for it." Kind of like Sideshow Bob and the rakes.

esposito

I like all the Sarah Paulson talk. During this show, I am reminded of her largely forgetable friend character in Down with Love. However, Studio 60's lack of romantic sizzle cannot be blamed on her. I am thinking of that just because you mentioned another show, Deadwood, which made me really like her (in ways one doesn't pine for christians with a sense of humor). As Alma Garrett's nanny with Pinkerton ulterior motives, she was a great character. And the scenes with Adams were sexy hot too.

Frank Weaver

Great to read a serious thought on Studio60 - I also agree with most of your post - watched the program afterwards. Change Peet and Paulson, yes, why not. The joke could have worked that Paulson plays Peets character in an ongoing sketch about the network.

I think that its strengths are going to be in the 'asides' and ripostes between Perry and his partner. Not the Sorkin-speeches. Perry's ability to react as if slowly thinking somewhere deep down and recognizing an idea - sometimes five scenes later. His partner being already two steps ahead, and knowing what it takes for Perry to work. Good setups. Dialog is best because its in the back and forth, with such small gestures that add up because of the pacing.

Its good that side characters are developing, more clear roles. But the story with the blonde girl at the party? Awful scene, dumb dialog, just flat.

The Amanda Peet character is getting even more unbelievable - I married a husband who wanted to take me to sex clubs and.. I was innocent of course, and... Sure. President of a television network. AND were so stupid to imagine this guy won't be on your back forever and ever. SSUUURRE. And the Network did no background check for an EXECUTIVE of her rank.

Instead of her spending all her time transfixed on Studio60s numbers and as an all around developing Angel - Sorkin should have divided her character into a few people, who come in and out of the storyline, allowing competition, intra-managment fights and jealousies and devious planning, backstabbing, all that office stuff that goes with the territory, rather than her angelic life story and ultimate romance.

Sara Paulson - please, be quiet, character I mean. The bear joke - stupid. To show she substituted something workeable with something childish - maybe intended to be naive, innocent christian, healthy humor but was...whats the word, oh yes: infantile. ROOOARR.

It sums up the bad part of Studio60 with her: it wasnt the clearest punchline (huh? bears SHOULD be shot...or we can't understand what bears say? or the newscaster is stupid?) and it wasnt the most creative punchline for that setup. She is laughing at how cute she thinks SHE IS doing that roar - that is all - and she thinks that is the reason for audiences to laugh as well.

So when does she stop doing jokes to save small towns - when they exist in other countries? non-christians? is she studying on world politics to understand each jokes contexts. A dead end.

The best lines are the asides - when Perry is walking and asked why are they throwing out that sketch he says "something about making bread". Or when Amanda Peet goes into his office to insist that he makes fun of her (DUI event) and treat her like anyone else that week (although they didnt make fun of the pilot episode meltdown either for that matter) he said something like "you have big teeth?". His partner plays the facilitator/reactor, always able to play the straight man when necessary. Thats really enough, they dont need to introduce a bunch of extra romance and triangles and "tension" in that way that West Wing or TV does, but could find some fresh angles. Its an ensemble that has enough characters to be busy.

I will say that don't think this third episode had fire in it like the first two, and I think its because the romances are being setup, and they insist on keeping Sara Paulson and Amanda Peet as they are, both UNBELIEVABLE and 2D flat (just compare to Perry and his partner). What options are there - they surprise by playing against type in fact? They have some quandry that challenges their beliefs? Sorkin should just get on with the main characters.

Finally, I really think the best casting has been the Chairman of the network (forgot the actors name -oops). He just delivers perfectly, with a face that can express five different ways all at once. More material his way would overdo a good thing, but he just does what is needed, and controls the situation as soon as he enters.


Bumps

Interesting you should mention an actor switching parts in the same post you mention Deadwood, because that show has done it (more than once, I think) to great effect. Garrett Dillahunt played the guy who shot Wild Bill, and later played Francis Wolcott (Hearst's advance man).

Deadwood and Studio 60 make for an interesting comparison. Both feature incredibly detailed sets and large ensemble casts. But whereas the pacing of Studio 60 is frenetic (I fully expect at some point to see a scene in which all of the actors just shout all of their lines at the same time so that we can move on to the next one faster), Deadwood is almost all planning, triangulating, considering possibilities -- even Bullock and Swearengen, for all their impatience, spend an awful lot of time standing around, or sitting at a table waiting for the Russian guy to read a telegraph. Sorkin can't even make his writer's-block scene from episode 2 last more than 90 seconds (of course he couldn't; the guy's clearly never had writer's block). Matthew Perry pulls his hair a few times, he and Whitford have a little ESP, and the next thing you know -- poof! A mock operetta!

I guess it's pointless to note that Studio 60 has a serious reality problem. First of all, the "funny" stuff isn't funny at all. I don't like Paulson's character, but I'm not ready to blame her. Has DL Hughley been funny yet? Nate Corddry? Corddry, I know, has funny in him.

Second, in what universe does a network exec make national news for anything, much less an old DUI? Since when do throngs of teenagers linger outside wrap parties to get the head writer's autograph?

I think I'm giving up on this show.

Lisa

I'm happy to see I'm not the only one who finds Paulson not funny. She is my biggest problem with the show. She may be a fine actress otherwise, but she is not right for this character.

I do believe Peet's character is based on a real woman exec who was that young when she got the job. Part of the problem may be that Peet looks even younger than she really is. Still, I don't think she's a liability to the necessary suspension of disbelief in the same way Paulson is.

Perry is the best reason to watch the show so far. And, yes, it doesn't help that the show within the show does not appear to be funny and no one recognizes this.

For anyone who hasn't watched Sports Night, I highly recommend getting it on DVD. It is excellent and watching this show only makes me want to watch Sports Night again instead.

Fly on wall

Actually, there's a more accurate name for a comedy that doesn't have many laughs. Saturday Night Live 2006. Compared to this dreck, the bear joke is hilarious.

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