"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Studio 60: The Disaster Show

I've had my problems with Studio 60. It had so much potential that it squandered! It was like a kid who, during freshmen year had a 4.0, started varsity on the soccer team and was elected king of the freshmen dance, and by junior year he's dropping acid in the parking lot with Bender from the Breakfast Club. I just want to take the show by its collar and say, "What's your problem? You had it all! A great timeslot, network support, quality actors in every single supporting role, and probably the best pilot of the last ten years! How the hell did you get canceled!?"

The one part of the show, though, that was perfect, was the relationship between Matt and Danny. Even during the worst stretches of the show's short history, I could count on a few lines of sparkling dialog between the two of them to keep me watching.

Aaron Sorkin must realize this, right? With the number of references to blogs and YouTube on the show, he's got to be aware of those things and what people are saying about the show. He's got to realize that through all the problems people have had with his flawed brainchild, Matt and Danny was the one thing that we were all sure absolutely 100% worked 100% of the time!

So why... why would he give us a show where they don't appear once? I don't get it. Good as the supporting cast is (and Timothy Busfield and Steven Weber turned in their usual excellent performances), watching this episode, especially after going so long without a Studio 60 fix, was like going to a Beatles concert and hearing only George and Ringo songs.

That was my only major complaint tonight in what was otherwise a very solid offering. I guess since it had been gone for so long and had been produced with the foreknowledge that its cancellation was imminent, I was hoping that it would come out with both guns blazing and really show the world what it was missing. Instead I got a fairly forgettable mid-season episode that is more disappointing than it would have been because of the outside baggage.

That being said, here's what I loved tonight:
  • Drunk Jack and the reference to When a Stranger Calls.
  • The unflappable Cal. Wouldn't you like to be that chipper in the face of adversity?

Here's what I liked tonight:

  • D.L. Hughley and Nate Corddry. In the absence of Matt and Danny, they make a fine replacement.
  • Robbie's friend Robby.
  • Nate Torrence getting a bit more to do as Dylan.
  • Allison Janney as herself. Though the events surrounding the disaster show were not nearly as wacky and farcical as Sorkin probably thought, Janney was a fine mark for all the misdeeds. Her moment with Cal at the end was pretty good too, and a nice nod to the fact that at the end of the day, it is just a funky little Friday night sketch show.
  • The wink from Jeannie and the rest of the cast that everyone was fed up with Matt and Harriet. I'm not sure, but it felt like an acknowledgment that the entire world hated that forced romantic comedy.
  • The German Shepherd that only spoke German.

Here's what I didn't like:

  • The sketches.
  • The aforementioned absence of Danny and Matt.

Here's what I hated:

  • It's a small thing, but what is it with Sorkin and crappy sitcom situational comedy? There was the silly Danny and Jordan trapped on a roof scenario that seemed like it belonged on Night Court fifteen years ago, and then, tonight, there was the Three's Company-like double slap to Simon. Maybe I'm not smart enough to get it... is he parodying these conventions? Making a homage to them? How can a writer this smart seem so intent on putting such stupid situations in his show?

No comments: