Saturday, October 21, 2006

Whither Studio 60...?

NBC has decided not to rerun the Studio 60 pilot on October 30 in favor of airing a new episode of Friday Night Lights in S60's timeslot. Since Heroes has emerged as a bonafide hit (and is showing signs that it might actually turn into a good show), NBC can hardly be blamed for wanting a lead-out that can actually hold onto (or God forbid, build on) Heroes' audience.

Studio 60 does return with a new episode the following Monday, November 6, and (at least for now), it will remain in place for November Sweeps. Two of those episodes, "Nevada Parts I & II," will guest-star John Goodman (not as guest-host, so--presumably--he'll be playing someone other than "John Goodman.") One of the upcoming musical guests will be Jessica Simpson, who apparently once asked Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton if her job was to redecorate the White House. (Does this mean they're attempting to court stupid people?)

So it's not dead yet, but it's still hemhorragging viewers. Those Alpha Consumers? Seems they've got Buyer's Remorse.

And I'm one of 'em. :( The show just isn't working.

Amanda Peet sucks--She murders every scene she's in, every kick-ass line she's given. She's got one mode: deer with its eyes caught in the headlights. It's like she's on xanax. (I'm still reeling that the people who cast Allison Janney and Janel Moloney--and Felicity Huffman--said to themselves, "Amanda Peet--Yes." WTF?)

And Matthew Perry isn't that much better.

I like that Matt & Harry's relationship--which at first seemed to be mythologizing Sorkin and Kirsten Chennoweth and now seems to be mythologizing Bill Murray and Gilda Radner. Now, that's more interesting. That's the good kind of "write what you know"-- take your experience and let it inform characters based on other people, so when you tell stories that highlight how smart and great and cool these people are, you're not actually patting yourself on the back on national television.

And there are other problems, not least of which is the writing. The action will suddenly grind to a halt for a Sting number, or there will be four endings, as in "Focus Group," which was otherwise the strongest episode so far. But it turned suddenly--and surprisingly--saccharine with a montage at the Wrap Party set to the Shirelle's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" that culminated with Matthew Perry ... getting in his car and driving away.

Don't get me wrong: I respect that he's in over his head... He's not playing it safe, and I hope he turns it arond. But it's starting to feel like this whole project will be remembered as a Sorkin-shaped hole in the wall.

As for where they're going . . . E! Online's Kristen is reporting that Peet's pregnancy will be written into the show after all, and Brad Whitford gives a quote that makes it sound like he's lobbying to be the daddy. (They were clearly headed there with those two characters anyway, so it doesn't seem like a leap.)

I'm hoping they use her pregnancy to tip off of a storyline that ends up with McDeere out...

...Which would let them bring in a high-profile new female lead to take Peet's place... promote the hell out of it... and hope to generate a second-look audience for her debut. Might be Studio 60's best shot at remaining a going concern.

So... Since Mary Louise Parker's busy, what's Allison Janney doing these days? (Or would that just make it worse?)

8 Comments:

Blogger Blobby said...

There are bigger issues - like Aaron Sorkin stealing his own West Wing ideas from almost a decade ago:

- a Vanity Fair article
- a former drug addicted head of show (or state)
- the christian right

..and it escapes me now, but phrases of exact dialouge from West Wing episodes.

It's not working. I want it to - but it's not. Alec Baldwin would be better off in Studio 60 than 30 Rock. Then it might have a better chance.

10/23/06, 9:32 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

He *is* doing that, but not ideas--*subplots*. e.g., on Sports Night, Dana dated the anti-Casey, a professoinal athlete who turned out to be a womanizing asshole.

I have to say, I really liked "Wrap Party" - I thought it was the best episode yet. Matt Perry seems to be getting up to speed -- he nailed the comedic (groupies) and dramatic (the Simon subplot) material.

Nate Corddry's and Tim Bulsfield's subplots were very interesting -- albeit exposition-heavy.

The dialogue was had snap -- Ironically, the first episode where there were no sketches was the funniest one they've done.

Unfortunately, Amanda Peet still stinks up the place.

10/24/06, 10:45 PM  
Blogger Michael Hartney said...

I am loving nearly every second of this show. Monday's was indeed the best yet. Nate Corddry is awesome. And DL Hughley is doing the work of his career. Not that it wasn't without faults: the bimbo triplets were so unrealistically stupid, and the show is still suffering from the "see, this is good art, and this is bad art" trap of the good art not looking so good.

I actually dig Amanda Peet. And Matthew Perry. God, I want this show to succeed. It makes me so excited about writing and performing comedy...I just want to be there.

And I didn't see "West Wing", so I have no idea what's being ripped off.

10/25/06, 2:51 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

"Nate Corddry is awesome."

And delicious. I just want to stuff him in my backpack and take him everywhere. Possibly leashes would be involved.

"And DL Hughley is doing the work of his career."

That subplot had be riveted -- and made me pretty damn uncomfortable. That's how I knew it was working.

"Not that it wasn't without faults: the bimbo triplets were so unrealistically stupid."

Are you kidding? The single best thing this show has done, IMO.

That threaded punchline--"What does the writer do?"--had me howling every time.

"I'm fascinated!" "...Me, too."

"Treasure/Trinket."

"We've been dating inside the rock scene, but we're looking for men who are more mature" -- this, while they're standing in front of *Matt* and *Danny*.

"Have you met Simon Stiles?" "He WORKS for me!"

"and the show is still suffering from the "see, this is good art, and this is bad art" trap of the good art not looking so good."

This is why you should see West Wing -- It was funnier. Not that the jokes were better, per se (often, the jokes are the same), but they come off funnier because it's a super-serious setting. We don't *expect* it to be funny. Here, that expectation is reversed--and that's why so many Sorkin fans are complaining that the show isn't funny. (For the record, I think they're wrong--The show is hysterical, and several of the sketches have been brilliant -- the musical number, the Nancy Grace parody, etc).

"I want this show to succeed. It makes me so excited about writing and performing comedy...I just want to be there."

Understandable, but it would be a mistake to get too attached. The show is still hemhoragging viewers, and NBC hasn't ordered the back 9. May not make it past mid-season, let alone to Season 2.

"And I didn't see "West Wing", so I have no idea what's being ripped off."

Nothing is being *ripped off*, but he's the same storyteller with the same bag of tricks. I'm sure you understand.

10/25/06, 7:51 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

FYI -- you and Michal hartney are in a fight. It's you're fault because you didn't say goodbye to him last night. I think it might come to blows next time you guys are in the same room together.

I can't wait to see what happens!

10/26/06, 10:22 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

I *looked* for him. He had been stadning right next to you five minutes before. :(

Maybe we can have a blog-feud. Or, better yet, we could mud-wrestle.

10/26/06, 2:41 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Pretty ladies such as the two of you should not soil themselves with mudwrestling... perhaps Jello...

10/26/06, 2:51 PM  
Blogger Baylor said...

Thought you should know, you've been quoted.

http://theworkingchair.com/boxclocke/2006/11/party-night-in-hollywood-studio-60.html

:D

11/7/06, 12:50 AM  

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