Monday, October 02, 2006

First Impression: Studio 60

I saw about seven minutes of “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” tonight, and I don’t think I’m going to be a big fan, even though I loved Aaron Sorkin’s last two shows, “Sports Night” and “The West Wing.” First of all, it’s filmed almost exactly like “The West Wing,” from the camera movement to the lighting to the tenor of the actors’ interactions. I know it was a successful formula, but come on. Throw in a small difference, just to humor us. (The similarities between “Sports Night” and “The West Wing,” while definitely present, didn’t seem nearly as exact.)

More importantly, though, the very first scene I saw involved a writer on the fictional show (modeled after “Saturday Night Live,” for those of you reading this from under various rocks) defending the removal of a joke because of the way it unnecessarily demeans hardworking middle Americans. And I realized two things: 1. That Sorkin was going to awkwardly airlift some of the earnest political discussion from his previous project into the new one; and 2. That “Studio 60” is probably going to be 20 times better than “Saturday Night Live,” and therefore kind of absurd. In other words, if I thought for a second that the folks at SNL were taking their job as seriously as Sorkin is taking it, I’d have an easier time keeping a straight face while watching “Studio 60.”

That’s just an initial take.


Blogger Jamal Alsaffar said...

I can't tell whether you like the show, feel guilty for liking it, or just don't like it.

I've seen the first three shows and I like it. I think Josh Lyman's character is clerverly disguised. Josh with glasses on his forehead--makes all the difference. But as a fan of Sportsnight and West Wing I just don't care if the same model is being pushed at me except with different background scenes and funny impressions on the side. I could watch the fast talking obscure referencing banter all night. And there's something about Amanda Peet.

4:35 PM  
Blogger JMW said...

I can't tell either, so don't feel bad.

I agree about Peet, and about Sorkin (I really, really liked thos last two series). So I'm sure I'll be fine with it. That kill-the-joke-to-save-the-Midwesterners'-feelings was just a strange entry point -- it was literally the first thing I saw, and it just rang terribly false. I'm sure in the flow of an episode, I would have overlooked it more.

Can you tell I have too much time on my hands?

5:03 PM  
Anonymous PWW said...

I think your take is right on, John, and
I watched the whole thing (but had
trouble staying away towards the end).

8:18 PM  
Anonymous PWW said...

I meant to say I had trouble staying "awake"...

8:19 PM  
Blogger MAW said...

Personally, I liked the pilot a lot, but the last two episodes have been just okay. Like you said, the actors on the show seem to take their job so damned seriously that it seems a bit silly to me; they're supposed to be comedians after all - shouldn't they be joking around all the time?

But, with that said, the show does seemt to be better than 70% other shows.

8:47 PM  
Blogger Jamal Alsaffar said...

I have no idea how I have the time what with two toddlers. I just don't sleep as much as I should. Which may be the reason I like the show. I'm not awake enough to critique it probably. But "maw"'s point that comedians should be funny, instead of serious is interesting. One of the reasons I like the show is that most of the respectable, insightful, genius comedians are quite serious, intelligent (that would be the "genius" part), well read, insecure, and often depressive. In truth, I feel the "seriousness" of the characters just authenticates the show even more. Most comedians are neurotic messes. Lenny Bruce anyone? Dave Chappelle turning down 50 million on "principle." Richard Pryor constantly dealing with his Demons; Andy Kaufman, Belushi, the list is endless.

The dichotomy of on screen persona v. off screen reality adds realistic depth to the show. But, it is still like watching west wing with a drum trap set. That I hope will change in time. I'll keep watching.

3:49 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home