"Studio 60" spoilers just as soon as I can get Aaron Sorkin to quit clubbing me over the head with the clue-by-four...
Hey, on the plus side, we didn't have to sit through sketches that weren't funny (though, apparently, Matt has now written Commedia Dell'Arte into three of the four episodes since he took over, because that's not remotely hacky at all), and Lauren Graham got fractionally more to do than the week before. (In fairness, she probably just ran over to the "Studio 60" soundstage on lunch breaks, so I doubt they could have given her a major role, but it was a waste.)
On the downside, Simon wasn't the only person who could see every. single. line. coming before it did. As soon as Eli Wallach wandered in, I knew he had worked in the building and waited in increasing frustration for the lightbulb to turn on above Cal's head. As soon as Jordan asked Darren to sign the ball, I knew he wrote his phone number. As soon as Matt and Simon walked out on the first comic, I knew they would wind up discovering another black comedian who was more their speed. (Did you catch the guy making a reference to 19th century madrigals as Matt was trying to shut Simon up? That's only a hop, skip and a jump away from the Commedia Dell'Arte! Kindred spirits, baby!) About the only thing I didn't call in advance was that Tom's brother was fighting in Afghanistan; I assumed it was a "Stand By Me" situation where the favorite son died. Aaron's not the most subtle writer even on his best days, but the entire hour was thuddingly obvious.
And since I didn't have any sketches to drive me up a wall (save the Commedia references at the top), I had to take comfort in the paint-by-numbers characterizations: the Midwestern parents who are such sheltered rubes that they've never even heard of "Who's on First?," or the cheap black comic who tells the kinds of jokes Homer Simpson was laughing at 15 years ago ("We are sooooo lame!") and yet is somehow considered promising enough that Bud Friedman invited Simon to watch him, or Simon revealing himself to be a character from "Boyz N the Hood" or "Juice," or the bimbettes who want to break into the business but don't understand what a writer does. And, of course, Jordan turning into Aaron's classic Seemingly Tough Professional Woman who's really just a big, messy ball of mush. Swell.
There were some promising ideas at work here, but the execution made them all seem like the sort of thing Beavis and Hackboy might dream up. Speaking of which, where are those guys? Or Young Aaron Sorkin, whose "West Wing"-esque "Nations" led to the one genuinely funny scene, with Jack hassling Danny? Will we start getting new Sorkin stand-ins every week until the show becomes, as my friend Phil joked, like that scene in "Being John Malkovich" where Malkovich goes inside his own head? Sorkin. Sorkin. Sorkin? SORKIN!!!!!!!
I could rant more at length, but I have to get back to "Prime Suspect." So what did everybody else think?