Spoilers for "Studio 60" coming up just as soon as I ask my wife why she chose the violin over the viola...
Well, that was less hateable than it was flat and labored. I used to complain about the 30-minute length of "Sports Night," that every time an episode was really building up a head of steam, they had to roll credits. This was the opposite, a thin idea stretched out beyond interest. Maybe as a single episode, it would have worked better, but there isn't remotely two hours worth of story here.
I wasn't wild about "The West Coast Delay," but at least when that one shifted into Murphy's Law farce, it moved like one. "Nevada Day Part I" just limped along, filling in details to explain the in media res opening at a pace suggesting an Abe Simpson story involving an onion on his belt (which, in fairness, was the style at the time). Outside of Tom's reaction to the dog sniffing out the joint, I don't even think I cracked a smile, let alone laughed, at any of this. And what was with Matt's voiceover summarizing everything we just saw at the end of the show? That's the sort of narrative spoonfeeding you save for the beginning of part two, not the end of part one. It was so clumsy and pointless that I would assume it was the result of a network note if I didn't know that Sorkin's deal banned all network notes.
The previews for this episode had me going to the store to stock up on anti-nausea medication to deal with Sorkin using the John Goodman character as a red state punching bag, but I have to admit that the character wasn't nearly as annoying as I had feared. When Sorkin introduced Goodman as Glenallen Walken in his "Screw you, Wells!" farewell to "The West Wing," there was that one bit where Walken broke down the origins of World War I, and I thought, "Huh. That sounded not dissimilar to a lecture Bartlet might have given." Wells quickly turned Walken into a cartoon (also with a dog), but Sorkin seems to understand how to use Goodman to create a non-strawman Republican character.
The wordiness of Sorkin's attempts at sketch comedy make it impossible to tell whether his ideas might work with someone else writing them, but the fact that Danny trashed the Jesus sketch doesn't make up for how long we had to sit through the read through of the thing. The creative process is only interesting viewing if we get to see when, how and why a sketch goes from troubled to funny, and Sorkin has proved himself incapable of getting to Point B on that.
Lots of leftover problems from earlier episodes, whether it's the continued references to "Search and Destroy" as a smash hit in the making to Sorkin's misguided belief that anyone without a Variety subscription would care about Jordan's sex life and Jordan's complete political naivete, which Jack nicely illustrated on the plane with Danny. But the only time I was actually motivated to yell at the TV was the hint that Tom had an important reason for speeding. Maybe Sorkin will prove me wrong with some unexpectedly moving reveal in part two, but what's wrong with the guy just doing some reckless driving?
Meh -- which, for this show, is arguably a step up. What did everybody else think?