Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Studio 60: Apparently, that's all there is

"Studio 60" spoilers coming right up...

So was that the last we'll see of this show on NBC's airwaves? There are still six episodes either in the can or in the process of being made, and a lot of time left in the TV season for some other NBC show to fail and create a hole in the schedule. Hell, "Black Donnellys" could wind up doing an even worse number next week and we'll see "Studio 60" back on Mondays in a month. TV is a wacky, wacky business, though the wackiness Sorkin has generally tried to depict is more of the headless baby doll variety than the capriciousness of both the public and network executives.

The nice people at Throwing Things are doing a post-mortem on where Sorkin went wrong in general, but I feel like I've done that 15 or 16 times already, so I'll just stick to this episode.

Start with Matt's bad crack in the schoolyard hallucinations, which last week were considered a major M. Night Shyamalan-level crisis, and here were quickly turned into a joke about Matt's ultimate sexual fantasy appearing in front of him right before the opening titles began. And, frankly, I think the lawyer (from Sam Seaborn's old firm of Gage Whitney) would have worked better as a figment, because her omniscience about all things Matt got old in a big damn hurry.

Then there was the suggestion that Harriet Hayes -- the beautiful, allegedly talented, allegedly beloved star of a broadcast TV network's flagship series -- can boil her romantic choices in life down to two men: the immature bullying ass, or the immature bullying ass. If I was Harriet, I'd be playing that Anita Pallenberg scene for real. If the kiss at the end was supposed to seem like Harriet following Danny's suggestion and humoring Matt, it worked; if it was supposed to convey any kind of real feeling between the two of them, not so much.

And, of course, the notion that the writers' room thrives on Samuel Taylor Coleridge trivia contests, or that Matt's only problem with a sketch about the Freemasons would be their inability to do research on it. I'm sure the folks in Bristol had some fun pointing out the inaccuracies and dramatic license in "Sports Night," but "Studio 60" must be one non-stop drinking game for the people who work at 30 Rock (either the address or the show).

Finally, there's Jordan buying a robot baby and not even acknowledging the fact that, with her schedule and income, a nanny's going to be doing the bulk of the child-rearing. The bit where Danny left the room and Tom immediately started holding the doll upside down by the ankle was funny, though, as were the eyes bugging out and scaring the bejeesus out of Jordan.

The sexual harassment story, inspired no doubt by a lawsuit from a woman who worked on Matthew Perry's last TV series, at least felt like something relevant to what this show is kinda sorta supposed to be about, as well as something that might turn into an interesting two or three-episode runner if NBC sees fit to bring it back. In particular, I liked Matt's acknowledgment that, while he wouldn't allow that kind of talk in his writers' room, other perfectly funny shows would. If nothing else, maybe Evan Handler and Carlos Jacott will pop up on the inevitable DVD.

What did everybody else think?

13 comments:

Abbie said...

I'm glad it's over, at least for now.

Anonymous said...

Alan, I'm going to miss the show just for your post-mortems every Tuesday morning. I realized about 5 or 6 episodes ago that I looked forward more to your entertaining rip jobs than I did the episodes themselves. While I never hated the show to the extent that everyone else seemed to, I do hope that NBC airs the remaining episodes and not on some burn-off Saturday or on its website. I guess that depends on how Black Donnelleys does.

Fred App said...

Since nothing about the "Black Donnellys" promos interests me in the least (it looks like "The Sopranos" built for network TV), I look forward to having my Mondays at 10 p.m. free again.

The only thing I can think of saying about last night's episode is: As awful as "Jason the Mason" sounded, it had to be better than a sketch built around a punchline about a paramecium.

Louis said...

Goodbye, stinkbomb.

J said...

Switched away before it even started. At last, I'm cured!

When did Tiffany Thiessen lose the "Amber?" Is it off romping around with Rick Schroeder's "-y"?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Dunno about Thiessen, but Schroder is going back to Ricky for his billing on "24." He's always preferred people to call him that; he just went with Rick for professional purposes at the suggestion of his management.

Matt said...

When did Kubla Khan pass Rime of the Ancient Mariner as "Coleridge's best-known work?" Strikes me that something could have been made out of that.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Matt, you actually wanted more Coleridge discussion?

Devin McCullen said...

Maybe it was a Douglas Adams shout-out. I didn't know the end of Dirk Gentley's Holistic Detective Agency was based on actual historical events, although it makes sense.

And I think it would have been funny if someone made Matt's point to Matt and ruined his analogy.

Adam said...

We actually had to do our post-mortem now on account of our self-imposed Sorkin Silence, but now that there's no show left to not-critique, we decided to lift it early.

Matt said...

I don't know--I think you could have had some amusing bickering between Matt and somebody about whether Kubla Khan or Rime was better known, with an albatross joke. Reminscent of Jed Bartlett arguing with Toby.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how it would have ended if it was supposed to be the last episode....not that I care, I just wonder.

So, Alan, have you seen The Black Donnelleys? Is it a worthy replacement?

bill said...

The few comedians I've known spent most of their time blowing bong bubbles and memorizing Monty Python skits, not quoting Coleridge.

I never got the sense that Sorkin cared about these characters, so why should we? Also, I try not to conflate a writer with the work, but this sure gave off the stink of someone who despised TV and the people who watched TV.

To quote 30 Rock's Kenneth: Do you know why I put up with this pitiful job, Mr. Donaghy? Why I fetch these folks' lunches and clean up their barfs? Because they make television. And more than jazz, or musical theater, or morbid obesity, television is the true American art form. Think of all the shared experiences television has provided us. From the moon landing, to the Golden Girls finale. To Walter Cronkite denouncing Viet Nam. To Oprah, pulling that trashbag of fat out in a wagon. From the glory and the pageantry of the summer Olympics, to the less fun Winter Olympics. So please, don't tell I don't have a dream, sir. I am living my dream.