Spoilers for the latest "Studio 60" coming up just as soon as I figure out how Sorkin and company could have possibly squandered Jenna Fischer's presence by failing to put her in a scene, even for five seconds, opposite Lucy Davis...
Last week's show was a budget-saver, minus the three leads and so self-contained that it could be aired at any point in the season (according to the production number, it was shot near the end of the season). So this episode was the real continuation of where we left off back in February, and even though I disliked almost all of it, I'm having a problem working up the passion to bash it. At this point -- especially when you have episodes like this that were clearly written after the real "Studio 60" ratings went into freefall and all the critics turned on Sorkin -- it'd be like kicking a dead horse, beating a sick puppy, or whatever cliche you want to choose.
That said, while the problems are the same as usual -- Danny is a smug, obnoxious hypocrite; the sketches are terrible; Mary the lawyer has even less chemistry with Matt than Harriet does (though I'm glad Sorkin can write irrational female stalkers as well as he does irrational male ones), etc. -- what's interesting (if predictable) was the part that worked: the last three or four minutes with Tom and his brother, which was so dramatically effective I almost resisted the urge to make a joke about how he was captured while STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF AFGHANISTAN!
Almost everything was just right -- Nate Corddry's performance, the editing, the use of silence and point of view shots, etc. -- except the show they were being used on. Simply put, this storyline feels like it has no place on a show set backstage at a latenight sketch comedy series, even if it's supposed to be a dramatic treatment of that world. This felt like Sorkin, under siege from the network, the critics and the fans, retreating back to familiar territory, even if it doesn't fit at all with what he's been trying to do.
The ratings actually took a minute uptick from last week's showing (from horrific to just putrid), so maybe the final episodes will all see the light of day -- especially if Ben Silverman is too busy making big-picture changes to care about the summer schedule. What did everybody else think?