Friday, June 29, 2007

Studio 60: We can do better

And so, "Studio 60" comes to an end. Really brief spoilers to follow, as I long ago exhausted everything original I had to say about this show...

So Sorkin correctly read the tea leaves and went with the Everybody Gets a Happy Ending approach, with Jordan waking up (looking like a million bucks and losing whatever shred of dignity she had left by claiming she wanted Danny to marry her from the moment they met), Matt and Harriet getting back together (whatever), and, in the episode's one really nice moment, Tom finding out that his brother and his comrades were rescued. (Who woulda guessed that the two best dramatic actors on this show would be Steven Weber and Corddry the younger?) For the people who liked the show -- which has to be the majority of the audience that stuck it through the ending -- I suppose it wasn't a bad way to go out. For people like me who kept watching out of morbid fascination, it largely confirmed all the reasons I disliked it.

What did everybody else think?

13 comments:

Stacie said...

They really tied all the loose ends up in a pretty bow, didn't they? I'm with you, Alan, I thought that Tom's brother getting rescued was the best moment; however, it was unrealistic, like all the other pretty bows. I'm not in the camp that hated this show...I mostly enjoyed it. But one good thing came of it - I've put all the "Sports Night" DVD's in my Netflix queue to see what you've all been talking about...

TL said...

I thought it was OK. That being said, the second act break "cliffhanger" where the doctor comes to see Danny all ominously, only to come back and we find everything is fine was really indefensible.

Tell me exactly what came to pass between Matt and Harriet last night that couldn't have been worked out 9 months ago?

All in all, not a bad series, but nothing really compelling about it either. Here's hoping Sorkin does better his next time at the plate.

Grim said...

It was a show that I both really liked and really disliked in equal measure (I could have been more verbose there but it wasn't a show that went to either extreme for me), with shifts happening through the course of an hour.

I still think there was a basis for a great show here and there was evidence of it last night in every scene between Whitford and Perry, everything with Weber full stop and the little Sports Night-ish cute moments, such as the scene where Danny was handing out the cigars (except for the Harriet stuff of course).

There were many serious missteps, including making a five hour finale, but I do think that if you were able to go back in time to May last year to give Sorkin a full set of DVDs of the show (along with a bit of truly constructive criticism), we could have had something remarkable.

TuckPendleton said...

I thought the show really hit its stride with the K&R stuff, and left all the silly Studio 60 related stuff behind. Those moments between Tom and James Lesure really had some gravitas, and the scenes just hummed. Even though Sports Night was great, it seems like Sorkin needs something with more meat (a la the West Wing) to really let his talents shine. I would watch the exact same cast in another show penned by Sorkin...something with much higher stakes. (Though I'd never picture Sorkin doing something as over-done as a law show, why not go inside Whitney & Gage, or the side of Whitney & Gage that deals with places like Trask? And you can even bring back Sam Seaborn...)

Cradock said...

I watched it in the spirit of going to the funeral to make sure it's really dead. Two of those resolutions were awfully deus ex machina (deus ex briefcase? deus ex helicopter?), and the Matt-Harriet stuff, both past & present, was making me sympathize with Simon. Cool set, though.

S.L. said...

I watched these burn off episodes in the same sort of way that I watch my favourite football team play out the string on a 4-12 season -- abhorring the bad and finding solace in the few flashes of good that popped up here and there.

Here's hoping Sorkin does a better job "next season".

Tosy And Cosh said...

I still think much of this could have been salvaged had Studio 60 been a long-running news show (a Nightline-like thing) and not a sketch comedy show. Would have let Sorkin embed the political stuff much more cleanly.

Anthony Foglia said...

TuckPendleton said, "Even though Sports Night was great, it seems like Sorkin needs something with more meat (a la the West Wing) to really let his talents shine."

That was definitely a major problem with "Studio 60." The themes he was trying to get across were way too big for the premise, and so they got clumsily shoved in the structure. A lot of the stuff, such as the conflicts with the network, were there on "Sport Night," but whereas they it was about one little show trying to get by, this was about how Hollywood was defending free society. If he toned down the sermonizing, the show would have been better off. (Maybe he needs to stick to half-hour formats so he doesn't have as much time to get on the soapbox.)

This show really fell apart due to Sorkin. I don't think there was a bad actor in the bunch. Sarah Paulson got a lot of slack, but much of that was the writing on the page. And Matthew Perry, with this and his WW guest appearance, proved he belongs in the core of Sorkin's repertory theater.

Seeing that last scene between Matt and Danny made me wish Sorkin wrote that show, a show based on the two buddies, rather than a cliche TV romantic plot combined with constant editorializing.

TL said...

(Though I'd never picture Sorkin doing something as over-done as a law show, why not go inside Whitney & Gage, or the side of Whitney & Gage that deals with places like Trask? And you can even bring back Sam Seaborn...)

There might be something there. I haven't watched any legal shows since "The Practice" went off the rails in its penultimate season, but it seems to me like the legal drama could be ripe for reinterpretation from the dominant David E. Kelley model.

Gabriel said...

I still think much of this could have been salvaged had Studio 60 been a long-running news show (a Nightline-like thing) and not a sketch comedy show. Would have let Sorkin embed the political stuff much more cleanly.

That makes too much sense. Way, way too much sense.

DanteHicks said...

I think Tuck nailed it. WW worked because the stakes were higher. You could buy into the over-the-top dialog & performances because what they were talking about mattered.

Here, not only did it not matter (even when the issue was important, the context of a comedy show) you didn't care. These people weren't fighting for anything.

WW was our fantasy of what the Clinton administration would be absent Monica & other 'gates' & it was told at a time when there was a segment of the population looking for an alternative to the current reality.

Here, nobody's really looking for an alternative to SNL. If they were, S60 would not be it because - and this is important - IT WAS NEVER FUNNY!

SJ said...

I'll just add that I found the finale (and the show) to be absolutely awful. As someone who has never watched a Sorkin show before (including the West Wing), I don't think I'd even bother looking at his other work.

If the show had kept the light, comedic feel of the pilot it would have been much better. Instead all the male and female leads turn out to be pathetic characters (especially Jordan...wtf????).

Only when Weber was involved was the drama worth watching....the hackneyed story of Tom and his brother getting captured really was unrealistic and needless...Sorkin just had to get a shot at Bush didn't he? Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Stacie - don't bother putting Sports Night in your Netflix queue. Run to Target and buy the box set. You're going to like it enough to need to own it.