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October 13, 2015

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: The West Coast Delay

by Bob Sassone, posted Oct 9th 2006 11:29PM

D.L. Hughley(S01E04) Unlike many people, I like the Harriet Hayes character. And I like the way that Sarah Paulson is playing her. It's a distinctive performance: very precise in her delivery, graceful, even when she's yelling about something or irritated. And she's a very religious person, but one that's on a late night show doing satire. I don't see anything wrong with what she's doing or how she's written. I actually find the way she acts really believable. I know people like Harriet Hayes.

Having said that, I didn't really enjoy the opening scene of this show. I thought that (for the most part) Matt and Harriet had made up an episode or two ago. And I thought the argument (Matt's upset that Harriet gets a signed bat from a pitcher) was a little too forced, and I thought the Matt and Harriet love plot was going to take over the entire show. But then something happened in this episode, around the 19 minute mark, like something snapped and the episode started to soar, started to click, and showed how dramatic the backstage goings on at a TV show can be.

While Matt goes to see one of the Pussycat Dolls Bombshell Babies that he knows to get a boot signed, to make Harriet jealous (he abandons the idea), one of the writers comes up with a killer editorial for the news part of Studio 60. Matt and the cast really like it, and it seems that everything is okey-dokey between Matt and Ricky and Ron.

But after the show airs on the east coast, the writer friend (Christine Lahti, being very C.J. Gregg-ish) of Jordan's who is doing a piece on the show for Vanity Fair finds a video on the web of a comic doing the same exact bit at a comedy club a year ago. Uh oh, this could be trouble. I swear that TV Squad had nothing to do with it.

To stop a possible lawsuit and accusations of plagiarism, the gang decides to cut into the taped West Coast show with a new live news broadcast, explaining who wrote the show (Lenny Gold) and apologizing for saying it was original. The live update goes flawlessly. But during the next commercial break, they find out that the show was actually written by someone else! Simon and Harriet have to go live again and explain who really wrote it.

At the end, Rick and Ron find out the truth: the show was written by that person when he was a writer on the show for one season, in 1991. Simon and Harriet have to go on the air live one more time...

I don't know if a show like SNL would even bother going on the air live three times to update something (once, maybe twice, but three confusing times? It would start to look like a running joke, which maybe would be a funny thing), but I didn't really have a problem with the plot. It created some tension and showed the cast working together to right a wrong. Which is something that The West Wing did in every episode (though this ep had a very Sports Night vibe to it). And for all you people who say that this stuff isn't as important or life-altering or world-altering as The West Wing plots, I say "no shit." But why does it have to be? Can't we be involved in the workplace drama and comedy of it all? Can't we be involved in the characters? Can't we be interested in the plot, how they're going to fix this problem in the news sketch without thinking "hey, this isn't politics or war or the economy like on West Wing! Why should we care?" Please, what a lame argument and a lame thing to worry about. They're not changing the world on Entourage, The Office, or Desperate Housewives either. And that's just fine.

I really like the attitude, pace, writing, and cast of this show. I said it before, it's really unlike anything else on TV, and it's one of the very few shows that I look forward to seeing live and not just in my TiVo. (And isn't it oddly thrilling to see Matthew Perry, the star of a major TV show, actually smoking?)

Oh, and the sketches. As I said before, this isn't a show that's just about the on-air comedy sketches that the NBS version of Studio 60 puts on, so I don't care that they don't show a lot of them. In fact, it's hard to write brilliant comedy, so if they showed a lot of the comedy sketches, it would lessen the impact of the show. I don't have to see the sketches to believe they are good and that the show is a hit again.

Having said that, I think the idea of Meet The Press with Juliette Lewis is pretty damn funny.

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Steve Moris

Love the show, but I have to say:
OK, this is a bit ironic, but I am a comic who has a very similar bit to the one fictionalized in the Studio 60 episode. When I watched it, I couldn't believe it, passing it off as "there's nothing new under the sun" sort of thing...but the ADD concept was so close to mine it made me upset. Also, I do happen to have video of me doing the bit a long time ago. The DVD I sell Steve Moris; "Look a Yellow Bird" is based on ADD (which has the similar bit to which I'm referring)and so there are several thousand witnesses (especially on Princess Cruises or The Comedy Store) who could attest to this. Instead, I'll let it go. I only wish I can get a crack at the networks one of these days. All in all, I'm a fan however of the show (although I keep expecting the characters to "walk" into the west wing during one of their token Sorkin dialogues)... now THAT could be a funny SNL skit.
Steve Moris

December 01 2006 at 5:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love the show sometimes it goes so fast you miss something and you need someone else to watch with you so that you get it all. I like the walking (talk) between Danny & Mat and I can even stand Harriet. I did not think much of the Choir thing on the 1st one but last nights was good. It will be hard to come up with something each week but hopefully they will be able to pull it off. Would hate to see this one get cancelled.

October 12 2006 at 12:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

> Too bad they are exhibiting the kind of unforgivable irresponsible behavior as having their lead character smoking on tv.

So tell us what you thought of Tina Fey driving drunk on 30 Rock ...

October 12 2006 at 5:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
matthew m. barnes

i don't know if anyone's reading this anymore at this point, but did nobody catch that the writing a book about Jordan plotline was taken straight from the West Wing? they even had the same conversation about it. someone wrote a book about the White House staff and they made up a bunch of crap and the conversation about "why don't you put out a list of what's true and what's not true?" was had.

as far as the funny... yes it's a drama. but so was the West Wing. and the first four seasons had a LOT of funny in them. a LOT more than this show. (when the funny went away... when Sorkin went away... that's when WW went downhill.) i would like to see a little more funny.

October 12 2006 at 3:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
christine dix

yeah,like kids don,t see smoking anywhere else. Please let kids have some level of intellegence. People do smoke in real life, and if I remember correctly President Bartlett smoked as well

October 11 2006 at 3:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jonny Rice

"You might as well have Perry having unprotected sex with Aids victims."

Sounds like someone has the beginnings of a spec script for Nip/Tuck!

October 11 2006 at 4:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dr. Robert Kramer

A show that operates on the edge which is good for the public. Your public exhibition of smoking, however, is reprehensible, and will be the indirect cause of deaths. Youth are easily persuaded by the actions of stars. Would you promote unprotected sex with Aids victims? Do you not realize that you are more likely to die from smoking than any other act?

Your actions are irresponsible and immorale. Clean up your act. We are working on a boycott of your show, unfortunately, because it is a great show. Too bad you couldn't take your public responsibility seriously.

October 11 2006 at 12:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dr. Robert Kramer

Studio 60 is a clever edgy show. Too bad they are exhibiting the kind of unforgivable irresponsible behavior as having their lead character smoking on tv. Youth are persuaded by and emulate the behavior of actors. Allowing Matthew Perry to smoke will lead to the premature deaths of thousands if not millions of youth. Smoking is still the number one killer. You might as well have Perry having unprotected sex with Aids victims.

October 11 2006 at 12:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As much as I wanted to like Studio 60, after four episodes, I can see why it's rapidly bleeding viewers: the series is inconsistent, and its frenetic pace just masks its weaknesses. There are too many characters and too much cleverness trying too hard. The suspension of disbelief necessary to buy into Sorkin's alternate TV reality just isn't there. A show about a comedy series should at least be somewhat believably funny. Do we really need the same lame joke repeated three times?

October 11 2006 at 12:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What else can be said, this show is the best 42min on TV!
For those that keep finding reasons that they don't like it, I have one question. Why are you watching it? Maybe you like it more than you thought. I can't see any other reasons why you would tune in week after week, after all there is surely a "Law & Order", Or "C.S.I." ready to thrill you with their real life plots, and original scripts...lol

October 10 2006 at 11:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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