Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: The West Coast Delay
(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.