Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: Breaking News
Now that I've laid all my cards on the table, on with the review...
A few notes before we begin (there's about 500 words to follow regarding some relatively random thoughts about Studio 60. For those of you who find long, rambling blogs "boring," you might want to just skip right own down to where the actual review part begins).
1) I've been noticing that Studio 60 seems to attract an abnormal number of "If you don't like the show, don't watch it"-type comments each week. While I would never tell you guys what to post, it seems to me that this kind of comment really isn't all that helpful. It feels a lot like telling war-protesters that when it comes to America, you can either "love it or leave it." Isn't it possible to love something and wish that it were better? I mean, I'm just going on personal experience here, but when I tell my wife that she shouldn't be mad at me because "she knew I didn't do housework when she married me," it doesn't end the argument. In fact, it actually makes the argument worse. So can we maybe, possibly, accept that most of the people who check this site each week (including your humble reviewer) love the show, but can't help but be cognizant of some places where it needs improvement? And you know I feel strongly about this because I just opened up the door to my wife reading this review tomorrow and using this paragraph to forever justify her nagging my faults ("see, I love you, I just see places where you can improve!")
2) Has anyone else felt that watching the show since it returned is kind of... weird? Since I know that the end is coming no matter what, it makes my relationship with the show complicated and detached. It kind of feels like when you live with a girlfriend and you decide to break-up, but there's still 6 weeks left on your lease, so you try to stick it out till then. Inevitably, you wind up having alcohol (or Flintstone vitamin) fueled sex and wake up the next morning feeling weirded out about the whole thing. At the same time you're trying not to get too excited about it, you're trying to enjoy it because you know that it's going to go away soon. (You have to believe me, this comparison made so much more sense in my head).
3) I pose this question to all you commentators: has anyone, ever, in the history of show business, gotten more mileage out of an impression of Nicolas Cage than Simon Helberg? Near as I can tell, he does nothing else on the show but Nicolas Cage. Is there a record for this kind of thing? Is he approaching the "Famous for being able to impersonate one person very well but for no other reason" Hall of Fame along with Frank Caliendo and Vaughn Meader?
4) I'm losing track of how "meta" this show is becoming. Let me get this straight:
a) It's a TV show about a TV show.
b) The fake network on the show is very similar (down to the call letters) of the real network that the real show is airing on.
c) The main character of the show is very obviously a stand-in for the writer and producer of the show. Oh, by the way, that main character recently started a pill-popping addiction just a wee-bit similar to the writer of the show's own addiction.
d) The West Wing, probably the most famous work by the writer and producer of this show actually exists in this world's universe (as witnessed by the Allison Janney appearance last week). That means it's conceivable that Aaron Sorkin himself also exists. Which means that the final episode, a la Breakfast of Champions, could quite possibly be Sorkin and Matt pairing off for one final philosophical showbiz discussion. I'm not saying that this is the way it will end, just that it could.
e) One big knock against the show is that the sketches aren't funny. Tonight's show pretty much said to the audience, "hey, guess what, we know that the sketches aren't funny! It's a plot point! Take that! Nyah!"
f) Studio 60, the fake show inside the real show, is suffering from ratings problems almost exactly identical to the ratings problems that the real show is suffering from. You have to wonder how many of the panicky discussions about shares and demos and red-states that aired tonight were simply recorded word for word from the actual Studio 60 set!
The show is so meta, I think that if Aaron Sorkin were to sit at home and watch this show air, it has to look a hell of a lot like the scene in Being John Malkovich where John Malkovich climbs into his own head and the whole world becomes a bunch of John Malkoviches (Malkovichi? Damn, where's one of those Spelling Bee kids when you need one?)
All right, now the review. If you skipped right here, you probably did yourself a favor.
Stuff that was good this week:
-- Matt and Danny return! Yay!
-- The interaction between Danny and Jordan, especially when they decided to settle their fight. Only in the Sorkinverse can a guy say that he can't think of a single thing that he was sorry for and have the woman find it charming. Incidentally, I'd love to live in the Sorkinverse.
-- Nate Corddry. Though I sincerely doubt that the line he botched was funny regardless of whether he said "machine" or "blower" and I had serious issues with the ham-handedness with which his brother's hostage situation was handled, I think he managed to pull it off and even had me emoting a little with him at the end of the episode. He's a great and charming actor and I really hope that he finds a soft landing when all of this is over.
-- Lucy Davis's legs. I'm an old BBC Office fan, so sue me.
-- Danny confronting Matt regarding his drug abuse. It felt exactly right in direct opposition to how exactly wrong Matt's assistant's confrontation was.
-- Jenna Fischer as the host. I'm a current Office fan, so sue me.
Stuff that was not so good this week:
-- If all the stuff about the final episodes being an exercise in fiscal responsibility is true, tonight was the first time it showed up on the screen. Their after-party was on the set itself? Really? I'm sure Saturday Night Live does that all the time. After spoiling us by spending money on the front 13 like a drunken Maloof brother, the sudden belt-tightening is made all the more obvious by the previous extravagance.
-- I'm not an expert on ratings by any means, but I'm pretty sure the best way not to get any is to devote a major chunk of dialog to a discussion about ratings. Guys, I'm all about insidery showbizese, but I really didn't want to hear another word about "demos" or "shares." As Casey Kasem once complained: it's ponderous man, it's f-ing ponderous.
-- No Cal!
-- No, really... NO CAL!
-- Seriously, you had a scene in the control room, and you didn't have Cal there! That's like having a porno that ends with the two main characters shaking hands and agreeing to "just be friends."
-- Jack. Remember how earlier in the season he was a network shark that defied stereotype? Yeah, those days are gone.
Stuff that I'm not so sure about:
-- The lawyer. Is she annoying or cute? Is she delightfully and intelligently self-aware or boringly and predictably so? I don't know. I thought the line about her having a "200 IQ" was funny, but I think if someone told me that in real life I'd want to push them down a flight of steps, so I don't know where I stand with her. Either way, I think she could take Harriet in a cat-fight (and if you don't think I'm hoping for that scene to exist more than I am a good result from my MRI on Saturday, then you don't know me at all!)
Question of the week: Do you find yourself less interested in the show now that you know it's ending (so what's the point of getting attached) or more interested (because you have to savor every last bit of Studio 60 goodness)?
For depriving me of Cal and forcing me to sit through nine or ten thousand speeches about ratings, I give tonight's episode 5 Flintstone Vitamins out of 7.
|1 - The Worst||10 (3.7%)|
|7 - The Best||61 (22.5%)|