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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Any fan of any decade of "Saturday Night Live" should immediately be
able to imagine a thousand possibilities for a show like this. A
thousand possible story lines drugs, addiction, rock and roll,
lip-syncing, ad-libs, difficult divas, competition for stage time,
backstage brawls, plagiarism, sabotage, romance, flings, sex, network
politics, censorship, rising stars, fading stars, unexpected disease
and tragic death.
Creator Aaron Sorkin treats the world of entertainment just as seriously as he did the world of politics in "The West Wing." He's brought in the same level of acting, the same level of writing, the same level of direction and cinematography and the same level of for lack of a better word gravitas and brought it all to bear in a younger, grittier, hipper setting.
Within the first few minutes of the pilot, you can tell what an impressive job they've done in recreating an SNL-type aura. The stage, the lights, the announcer's voice, the moving set pieces, the audience bleachers, the show's logo, the token black cast member everything is captured perfectly.
Better yet, "Studio 60" isn't afraid to attack its inspiration. You see, "Studio 60", just like the real "SNL," currently sucks. It's been in decline since losing its top writer and director four years ago and now merely limps along, making predictable George W. Bush jokes and relying on its own fame to keep it on the air. The Lorne Michaels-type producer, played masterfully by Judd Hirsch, makes an occasional attempt to get something controversial on the air, but is repeatedly shot down by the network censor.
On this particular night, however, he loses it and launches into a fiery tirade on live television about the loss of quality and integrity at the networks and in America in general. This gets him fired and puts the future of the show in jeopardy. Enter the excellent Amanda Peet as the new head of programming, Jordan, on her first day at the job. You can see a confident playfulness in her eyes as she goes toe-to-toe with the network president (played by Steven Weber from "Wings" as a ruthless, unemotional yet intelligent shark) but also slight vulnerability such as when she can't find her new office. She's extremely appealing a fast-talking, idea-slinging new sheriff in a corporate creative town full of pathetic yes-men and tired unoriginality. Like Martin Sheen as the president on "The West Wing," you can't wait to see what she'll manage to accomplish with her fresh perspective.
Her first bold plan is to counteract the negative publicity currently circulating around "Studio 60" by wooing back the show's original writer and director, Matt and Danny played respectively by Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford. They've grown famous and successful since leaving "Studio 60," but aren't without leftover issues. Matt's just broken up with his girlfriend, who happens to be one of the top three stars of "Studio 60," while Danny is still fighting a cocaine addiction and hiding it from his partner.
So, how does Perry handle the transition from situation comedy to serious drama? Fine. It does help that this serious drama happens to be about a comedy show and Perry happens to be playing a funny writer. But he's not just playing Chandler either. There's more weight to this role. His character's obviously carrying a lot of baggage around, stuff that is hinted at in the pilot but not revealed yet he has to set that aside temporarily to watch over his best friend, who might actually be more troubled than he is. Perry still does the nervous wise-cracking thing he did on "Friends," but here it comes across as more authentic of who his character is a neurotic Hollywood writer but, at the same time, only one dimension of a very three-dimensional person.
Already, I'm dying to see the next episode. What will Matt and Danny, built up as such incredible talents in the pilot, do to energize the lagging show? How will Matt get along with his ex-girlfriend when they have to work together practically 24/7? Will Danny relapse to cocaine under the pressures of directing a live broadcast every week? How will the network react when Matt and Danny, with Jordan's permission, air the controversial sketch that got Judd Hirsch fired? On the very first spot of their very first show? Plus, why did Matt and Danny get fired in the first place? And who really fired them the network president or their hero, the Judd Hirsch producer? What are the stories of the other cast members, such as D.L. Hughley and the D.J. Qualls look-alike? Which one's going to be the diva? Which one's going to leave the show to be a movie star? Which one will die from a drug overdose? Not to mention the potential for guest star "hosts." Guest stars playing themselves not for cheap laughs, but in honest-to-goodness dramatic situations. The pilot has Felicity Huffman worrying about what dress to wear for her monologue and fretting about the crappy nature of the monologue itself. The possibilities are endless here as well.
My only concern with "Studio 60" is whether or not it can be funny. It's definitely smart, witty and fascinating, but if it's going to be about a comedy show, it'd better have some actual comedy in it. The only sketches shown in the pilot are intentionally bad (the show's supposed to suck, remember?), but I do hope we'll get to see glimpses of classic SNL brilliance via this fictionalized homage to it.
After watching the pilot, though, I'm pretty confident "Studio 60" can do whatever the hell it pleases. It seems very sure of itself and I can't wait to see what it has in store for a full season.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I wonder if it was lost on anyone that the moment of Drama that drives
this new Aaron Sorkin Vision takes place on a Television Set mock-up of
the Oval Office? A TV producer decries the decline of intelligent
writing and quality Programming. He draws attention to this FAUX Oval
Office and reminds us that no one will mistake George Bush for George
Plimpton. I thought of the decline of The West Wing after Mr. Sorkins'
departure and thinking no one would mistake George Bush for Josiah
The real question is where is this show going. Characters are fleshed out, the mythology gets opened up and revealed. With such an amazing cast and a proved talent like Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme, I would be shocked if the Drama doesn't reach for the stars, it's tongue firmly in it's cheek for the wryest of humor.
So, the scene is set and all the players on the field. The only character that concerns me is portrayed by Amanda Peet. Peet portrays her with a little too much youthful exuberance and cavalier humor. One may assume that to have reached her position in the network a little bit of Jaundice should have set in. Hopefully she develops and doesn't catch the first train to Mandy-ville.
What also was not yet present was Mr. Sorkin's ability to weave both subtext and subplot so seamlessly. I suppose that requires more plot development as well as character development. I know when both Timothy Busfield and Bradley Whitfield are on screen it will take me a while to get used to Bradley answering to the name Danny.
Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford have good chemistry. They have the kind of friendship that is reminiscent of Bartlett and Leo. A deep bonding that hopefully gets explored.
I have the highest of hopes!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Having seen the pilot of this show I am so proud of NBC in producing a top-notch new show. In this era of TV, where 90%+ of shows are junk, if there is justice left in the entertainment industry this show will flourish and prosper. Great writing from Aaron Sorkin and his team and great chemistry and timing between the entire cast, especially Mattew Perry and Bradley Whitford are sure to make this show one of the funniest on television this fall season. Also Judd Hirsch's performance in the pilot should gain him a nod for guest appearance in any TV awards. This is one of those shows can redeem the mass of sludge network has become, yes reality TV I am talking to you, so please, for God's sake, will the general viewing audience please catch onto this show and keep it going for hopefully at least a whole season.
Studio 60 is a fast-paced, well-written series which challenges the
viewer to keep up with the action. The characters have full dimension
and the portrayals make the viewer care what happens to each character.
The network has invested not only time and money into this show, it has gathered a plethora of skilled actors who've proved their skills in other venues as well as presenting talented people in secondary roles with the strong hint of more presence to come. I look forward to seeing the development of these currently secondary players and their various impacts on the varied underlying themes.
This show is a keeper and so should be kept running.
in the TV world of cop-shop-talk, overly hyped courtroom drama, and inherent idiocy of reality shows, it's a welcome change & refreshing to hear smart, funny dialog between characters, and plot lines with hints of addressing serious American cultural issues. "Studio 60" is an intelligent pleasure to watch, and Aaron Sorkin makes great use of talented actors he's worked with before, from Timothy Busfield, Matthew Perry, D.L. Hughley, Bradley Whitford, Evan Handler (recently from "Sex in the City") plus lots of other familiar faces...and the chemistry & witty dialog flows from beginning to end. I've enjoyed every show; cant wait to see more...
I've been in and out of the entertainment industry for my life, as have members of my family. This is probably one of the smartest television programs out there and, actually, very realistic in a lot of ways! Reminds me of a lot of the stuff I had to deal with when I worked in live Radio actually. PLEASE don't cancel this any time soon! There's so much schlock out there ... and it's nice to see the interplay with someone who plays with M. Perry so well ... and appears to challenge him ... It is very nice to see Perry in a part that is worthy of his acting, humor, intellect and subtle charm. I wasn't a huge Friends fan, but did enjoy his character because he played it so well. I could go on, but why? From my impression - Studio 60 is amazing and I sincerely hoping this show doesn't get axed any time soon!
Studio 60 is funny and moving, dramatic and hilarious. For me this is
currently the best show on television. I've enjoyed each episode so far
and they've been getting better and better. This show is full of great
writing and great acting and I always wish there was more once it's
over. Thank goodness it's not a 30 minute show.
The dialogue is smart and witty and controversy is dealt with respectfully by showing us a fair portrayal of both sides of each issue. Some shows pretend they're showing both sides of each issue but they are really a thinly veiled attempt at making one side seem ridiculous and the other side the obvious choice. Not so with Studio 60.
I used to be a CSI: Miami guy on Mondays but I can't go back now.
If you haven't watched Studio 60 yet you should give it a try, you won't regret it.
I have emailed NBC twice about canceling this show. One of the few intelligent, well written, thought provoking shows I have seen in a while. What's the alternative, Singing Bee or watching women compete for a date? I have looked forward to viewing this show and am very disappointed in it's cancellation. Was it an air time problem or another season needed to gain viewer ship? I enjoyed it's complication-a good story along with great acting is becoming so rare these days. To hear statements that contain some reference as to what people are really thinking is such a refreshing switch from the pc crowd.Perhaps another network will see it's possibilities and pick it up. I just wish all those who made Studio 60 could know that some of us admired their work and will miss the show.
It is funny, smart, articulate, and touched the heart all at the same time. So of course word is that is has been canceled! It ran so briefly before getting pre-empted several times, that it barely got seen, yet NBC saw fit to shoot it down, and will be putting on several live game shows and other reality garbage of that ilk. Worse than that, they now torture us with the last new episodes, so that we might be bereft when it is gone. I wish there was a way to save the show, but networks rarely let shows live long enough to find their audience. NBC barely let it run long enough for anyone to find it. I think the best episode was the "Disaster Show," and watching Allison Janey and former "West Wing" lover Tim Busfield work together. What a hoot. What a waste that such a clever show will be lost to TV history.
I loved the West Wing, the writing, the acting, the direction, it was just an amazingly good show. So when i heard that Mr Sorkin was making a show about the 'behind the scenes' of a SNL type show, i had a hunch it was going to be good. Unfortunately being in Australia, we don't get the really good American shows until they are the biggest rating show in the states, so we're usually 1 or 2 seasons behind. Thank god for the internet. Having been given the first 6 episodes by a good friend, i started to watch, thinking this should be good, but no more that 5 minutes into the first episode, i was hooked. Here is a show that's not afraid to say that TV sucks and what we all end up watching is watered down and dumbed down to fit with the lowest common denominator. Its really well written, and the cast is soo good, especially a man i never new i'd find engaging to watch, Mathew Perry. He and Bradley Whitford truly make this a great show. Their dialog together, especially in the first episode is outstanding. One truly gets the feeling that these two have worked together for many years and can finish each other sentences. But the rest of the cast is also tremendous, no one feels out of place, yet there are several casting choices that seem almost against type, but work brilliantly. All i can hope is that more people get a chance to see this excellent show. I've now seen 10 episodes and i want more, a show this good is truly addictive and can be watched many times over. Oh how could i forget, the production value is truly outstanding. Bravo to all involved. Being in the Australian TV industry, i wish we were making shows of this quality, not just churning half thought out ideas to get ratings, or more brain dead game shows. Watch it.
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