Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

August 5, 2006 at 1:21 am | Posted in TV News | Leave a comment

The pilot of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip was on YouTube for like two hours this week, so I checked it out.  Here’s my take (with spoilers):

As a fan of Aaron Sorkin’s previous show, Sports Night, I was struck by the similarities — I think Aaron’s still bitter about the earlier show’s cancellation, and so he decided to just redo it, with a concept just different enough to escape the notice of network execs.  I’m not complaining, though, because everything that Aaron repurposes — the control room banter, the hallway conversations, the struggles between network suits and producers — is a lot of fun to watch.  There’s a The American President-ish moment where a fed up producer drops the facade and vents his feelings to the American public, too.

The cast is fantastic.  Amanda Peet does a great job, and Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford are perfect in their roles.  I was surprised to see Sarah Paulson as a Studio 60 show-within-a-show castmember; she often does comedic work, but never broad sketch comedy, so it was a little hard to buy her as the show’s “star.”  Plus, could you ever imagine an SNL cast member recording an album of “spiritual music”?  Would. Never. Happen.  Actually, the whole “Crazy Christians” plotline seemed heavy-handed to me.  It seemed a lot more dramatic and relevant when the Sports Night guys took moral stands, because they worked for a “news” show.  In this case, we’re talking sketch comedy on late night, and joking about religion is hardly taboo in that timeslot. Remember a little skit called “The Church Lady”?

Anyway, the other problem I had with the pilot was the direction — every scene was a little choppy, and the pacing was weird.  But, this script did set up the plot nicely, and I generally think series pilots are worse than the episodes that follow.  There are a lot of stories to tell here, and I’m looking forward to seeing inside the writers room, and more of the dynamic between Matt and Danny.  I’m definitely going to catch this show when it airs this fall.

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