Topic: Studio 60

You guys have all seen this, right? One season of what starts as genius and becomes only very good by the end before it was canceled. Written and produced by Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme, who were responsible for the first four seasons of The West Wing.

It's exceedingly witty, everyone on the show is excellent, it's beautifully shot and it's about making an SNL-type show. In other words, it's the good version of 30 Rock.

The whole thing is on Hulu. One of the best pilots I've ever seen, check it out, see if you like it.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: Studio 60

I'm a huge Sorkin fan and loved this one. I got some minor issues with the show, but overall I thought it was very good.

One thing I found very refreshing about it, was how it had a main character who was so clearly an atheist. Especially after West Wing where it seemed like everyone believed in God.

Speaking of Sorkin televison. Anyone who liked this and/or West Wing also need to watch Sports Night. Another excellent show and one where you can clearly see Sorkin and Schlamme figure out what their particular brand of TV looks and feels like.

Last edited by Hansen (2010-03-17 20:03:05)

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Re: Studio 60

Agreed that the pilot is one of the best ever. I was a little disappointed that they changed the callsign of the fictional network from UBS to whatever it ended up being; the "Network" shout-out was too good to last, I guess.

But for whatever reason, the rest of the series didn't really work for me. It was missing something, I don't know what. And I worship The West Wing; I've got the first four seasons on DVD, and the rest of the show I never bothered to watch after fucking Wells left Leo fucking dying in the fucking woods. Not that I'm bitter.

Sports Night, on the other hand … man. It's got some of the tightest writing ever. There's this whole story arc that totally pivots on just one quietly delivered line, and the writing is so tight I'm not even spoiling anything for anybody when I quote it:

"You're wearing my shirt."

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Re: Studio 60

Here's the problem with Studio 60, and I'm not the first one to say this so I can't take credit for the insight: a great deal of time is spent talking about how funny the show is and, in particular, what a brilliant comedy writer Matthew Perry is. But then when we see examples of sketches for this brilliant show, they're fucking lame. It makes it hard to take the show seriously, and the show took itself very seriously -- I think too much so, for the general audience's tastes.

The West Wing had the benefit of being about the leaders of the free world, under a lot of pressure to hold the country -- and really, Western civilization as we know it -- together. It's easy for an audience to get on board with the the drama of "oh shit, a leading and inspiring political figure has been shot and might die!" I haven't even seen West Wing and I can immediately see where it can be a powerful source of drama.

Studio 60 tried to apply the same level of drama to "oh shit, the FCC might not let fake-SNL air their 'Tourette's Jesus' sketch!" (Or whatever, it's been a while.) Generally speaking, who cares?

I liked Studio 60, because I'm interested and engaged in the backroom workings of entertainment. I thought it was cleverly- (if occasionally overly-) written, in that Sorkin way, and wanted to see it continue, but I'm not surprised that it didn't.

And I'm not surprised that 30 Rock is the one that did -- it's consistently funny in a slightly mad "Alice in Wonderland" way (the original story, not that Burton...thing), and while the show-within-a-show's sketches are just as lame as Studio 60's, that's part of the joke rather than being a failing of the premise. 30 Rock mocks the idea that television is SERIOUS BUSINESS, whereas Studio 60 tried to enshrine it.

With the premise "behind the scenes of an SNL-like show," 30 Rock is the manic version of that concept, and Studio 60 the depressive. I would have been happy to have both, I for one enjoyed the contrast; but if we can only have one, I'm personally glad it's 30 Rock.

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Re: Studio 60

I agree with what you're saying about the in-universe sketches not being riotously funny, but that doesn't bother me, because they're not really a part of the show. The most we ever see of one is about thirty seconds.

A point of contention there is that almost every time we see a part of a sketch, it's in or followed with the context that Matt (genius writer character) doesn't like it and it needs work.

As such, I don't think it's a failing of the premise.

I agree that the pilot is very strong, and in the back half of the 22 episode run, things tend to play to Sorkin's strong points (IE, a five episode story arc about one of the cast members' brother being missing in a war zone) but by that point, I'm so involved in the huge, likable cast that I don't care.

Furthermore, I agree that the essential problem with the series is that Sorkin tends to take shit very seriously, and fill a situation with smart people - and that in comedy, it's more difficult to buy than in politics. (Insert joke here.) This trajectory even seems to continue; the last thing he wrote was The Facebook Movie, which I read and enjoyed, but felt that problem's presence in.

However, as seriously as it takes its characters, I think it's a deeply enjoyable show, with a much higher frequency of brilliance than almost any other program since The West Wing's first four seasons.

In other words, I mostly agree with Mike, however I can't recommend the show enough.

And, not as a competitor to Studio 60 but as its own show, I still can't believe anybody can watch 30 Rock.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: Studio 60

I agree that the sketches tended to be less than great, but it never bothered me that much. I don't watch Sorkin's shows for sketch comedy, I watch them for smart and clever dialogue, which the show had lots of. And like Fig said, we never saw that much of them anyway.

I don't get why people like 30 rock. Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin are the only good parts of it while EVERYTHING else bugs me to no end.

Especially Tracy Morgan. Still haven't laughed at a single gag involving him.

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Re: Studio 60

Dorkman is right. The difference can be summed up in something George Clooney once said on the Daily Show (paraphrased):

"Washington and Los Angeles are the same in that they're both one industry towns and think what they do keeps the world spinning. The difference is that in Washington, they're right."

Re: Studio 60

I guess I'm the one guy who's never seen "30 Rock." I'm seeing a therapist about it, though, so it's gonna be okay. I'll get through it.

I don't think Sorkin's seriousness was, by itself, a problem. EVERYBODY takes what they do that seriously. Dorkman's totally got a point that the audience can more easily get invested in the drama surrounding the presidency than in the drama surrounding a weekly sketch show, but I think there was a real opportunity there to make that part of the story. Hell, there was an opportunity there to add a metatextual comment (ugh, sorry) about Sorkin himself. Making the fact that they take themselves too seriously part of the characters, you know? And somehow making it endearing instead of infuriating.

    For God’s sake, Danny, you
    work in television! You’re
    not running the free world
    here. This isn’t that

    It is that important.

    It’s not important!

    You know what thirty
    million people do every
    Friday night? They watch
    us. They’re tired, they’ve
    worked all week, they’ve
    fought with their wives
    and yelled at their kids.
    They’re behind on the
    mortgage and can’t afford
    their insurance. We forget
    that, you and me, because
    when was the last time you
    had hamburger helper for
    dinner, you in your
    suit. Your shoes cost more
    than most people make in a
    week. We have no idea what
    it’s like out there for
    these people, living
    paycheck to paycheck, just
    trying to scrape up enough
    to maybe buy Christmas
    presents. And every Friday
    night, they watch us. And
    we tell them it’s gonna be
    okay. We tell them the
    world sucks and the people
    in charge are stupid and
    you know what? It’s gonna
    be okay. Sit down, take a
    load off, have a couple

    A couple?

    You been off your game

    Fair point.

        (to JACK)
    Life sucks, Jack. Not for
    me and not for you, but
    for the people out there
    in what you so derisively
    call flyover country …
    life sucks out there. We
    make it a little better.

    You really do think you’re
    some kinda messiah, don’t
    you, Danny?

    But if He’s out there, I
    hope He tunes in tonight.
    Cause it’s gonna be a
    great show.

JACK, speechless and shaking
his head, walks out.

    Too much?

    No, I liked it. But
    apparently I've been off
    my game lately, so what do
    I know.

    Shut up.


Instead it was all "This is serious business!" "Yes, I agree that this is serious business!" "Let us take it as a given that this is serious business and proceed with our serious business!" "Indubitably!"

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