Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Darren H

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Recommended Posts

Well, hot damn! Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme will be returning to network TV next year with Studio 7, a one-hour comedy/drama set behind-the-scenes at a late-night comedy show (obviously modeled on Saturday Night Live). Sports Night and early-West Wing fans rejoice!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whaddaya want to bet that the comedy sketches will be 100-times better than SNL's?

Man, I cannot wait for this. I'd heard about the show a few weeks ago, but didn't know it was Sorkin's. Fantastic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agreed, of all the Friends cast, Perry is the only one with an edge that has yet to be tapped by some good writers.

The link to your original piece is gone now, but I did find this which says: "one of the show

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just finished watching season 5 of The West Wing on DVD -- the first post-Sorkin season. And if my appreciation of his writing wasn't strong enough before, seeing a group of very talented writers completely dismantle all of the show's wit and complexity in just a few episodes cemented it. Nothing would make me happier than to see Sorkin continue doing three- or four-season runs on network TV. I just hope that from now on his characters won't have to suffer the indignity of being neutered by committees of staff writers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[Napoleon Dynamite]YESSSS!!![/Napoleon Dynamite]

BRADLEY WHITFORD has joined the cast!! And so has Timothy Busfield!

It's gonna be a West Wing reunion!

Oh, and we need to retitle this thread: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've seen the pilot episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (I'm going to keep saying the whole title until someone changes this thread title!).

It's another strong, foundation-laying Sorkin prologue. There are some awkward points. It's clearly a functional opening, one that introduces us to the major characters and sets up all kinds of relationship conflicts that I'm sure we'll explore in detail later.

Surprises: This episode reveals that Sorkin is working with the most astonishing set design and cinematography so far. It looks EXPENSIVE beginning to end. In fact, it's so showy and elaborate that I think he'll have a harder time drawing us deep into the characters' lives.

But, having said that, I'm already hooked.

Matthew Perry is great, he and Bradley Whitford make a good team, Felicity Huffman shows up (to the delight of SportsNight fans), the rest of the cast is excellent, and Sorkin's script mercilessly guns at SNL, mainstream news media, and more. Since this is the pilot episode, I can only assume he's playing it a little safe... and that's scary, because its strikes me as his most personal, autobiographical material yet. Anybody who knows anything about his career and personal struggles will realize that this episode is like a therapy session for him.

Anyway, it's great television, and I highly recommend you all show up for the season premiere.

Most Christian media writers are going to hate it, because it also opens fire on evanglicals. No, wait, let me revise that: One character opens fire on evangelicals. Another provides a more reasonable, fair assessment. But that character probably won't register with those who are primed to become offended.

Man, I miss SportsNight. Perhaps it was just too far ahead of its time. Perhaps Studio 60 will enjoy the success SportsNight should have had. There are a lot of similarities between the two series, clearly.

But something tells me that TV audiences are still going to back slowly away, too bewildered by television this smart.

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was a relatively big Sorkin-era "The West Wing" fan, but man, "Sports Night" rarely worked for me; it always seemed like a sports show made by people who cared more about liberal politics than sports. (Of course, that helped "The West Wing.") So I'm a bit worried about "Studio 60" -- similar to "Sports Night," I'm not sure Sorkin's enough of a sketch-comedy fan to make it work, and it may end up being a show about drug legalization and gay marriage that happens to be set at a Saturday Night Live proxy.

On the other hand, "Sports Night"s other major problem was that everyone in its cast (except Felicity Huffman) was inferior to everyone in "West Wing"s original cast (except Dule Hill), and "Studio 60" is clearly more akin to the latter. So, we'll see.

Dale

Edited by M. Dale Prins

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the preview, Jeffrey. As if I wasn't salivating enough.

You're probably right about folks backing off from TV that's too smart, but perhaps with the dearth of thoughtful TV that's out there right now, we'll get lucky and the show will last a few seasons.

You make an interesting point about the attacks on Evangelicals. One of the things that I most appreciated about West Wing was its ability and willingness to axe the hyperbolic, right-wing religious nutsos with Bartlett's razor-sharp religious wit while at the same time allowing other right-wing religious characters to interact with the Dems in respectful, intelligent ways. In other words, I appreciated the show's willingness to deal with the complexity that is real life when it comes to relgion in America.

To bad that, again, you're probably going to be right, and I'll have to once again defend my enjoyment of Sorkin's shows.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Done and done, and I have deleted the duplicate thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I was a relatively big Sorkin-era "The West Wing" fan, but man, "Sports Night" rarely worked for me; it always seemed like a sports show made by people who cared more about liberal politics than sports. (Of course, that helped "The West Wing.")
I always thought that was the point of "Sports Night." It was not about sports, it was about what happens just before and right after the cameras come on. I don't remember "Sports Night" being about politics, though. You did see political issues, but only in as much as they came up in the lives of the charaters. If pressed to say "Sports Night" was about something, it was about the pressure the corporate headquarters put on the individuals who were trying to create something of quality. It looks like that will be a dominate theme of "Studio 60." Is that what you mean by being about liberal politics?

So I'm a bit worried about "Studio 60" -- similar to "Sports Night," I'm not sure Sorkin's enough of a sketch-comedy fan to make it work, and it may end up being a show about drug legalization and gay marriage that happens to be set at a Saturday Night Live proxy.
If I understand the premise, and I've also seen the pilot, then "Studio 60" might not be for you. I don't think it will be about sketch-comdey, but about the struggle of the characters to overcome corporate interests, drugs, and relationship complications. (In fact, just like with "Sports Night," I bet all that we see of the actual show is the occasional monologue and maybe the very end or beginning of a few skits.)

That was definately a dominate theme in "The West Wing," too. Much of it was about how Barlett's "better angels" could overcome the crass political demands of the job. I loved Toby's interactions with Barlett, and it probably helped that I agreed politically with what Toby called the "better angels" most of the time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've watched the pilot twice now and am really eager for the season to begin. I suspect this will be a really good role for Matthew Perry, in the same way Sam Seaborn was so good for Rob Lowe. Sorkin is obviously most sympathetic to his characters who are writers.

I was also pleased to see Bradley Whitford so quickly distinguish himself in his new role. I always wondered if he ever "played" Josh Lyman on The West Wing or if he was just being himself, saying Josh's lines. At least in the pilot, his new character has a different body language and presence.

A couple things I'm hoping/worried about:

- I hope Timothy Busfield gets a good bit of screen time.

- I hope Sorkin doesn't turn the fat cast member into John Belushi/Chris Farley.

- I hope Harriet's being a Christian is only mentioned in every fifth or sixth episode.

- I hope Steven Weber gets to be more than just the bad guy.

- I hope D.L. Hughley can hold his own when called upon to act.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
["Sports Night'] was not about sports, it was about what happens just before and right after the cameras come on. I don't remember "Sports Night" being about politics, though. You did see political issues, but only in as much as they came up in the lives of the charaters.

...which happened pretty much every week, especially during the first season. My complaint is that the "Sports Night" spent virtually no time looking at what is specifically unique about creating a "SportsCenter"-esque show, and all sorts of time opining about the rights minorities, the homeless, drug legalization, and whatever other liberal causes interested Sorkin that day. (And most of the time, those liberal causes -- like the first and third I listed -- weren't even pegged to a sports-specific story, despite obvious ways to do so.) Think about it: What would really be different about "Sports Night" if it had instead taken place at, oh, a ripoff of "The Today Show"? Very, very little, and that ain't right. The beauty of "The West Wing" is it merged politics and political issues; "Sports Night" merging sports and political issues -- despite there always being political issues in sports -- never worked for me.

If pressed to say "Sports Night" was about something, it was about the pressure the corporate headquarters put on the individuals who were trying to create something of quality....Is that what you mean by being about liberal politics?

Huh? No.

(In fact, just like with "Sports Night," I bet all that we see of the actual show is the occasional monologue and maybe the very end or beginning of a few skits.)

That's fine, as long as we get to look into the creative process in making a show like "Saturday Night Live." I'm not asking for something as great as the rehearsal scene from Topsy-Turvy; I'm just interested in a little more specifics and wonkery about the creation of television than "Sports Night" ever did.

Dale

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
["Sports Night'] was not about sports, it was about what happens just before and right after the cameras come on. I don't remember "Sports Night" being about politics, though. You did see political issues, but only in as much as they came up in the lives of the charaters.

...which happened pretty much every week, especially during the first season.

At the time I was watching "Sports Night," I worked in a place where discussions about things like minority rights, homelessness, drug policy, etc. did happen a lot, at least once a week.

My complaint is that the "Sports Night" spent virtually no time looking at what is specifically unique about creating a "SportsCenter"-esque show, and all sorts of time opining about the rights minorities, the homeless, drug legalization, and whatever other liberal causes interested Sorkin that day. (And most of the time, those liberal causes -- like the first and third I listed -- weren't even pegged to a sports-specific story, despite obvious ways to do so.)
How interesting. It's been a long time since I've watched "Sports Night," but I don't remember that those issues had that prominent a place on the show. I wouldn't at all be surprised if the issue was my faulty memory. The most political storyline that I remember was the one regarding the female reporter entering the locker room to interview the quarterback. That one was definately sport-specific. I take you are saying that the show would have been stronger if anytime a political issue came up, it was done in a similar manner.

If pressed to say "Sports Night" was about something, it was about the pressure the corporate headquarters put on the individuals who were trying to create something of quality....Is that what you mean by being about liberal politics?

Huh? No.

Some people would consider the greedycorporation=evil and hip/young/creative/individual=good aspect of the show to be an example of liberal politics. That's what I remember to be the overarching theme, and so the parts of the show about producing a quality sports show stand out in my memory.

(In fact, just like with "Sports Night," I bet all that we see of the actual show is the occasional monologue and maybe the very end or beginning of a few skits.)

That's fine, as long as we get to look into the creative process in making a show like "Saturday Night Live." I'm not asking for something as great as the rehearsal scene from Topsy-Turvy; I'm just interested in a little more specifics and wonkery about the creation of television than "Sports Night" ever did.

I wonder if there will be more room for that in "Studio 60" than there was on "Sports Night." Since each episode of "The West Wing" was twice as long, it had time for both the wonkishness and the characters and relationship. Your earlier point wondering if Sorkin is enough of a fan of sketch-comedy is interesting. I wonder if he is more of a fan of sketch comedy than he is of sports (or more accurately, sport-reporting)

I also wonder if the Tina Fey show will be more about the actual creation of a sketch-comedy show. About the only thing I've heard about it is about how it will have to compete with Sorkin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The most political storyline that I remember was the one regarding the female reporter entering the locker room to interview the quarterback. That one was definately sport-specific. I take you are saying that the show would have been stronger if anytime a political issue came up, it was done in a similar manner.

Not every time, but more often than it did, yeah -- especially since it isn't that hard finding a peg for pretty much any social issue somewhere in the sports world.

Since each episode of "The West Wing" was twice as long, it had time for both the wonkishness and the characters and relationship....

Very true, which is another reason I have a good deal of hope for "Studio 60." I now have the pilot from NetFlix, so we shall see...

Dale

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Other than the Network moment five minutes into the pilot -- which, like most of Sorkin's holier-than-thou monologues, was overwrought -- there's a lot to like: Pairing up Perry and Whitford is genius, Sorkin seems to have at least some genuine interest in sketch comedy ("Perepheral Vision Man" is a spot-on SNL-esque idea), there was some nailbiting tension between Busfield and the network guy, the show looked fabulous, et al.

However, at least on first impressions, Peet is Denise Richards in The World Is Not Enough, Weber's kind of blah, and Paulson is miscast in the Kristin Chenoweth/Victoria Jackson role. So, we'll see.

Dale

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did anyone else actually watch the first episode/pilot? The DH and I tried, but dozed off about 15 minutes in--could have been because we're old and tired, could have been the exhausting barrage of cleverness (we gave up on The West Wing years ago). I woke up in time to catch the final ten minutes.

Where do they go from here?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I totally dug it. I liked the characters, esp Paulson's, and think this show has huge potential to entertainingly dissect Sorkin's personal life on screen, without it being banal. My type of show.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is it possible for a show to become your favorite show after only one episode? 'Cause that might be what just happened...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad you like it! But man, I hope more people saw it than just the few of us. It's the best show I've seen in a long while, and I can't wait for next week.

Anybody know if they're going to do a repeat performance of the pilot sometime this week? I know other networks have tried to do that... Or maybe it'll be available online somewhere...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's beginning to concern me that whenever I'm really impressed with screenwriting, the queen of Act One: Writing for Hollywood condemns it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...