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Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip


Darren H
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If I was asked to do a Cosby impression (and, please, don't ask), I would begin with the words "Pudding Pops." It's the standard Cosby impression. It helps, though, if you're wearing a big sweater patterned with a collision of colorful geometric shapes. Nope, wasn't product placement. When you can afford sets like that, you're not going to need corrupt your show with that kind of product placement anyway.

By the way, the Nicolosi comment thread is overwhelmingly in favor of bashing this show and calling Sorkin out for using the show as an all-out attack on Christianity as a whole. (Sigh.) Might as well have you-know-who moderating her Web page.

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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If I was asked to do a Cosby impression (and, please, don't ask), I would begin with the words "Pudding Pops." It's the standard Cosby impression. It helps, though, if you're wearing a big sweater patterned with a collision of colorful geometric shapes. Nope, wasn't product placement. When you can afford sets like that, you're not going to need corrupt your show with that kind of product placement anyway.

For all the years I've seen Cosby imitations, not once have I seen the words "pudding pops". Not that I should, but the guy hasn't done pudding pop commercials in twenty years. For that matter, why not parody his commercials for E F Hutton, filmed around the same time? For that matter, if comedians wish to keep current, why not riff about his recent tirades (in the press) against the bad examples in the African American Community? There's certainly some gold to mine there, if done right.

If "pudding pops" was the best the writing could do, and it wasn't a product placement, then they shouldn't have bothered. If you can't get mileage out of a dialogue on the show which does not advance the plot in any way, then they should at least get some advertising money out of it.

Another gripe: Matthew Perry is struggling to write an entire show. Cut to commercial break. We return. Matthew Perry is now looking at a wall of perfectly funny sketches. Do not tell me that you don't feel the least bit cheated in that episode.

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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Nick, don't you understand that the Cosby scene was supposed to be not funny? Both characters were mocking lazy, impression-based comedy, and I'm guessing that particular scene was not welcomed over at SNL, where Kenan Thompson has, for the last two seasons, done a lame impression of Bill Cosby that almost always ends with "dabble-dee-dabble pudding pop." The whole scene was a sharp in-joke.

The point of the second episode was to give a top-down perspective on the writing of a weekly television show, hence the emphasis on the ticking clock. If Sorkin's previous series are any indication, I expect we'll see a lot of scenes set in writers' rooms. So, no, I didn't feel the least bit cheated.

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Nick, don't you understand that the Cosby scene was supposed to be not funny? Both characters were mocking lazy, impression-based comedy, and I'm guessing that particular scene was not welcomed over at SNL, where Kenan Thompson has, for the last two seasons, done a lame impression of Bill Cosby that almost always ends with "dabble-dee-dabble pudding pop." The whole scene was a sharp in-joke.

Darren,

I didn't say the scene had to be funny; I complained that it did not advance the story in any way. Granted, I understand in a Sorkin universe you're going to have these storylines that mix and mingle and pretend to be "True to Life" and just sit there, but I found the scene kinda oblivious. Hughley is hired, has been for five years, and he's still worried because he can't do impressions? Shouldn't he have an arsenal of characters he's built from the ground up, not unlike Tracy Morgan? Perhaps it was Sorkin's way of filling in Hughley's back story, but I didn't care... how the heck did he get hired on an SNL show if he was not actively pursuing it, was a serious drama actor at Yale, and did not perform stand-up or improv? Is he the stand-in for Anthony Michael Hall or Randy Quaid?!?

Thanks for bringing to mind Kenan Thompson... okay, I remember (SNL was such a blur this past season I've almost completely blocked it from memory). But even Thompson brought Cosby back due to his tirades, so that was current news.

I did not get that impression that it mocked impressionists; no doubt, not everybody on SNL was meant to be an impressionist (like Tina Fey wasn't). But there will always be impressionists on SNL because parody is funny, and impressionists are a way of staying current. If Sorkin thinks he can just glide by on out-of-character Broadway show parody songs, his show is going to be in its own bubble.

The point of the second episode was to give a top-down perspective on the writing of a weekly television show, hence the emphasis on the ticking clock. If Sorkin's previous series are any indication, I expect we'll see a lot of scenes set in writers' rooms. So, no, I didn't feel the least bit cheated.

It better. The jury is still out on this one; he could very well continue the trend of bringing out the worst of the show--unfunny sketches (supplemented by "this (unseen sketch) _killed_!) while focusing on romantic triangles and unseen/un-dealt-with protesters.

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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But reallly, a ticking clock as a visual reminder of an impending deadline? Brilliant, Mr. Sorkin...absolutely fresh and innovative. It really drove home to me the constant pressure the writers were under in a way I had never considered before.

I thought it was funny.

And maybe even a subtle joke from Sorkin... stooping to the level of the MASSIVE RED DIGITAL COUNTDOWN to create suspense. I actually cheered when they discovered it.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I loved the clock. I thought the introduction of the clock was the funniest part of the episode.

Which isn't to say anyone else should feel obligated to find the clock funny. But, by the same token, I'm not going to feel obligated to find it derivative.

It had a face like Robert Tilton's -- without the horns.

- Steve Taylor, "Cash Cow"

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Ok, so, for the last two weeks, the title of the unseen sketch that set this whole show in motion, "Crazy Christians," has been rattling around in my brain looking for something familiar to latch onto.

And just now, I mean, right this instant, it hit me.

Isaac Air Freight.

Anyone here remember Isaac Air Frieght? They were a Christian comedy team from the late 70's, Maranatha Records.

Their first album, Fun in the Son featured a sketch entitled "Crazy Christians" that sounded like an ad for a monster truck night. I'm drawing a blank on the content, but I do remember thinking it was a hoot.

That album also featured classic bits such as "Jerusalem Dragnet," "Jesus Junkie" (yo, dude, I've got it bad. I mean look at these tracts.), and a Monty Hall tribute "Let's Trade Your Salvation."

I feel better now.

Of course, I'm now going to spend the night remembering all sorts of 70's Jesus Stuff. Music Machine anyone?

Jesus is not a zombie...I shouldn't have to tell you that.

--Agent Booth, Bones

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That album also featured classic bits such as "Jerusalem Dragnet," "Jesus Junkie" (yo, dude, I've got it bad. I mean look at these tracts.), and a Monty Hall tribute "Let's Trade Your Salvation."

I feel better now.

Of course, I'm now going to spend the night remembering all sorts of 70's Jesus Stuff. Music Machine anyone?

Wait wait wait. This is sounding familiar except for the Isaac Air Freight part. I totally remember Jerusalem Dragnet. Was that really the name of the duo? Are you confusing them with someone else? Are we hijacking this thread? (If I could see the cover of the cassette tape [boy, we are old], I'd know for sure. Looks like I have some Googling to do!)

edited to add: Okay, that was fast. It was Isaac Air Freight! I listened to that Snooze Ya Looze tape incessantly. This only confirms what I already believed - that you and I had the exact came childhood in parallel universes.

Edited by Sara Zarr

Sara Zarr

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sarazarr.com

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Those sketch titles sound so, uh, Firesign Theater in a christian context. I detested Maranatha so much back then (hated most of the music) that I never thought the comedy would even be funny. Sorry about the hijack.

"During the contest trial, the Coleman team presented evidence of a further 6500 absentees that it felt deserved to be included under the process that had produced the prior 933 [submitted by Franken, rk]. The three judges finally defined what constituted a 'legal' absentee ballot. Countable ballots, for instance, had to contain the signature of the voter, complete registration information, and proper witness credentials.

But the panel only applied the standards going forward, severely reducing the universe of additional basentees the Coleman team could hope to have included. In the end, the three judges allowed about 350 additional absentees to be counted. The panel also did nothing about the hundreds, possibly thousands, of absentees that have already been legally included, yet are now 'illegal' according to the panel's own ex-post definition."

The Wall Street Journal editorial, April 18, 2009 concerning the Franken Coleman decision in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race of 2008.

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This only confirms what I already believed - that you and I had the exact came childhood in parallel universes.

You could be right. Of course, we must all be Crazy Christians to think that something like Studio 60 could ever be appropriate for God fearin folk :P

Those sketch titles sound so, uh, Firesign Theater in a christian context. I detested Maranatha so much back then (hated most of the music) that I never thought the comedy would even be funny. Sorry about the hijack.

Looking back on it now, I'm kind of surprised IAF was able to do half the stuff they did. They were quite cutting edge for the subculture. That being said, one of the sadder things I remember from that time from Maranatha was a choir album they did featuring a song by a young Steve Taylor. It was very very sad. (And no, it wasn't the other Steve Taylor that went on to do tons of other sad Maranatha choir music, but an actual pre-clone ST.)

Now that we've totally derailed this thread into OT memory lane regurgitations, I suppose we should give the nice people back their topic. ::blush::

Jesus is not a zombie...I shouldn't have to tell you that.

--Agent Booth, Bones

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Yes, I kind of liked the "Pimp My Trike" idea. At least something on that show was potentially funny. Science Schmience sure wasn't. Sorkin needs to hire somebody who has a clue of how to write sketch comedy.

Edited by Crow
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There were parts of it that had potential, but yes, on the whole that sketch seemed like a very realistic recreation of a bad SNL piece.

I did like "I'm sorry, but the correct answer was 'because the secularists have weakened God's shield of protection' " -- that made me laugh.

It had a face like Robert Tilton's -- without the horns.

- Steve Taylor, "Cash Cow"

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I loved the "She can make the lights turn on and off all by herself" line...

And in general though the Christian character was well represented again.

"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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She was a Christian before, because the reason they broke up was she went on the 700 club; at least, that's what I got from the pilot.

I loved her Holly Hunter impersonation. And the "God loves me and hates you two" line.

I think I would have liked Science Schmience better if the questions weren't all for the Jew and Christian (except for Tom Cruise--and the dude could not give a good Cruise impersonation, IMO). Would have been interesting to see the Taliban response to something.

I would have died to see the gun/bear piece on the "news". I can see why they didn't, but everyone says how great Harriet is; I would have liked to see an example on the show itself.

Oh, and the way they set up the blocking before the prayer? I thought for sure we were about to see a song and dance number, starring Danny Tripp. Wouldn't that have been awesome? :D

(Just kidding!) (Kind of...)

Subtlety is underrated
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There's something wrong with a sketch comedy show if the bantor during the rehearsals is funnier than the actual act. "Science Schmience" is a travesty on nearly every level: too many characters, too many complicated concepts; and not enough yuks. Dude... Sorkin... it's SKETCH comedy, not a PHD dissertation. Inebriated folks coming home from a night on the town are not going to register with all of the bantor that makes the West Wing work.

How a show like this "improves" upon its ratings the second week makes me understand how President Bartlett won his re-election bid.

Edited by Nick Alexander

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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Okay, Nick, I'm with you this time, and I'm beginning to worry that your description of the Science Schmience sketch -- "too many characters, too many complicated concepts" -- is also apt for Sorkin's dramedy. I love the show whenever Bradley Whitford, Tim Busfield, Matthew Perry, and to a lesser extent Amanda Peet and Sarah Paulson are on-screen. Otherwise, last night's episode in particular was really uneven. Nate Corddry and D.L. Hughley are losing me, and I was tempted to flip the channel every time Steven Weber made an appearance.

I'm rewatching the second season of the West Wing right now, and last night I saw the episode in which Josh, Sam, Donna, Ainsley and the writing staff spend a long night working to "bring the funny" to the President's speech for the big press dinner. Sorkin used the exact same structure for the episode, ending with a scene where all of them are firing off jokes that are supposed to convince us that the group is really on fire. In that episode, the scene still works because it isn't really about the jokes at all; it's about Toby, who has just entered the room after learning that Bartlett has MS. As I recall, the camera ends on Toby's face, which is too distracted to be amused. The problem with last night's episode of Studio 60 is that it was totally and completely about the jokes, and except for the one about the bear (which was the kind of joke I'll miss now that Tina Fey is no longer anchoring SNL news) none of them were funny.

Edited by Darren H
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Yeah, the comedy wasn't all that funny. Kind of like real-world SNL. I'm not crazy about Harriett, but I like her. For me, the strengths of the show and what make it interesting to my sensibilities are:

- The friendship between Matt & Danny. Their ease with each other, love for each other, and concern for each other is very natural and well established without getting sentimental.

- The inner workings of the studio. I like dark lord Steven Weber vs. Amanda Peet's idealist. Will she go over to the dark side? She can't stay so likeable to the cast and crew of the show and still keep her job, so this will be an ongoing tension.

(Darren - you're right. That bear joke was SO Tina Fey.)

Edited by Sara Zarr

Sara Zarr

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sarazarr.com

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(Darren - you're right. That bear joke was SO Tina Fey.)

Speaking of Tina Fey, I must say that I highly anticipate the season premiere of "30 Rock." The commercials they had during Studio 60 were just plain hysterical. "Where's Amanda Peet? I really want to meet Amanda..."

My prediction: Fey + Baldwin = pure comedic genius.

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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The problem with last night's episode of Studio 60 is that it was totally and completely about the jokes, and except for the one about the bear (which was the kind of joke I'll miss now that Tina Fey is no longer anchoring SNL news) none of them were funny.

I agree completely.

Sara seems to like the show, and I'm trying to give it a chance, but I'm not sure I'll still have enough interest to tune in every week.

I must say that I highly anticipate the season premiere of "30 Rock." The commercials they had during Studio 60 were just plain hysterical. "Where's Amanda Peet? I really want to meet Amanda..."

I discovered this morning that Rachel Dratch is going to have a much smaller role on the show. Many are speculating that it is because she is not traditionally (for Hollywood) attractive. If that is true, I'm going to fire off an angry letter to NBC.

Edited by TexasWill

"If the Christian subculture exists primarily to condemn the world, you can be sure that Jesus is not having any part of it." - John Fischer

"Ignorance is excusable when it is borne like a cross, but when it is wielded like an axe, and with moral indignation, then it becomes something else indeed." - Flannery O'Connor

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(Darren - you're right. That bear joke was SO Tina Fey.)

Speaking of Tina Fey, I must say that I highly anticipate the season premiere of "30 Rock." The commercials they had during Studio 60 were just plain hysterical. "Where's Amanda Peet? I really want to meet Amanda..."

My prediction: Fey + Baldwin = pure comedic genius.

Oh, I agree. "When do I get to meet Sorkin?" And the look on Fey's face. Excellent.

Subtlety is underrated
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