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Nice progress. Too bad it's doomed.
I wanted to like this show, but I just can't. I missed last night's ep, but I caught up on it on the TV boards... and Harriet, good Southern Baptist that she is, admitted to not believing in abstinence before marriage.

On the one hand, this allows for a fully three-dimensional character, but on the other hand, she just lost me as a viewer of the show, on the sole reason why I would keep watching... Either Sorkin does not trust his audience (so as to cave on a very particular attribute that most Christians adhere to) or he does not know enough about Southern Baptists/Evangelical Christians).

Either way, the comedy was never funny (even "bad" funny) enough, the characters are unlikeable, and the stories' conflict resolutions are often too pat and tidy.

Which is a shame--it had a great pilot. Now, four episodes in, I truly couldn't care less.

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

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

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Nick:

...Harriet, good Southern Baptist that she is, admitted to not believing in abstinence before marriage. On the one hand, this allows for a fully three-dimensional character...

What would have been better for her character development is if she'd have sincerely said, "Of course sex before marraige is a sin, but, um, sometimes I haven't been the most faithful practitioner of God's will. I can only ask for his forgiveness." That's what I see in Harriet.

On the other hand, now we know Sorkin and Chenoweth were doin' it.

Dale

Metalfoot on Emmanuel Shall Come to Thee's Noel: "...this album is...monotony...bland, tripy fare..."

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On the other hand, now we know Sorkin and Chenoweth were doin' it.

For the first time in her life, Chenoweth feels ... wicked.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I skipped it last night. I was home, I knew it was on, but I watched a film instead.* If a few of you are still enjoying the show at the end of the season, maybe I'll catch up with it on DVD.

* I watched the new Criterion release of My Night at Maud's, and, dang, that is a great movie -- even better than I'd remembered. Now, Rohmer can write dialogue. ;)

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Either Sorkin does not trust his audience (so as to cave on a very particular attribute that most Christians adhere to) or he does not know enough about Southern Baptists/Evangelical Christians).

This is probably something for another thread, or no thread at all...but I would strongly question this statement about "most Christians." The older I get and the more people I get to know, the more this "most" is more like "some." Sorkin may know more about SBs/ECs than we like to think.

As for last night's ep: It was a mixed bag for me. The stuff from the sketches was pretty bad, and a lot of the side plots kind of...meh. But I was genuinely moved and inspired by Jordan's story line, and the scenes between Matthew Perry and Sarah P. had great chemistry. Also the stuff between Christine Lahti and Matthew P. Basically, Matthew Perry and Amanda Peet keep me watching. I see awards in their futures.

I was disappointed they didn't use Lauren Graham more, but it looks like that will be remedied next week.

Sara Zarr

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On the other hand, now we know Sorkin and Chenoweth were doin' it.

You know, I've been thinking about this, and I'd like to leave the benefit of the doubt. Sorkin is obviously very fond of Harriet, having his doppleganger (M.P.) fall more in love with her each ensuing episode. It could very likely mean that Harriet is whom he wanted Kristin Chenoweth (and, by implication, all Christians) to be, rather than who she presently is. That they are no longer together may mean that this may have been a sticking point.

This is probably something for another thread, or no thread at all...but I would strongly question this statement about "most Christians." The older I get and the more people I get to know, the more this "most" is more like "some." Sorkin may know more about SBs/ECs than we like to think.

Sara, do you mean that there is a sizeable number of single SB/EC Christians in your circles that (1) have done it, (2) boldly (3) without regret, (4) knowing their Scriptures?

That is my impression of whom Harriet is, that she knows her Scriptures, but disagrees with them on this point. It is my experience that this is the vast minority. I'm wondering if the single non-virgin SBs/ECs you have run across did so "as a momentary weakness" and have since repented, or did so "before they got saved."

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

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

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Apparently I really, really missed an important detail when I got up to make some tea and a bowl of Haagen Dasz Coffee ice cream.

I didn't catch this development at all.

Huh.

Well, that really does ring false to me.

But I think it would be a big presumption to conclude that all details here also apply to Sorkin/Chenoweth. He may be borrowing some details from his experience, but it's risky to say that he's writing his autobiography. He might have included this detail as a slap to the woman who refused him. Or maybe he just did it because it leaves viewers in suspense that they really might get it on in a future episode. Whatever the case, this is the first detail along the way that has really disappointed me (and I didn't even see it, so hopefully I catch it on a re-broadcast to see how it sounded in context).

I do think that last night's episode actually weakened Harriet's character, because her confessions to the reporter made it sound like Sorkin is just giving her a conveniently troubled background so that her faith will make sense as a security blanket and people will view her with a sort of affectionate pity.

But this show is about so much more than Harriet. I appreicate it most for its commentary on television itself... its potential and its problems.

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'm wondering if the single non-virgin SBs/ECs you have run across did so "as a momentary weakness" and have since repented, or did so "before they got saved."

Neither - more of a defeatest feeling when they get into their late twenties and thirties that abstinence isn't possible (not helped by the adultery and sexual misbehavior in the church at large, esp. when it's among those in power), and getting tired of waiting for God to bring someone along. And that it's not that big of a deal.

I haven't read the whole book, just excerpts, but Ron Sider's "The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience: Why are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World?" seems to indicate that my experience with/perception of my single friends isn't that far off, on the whole.

Anyway - if you want to bring it to further discussion, we should probably start a diff. thread.

Edited by Sara Zarr

Sara Zarr

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and Harriet, good Southern Baptist that she is, admitted to not believing in abstinence before marriage.

Um... as a Southern Baptist:

The difference between Harriet and other Southern Baptist's her age is that she's a lot more honest.

Which isn't to say that all Southern Baptists are unchaste -- some certainly are. This is to say, however, that there are plenty of people willing to rationalize anything, and just because you believe in God and Jesus and Heaven and Hell doesn't mean you're any more or less likely to rationalize away your favorite temptation. Or, to put it in a slightly different vein:

"What's the difference between a Methodist and a Southern Baptist?"

"The Methodist will say hello to you in the liquor store."

Also, that particular character aspect makes her relationship with Perry's character a lot more believable.

But whatever. I suppose we will now accuse Sorkin of not being Baptist enough. How dare that athiest not be Baptist enough!

o_O

Edited by The Baptist Death Ray

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

- Steve Taylor, "Cash Cow"

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and Harriet, good Southern Baptist that she is, admitted to not believing in abstinence before marriage.

The difference between Harriet and other Southern Baptist's her age is that she's a lot more honest.

Which isn't to say that all Southern Baptists are unchaste -- some certainly are. This is to say, however, that there are plenty of people willing to rationalize anything, and just because you believe in God and Jesus and Heaven and Hell doesn't mean you're any more or less likely to rationalize away your favorite temptation. Or, to put it in a slightly different vein:

The issue here to me is not that Harriet admits to having premarital sex. Or even that she seems to feel there's no problem with it morally. As others in the thread have mentioned, plenty of Christians of the type Harriet seems to be based on have done it, and plenty have come up with ways to rationalize it.

The problem to me is that she doesn't seem to give any indication that she knows that view ("I don't have a problem with premarital sex") is not one that any sizeable majority of "her type" would hold. Many no doubt have premarital sex, and many justify it (especially to themselves), but everyone knows the party line is still that premarital sex is wrong and don't do it. So if she differs from the typical thinking on this, she would have been expected to acknowledge this.

Also, that particular character aspect makes her relationship with Perry's character a lot more believable.

Yes, this I definitely agree with. Though it's not something I had thought about until this episode made me consider it.

"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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The problem to me is that she doesn't seem to give any indication that she knows that view ("I don't have a problem with premarital sex") is not one that any sizeable majority of "her type" would hold. Many no doubt have premarital sex, and many justify it (especially to themselves), but everyone knows the party line is still that premarital sex is wrong and don't do it. So if she differs from the typical thinking on this, she would have been expected to acknowledge this.

Well, yes, I see what you mean, and it's a good point.

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

- Steve Taylor, "Cash Cow"

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A lot of this is about cultural context and milieu. Long before Sandy Patti got divorced and Micheal English cheated on his wife and other such things, christians in the public eye tended to have complicated personal lives that "typical" EC's would have attempted to shun a little more forcefully. Rather than being a twisted icon for EC's, Harriett is probably more in line with christians in her profession, ie. not of easy virtue, but susceptible to intimacy in a close relationship characterized by pressure, with someone not necessarily of her faith.

"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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and Harriet, good Southern Baptist that she is, admitted to not believing in abstinence before marriage.

Um... as a Southern Baptist:

The difference between Harriet and other Southern Baptist's her age is that she's a lot more honest.

Which isn't to say that all Southern Baptists are unchaste -- some certainly are. This is to say, however, that there are plenty of people willing to rationalize anything, and just because you believe in God and Jesus and Heaven and Hell doesn't mean you're any more or less likely to rationalize away your favorite temptation. Or, to put it in a slightly different vein:

"What's the difference between a Methodist and a Southern Baptist?"

"The Methodist will say hello to you in the liquor store."

Also, that particular character aspect makes her relationship with Perry's character a lot more believable.

But whatever. I suppose we will now accuse Sorkin of not being Baptist enough. How dare that athiest not be Baptist enough!

o_O

Another favorite.

"Why should you always bring two Baptists with you on a fishing trip?"

"If you only bring one Baptist, he'll drink all your beer." :)

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Another favorite.

"Why should you always bring two Baptists with you on a fishing trip?"

"If you only bring one Baptist, he'll drink all your beer." :)

LOL.

I'd never heard that one before!

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

- Steve Taylor, "Cash Cow"

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Can we agree to agree that Monday's episode was truly awful, as well as borderline offensive? Midwesterners are out-of-touch hicks who have never heard "Who's on First?". All blacks have no taste in comedy (except, of course, for our black cast member). Throw in all that expository learnin' and cheap parallelism (the Sid Caesar guy writes well to impress a girl he likes), and...I don't know. I'll give Sorkin a couple more episodes to redeem himself, I guess. But.

Dale

Metalfoot on Emmanuel Shall Come to Thee's Noel: "...this album is...monotony...bland, tripy fare..."

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Can we agree to agree that Monday's episode was truly awful, as well as borderline offensive?

I liked it. :)

Yes, I can still feel the hammer marks on my head when it comes to the socio-political commentary, but I still think it's a good show. I've said it before, but I think Matthew Perry and Amanda Peet are so outstanding in this. I love Eli Wallach. Sorkin comes so close sometimes to being right on, and then just pushes it too far. But so few shows even come close.

Sara Zarr

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Can we agree to agree that Monday's episode was truly awful, as well as borderline offensive? Midwesterners are out-of-touch hicks who have never heard "Who's on First?". All blacks have no taste in comedy (except, of course, for our black cast member). Throw in all that expository learnin' and cheap parallelism (the Sid Caesar guy writes well to impress a girl he likes), and...I don't know. I'll give Sorkin a couple more episodes to redeem himself, I guess. But.

Full disclosure: I'm not the Sorkin obsessive that morefield is. Wasn't too excited about Sports Night, didn't get curious baout West Wing until I stumbled on an episode or two that were slightly fair to conservative POV's, and of course, Ainsley Hayes.

Yes, for a while I was offended at The Parents. Even though Columbus is The Heart Of Darkness for folks in this state (especially those who are Kroger employees), BUT. But, it occured to me, on further reflection, that my folks would not even have come to a live broadcast of the comedy show I was writing for. My folks are so disdainful of sports that the sports references in "Who's On First" would work (barely) only as wordplay jokes, one meaning of which would possibly be a mystery. Mom HATES Abbott & Costello. Dad thinks comedy and sports both, to be collosal wastes of time. Making millions in comedy to him would be morally equal to being happy to be on the dole all my life. He'd wonder when I would do something worthwhile with my life. And they are reasonably well informed, just overly discriminating about what they absorb.

I disagree on the racial thing too. This has been a battle in comedy for a long time. It has gone way beyond Cosby v Pryor/Murphy and bad language. Anybody ever watch Def Comedy Jam? Much of it was hidious. And I have a high tolerance for comedy that crosses the line. The accidental discovery of the raw recruit was really quite touching for me. And the discussion between Perry and Hughely about black writers was spot on. That conversation goes on constantly even though it is an old conversation. I was impressed that both characters got out of it with their dignity and intelligence intact. I'm not sure that either plotline must be seen as housing universal characters.

"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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It has gone way beyond Cosby v Pryor/Murphy and bad language.
From my understanding (not to derail the thread), Cosby and Pryor were friends. Both started in Greenwich Village, and there was a time where the Cos was all successful, having branched off into television, movies, and children's programming, and Pryor was still doing standup and behind-the-scenes stuff (like what he did for Blazing Saddles). The Cos had nothing but praise for Pryor when he was on the 1972 broadcast of Dick Cavett (available on DVD, which is how I saw it). Interesting stuff.

I think Pryor was a genius, as there was a heart behind his expletive-laced rants. Once expletives started being used more commonplace in stand-up, (along with a lot of demeaning epithets, crass stereotypes, and raunchiness that would surely make Pryor blush) that's when the Cos spoke out. But at least in the very beginning, it was not like that.

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

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

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Oh, I agree. Most of the Cosby/Pryor battles were waged between libertines and prudes. They rarely commented on each other's careers publicly. This is what I meant by going beyond. I wonder what Pryor would say about much of the comedy today. I brought it up in order to express sympathy for Hughely's character's rants on the subject.

"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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While Cosby and Pryor never had words in public, there were two camps among comedy fans and critics. I should have been more precise about that. Back then, Cosby was criticized (before there was an Eddie Murphy, comedy star) as being too straight and not being real. Back then, I happened to like both Cosby and Pryor. Then, both Cosby and Murphy. Now, the low stuff is pretty low.

"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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I still am enjoying Studio 60. There have been more moments when I am reminded I am watching a Sorkin show, but since I like Sorkin shows that's a good thing for me. I am particularly liked the dialogue between Matt and the reporter that opened the episode before last.

Number one sin, of course, continues to be that it isn't funny. Right after I watched episode about black comedy, I saw Daily Show on TiVo and the black "correspondent" did a bit on outsourcing orphans (complete with Stewarts feigned "you can't say that!" apoplexy) that was funnier than anything I've seen in five weeks of a show about brilliant comedic writers.

Yeah, that's the biggest problem so far. Sorkin hired a lot of different political consultants on The West Wing (Dee Dee Meyers, Peggy Noonan, Lawrence O' Donnell was a producer and writer, etc.) and I had wondered if hiring some sketch comedy veterans would make much of a difference. Today I see that he has brought on SNL and Kids in the Hall vet Mark McKinney to Studio 60. I don't really remember McKinney from SNL. Is anyone familiar with anything that McKinney has written?

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I finally caught the last episode on tape. It wasn't terrible, but I thought it was the weakest one yet. A little too heavy handed and preachy. I'm not ready to give up on it yet, though.

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Despite my misgivings, I'm not happy to see this: the demise of "Studio 60" is apparently imminent. From Fox News:

[D]espite receiving an order for three more episodes on Friday, the Aaron Sorkin NBC drama "Studio 60 on Sunset Strip" is about to be put out of its misery.

Cast members are already confiding in friends that the end is near. It's likely NBC will pull the plug shortly[,] I am told by insiders....

According to ratings stats, the "Saturday Night Live" behind the scenes soap opera loses almost half the viewers delivered to it a few minutes earlier by another new show, "Heroes," which has become a surprise cult hit.

On Monday, 'Heroes' had 14.3 million viewers. The substantial drop off with 'Studio 60' is probably the last nail in its coffin. The order of the three extra episodes is considered by insiders to be a contractual move, and not one based on faith that they will ever be made or aired. The all important demo situation didn't help: 'Heroes' had 15 percent of viewers aged 18-49. Studio 60 had 8 percent. The notion that 'Studio 60' is a big draw for NBC among desirables is, sadly, blown on those stats.

Dale

Edited by M. Dale Prins

Metalfoot on Emmanuel Shall Come to Thee's Noel: "...this album is...monotony...bland, tripy fare..."

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Now there's a new report saying that -- gasp! -- Fox News was wrong:

A Fox News Report that NBC's heavily promoted "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" would be dropped from the schedule created a frisson Monday, but [it] appears to be premature.

An NBC representative said in an email the show hasn't been cancelled. The rep wrote: "It is profitable at this point." In fact, the network has ordered three more episodes of the show.

"Studio 60" is scheduled to air next Monday in its usual 10 p.m. slot, although a boffo performance by "Friday Night Lights" in the slot last night--where it was placed for a trial run--could potentially change things. But a more likely scenario would be a time-period change for "Studio 60"--not a retirement--a source said....

One of the reasons NBC might stick with it is the show's upscale profile, which can make it attractive to advertisers: Through Oct. 8, it ranked fourth among all network shows in median income for the 18-to-49 demo at $66,000....

Dale

Metalfoot on Emmanuel Shall Come to Thee's Noel: "...this album is...monotony...bland, tripy fare..."

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