Monday, September 18, 2006


Two of the big new NBC shows will soon debut, and you may need some help to tell them apart.

I'm referring to 30 Rock and Studio 60. They're both backstage looks at Saturday-Night-Live-type shows. Even the titles sound the same. (One takes place in New York, the other in Los Angeles, so they're completely different.)

30 Rock is a one-camera, no laughtrack, half-hour sitcom created by Tina Fey. It stars Fey as the headwriter of the live comedy Girlie Show, with Alec Baldwin as the network suit and Tracy Morgan as the unstable star. I thought Fey did a good job writing the film Mean Girls, and she's been the headwriter of SNL itself, but neither are sitcoms. It's a tricky form that's defeated greater talents. (Mel Tolkin, a great TV writer, once said it's just as hard to create a bad show as a good one.) I'm most looking forward to Baldwin, who's shown his comedy chops in recent years.

Critics are more interested in Studio 60, created by Aaron Sorkin. It's an hourlong behind-the-scenes-at-a-live-comedy-show drama, sort of a West Wing meets Saturday Night Live. I'm looking forward to it, but I see two major potential problems.

First, the two lead men are Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford. Both are talented actors, but with similar comic styles. They may not play well against each other.

Second, Sorkin's best work (West Wing, A Few Good Men) feature a symbiotic relation between his lively dialogue and his melodramatic plots. Backstage at a comedy show isn't exactly life and death. Studio 60 sounds more like Sports Night.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prediction: Sorkin's show will be picked up, Fey show will bomb immediately.

9:27 PM, September 18, 2006  

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