Saturday, August 14, 2010

Strip Streaming

Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip is now available for streaming on Netflix. You could watch them all in one day.

Here's a review of sorts by Neil Drumming. He makes some good points:

...the characters are way too dire. Actors Bradley Whitford, Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, D.L. Hughley and others play a gang of preening Hollywood types of both the executive and creative strains who alternate appropriately between neurotic, self-absorbed, overbearing, and occasionally entertaining, while trying to put funny routines on the air. Unfortunately, I find it incredibly hard to believe that any of these sourpusses—perhaps with the exception of Perry's cutesy curmudgeon Matt Albee [sic]—would be capable of cobbling together a sketch even as funny as, say, SNL's Barry Gibb Talk Show. Secondly, the show struggled, often in vain, to tackle weighty Sorkin-esque issues: censorship, the Christian right, homophobia, addiction, responsible journalism, responsible television, war, etc.

I had a fondness for the show, but so often it seemed a hangover from The West Wing. I thought there was enough inherent drama in putting on a live comedy show that they didn't need "big" issues. What they did need, though, was better comedy. Not necessarily on the show within a show, but on Studio 60 in general. It didn't have to be a straight comedy, but it should have been a lot lighter on its feet.

Drumming states

A friend of mine pointed out that it probably didn't help the show's chances that 30 Rock, an almost identically-themed program, came out around the same time and was patently hilarious week after week from jump.

I don't know. Studio 60 was the most highly anticipated show of the season. It opened to decent numbers and critical approval. At the time, everyone felt sorry for Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin stuck on their second-class sitcom. Those two even made fun of that perception in their promos.

Studio 60 tanked because the audience found nothing to make them come back. By the halfway point in the season it had shed half its viewers. Actually, 30 Rock's ratings were no better, but the show was cheaper to produce so flailing NBC kept it around.


Anonymous Brian said...

While I stuck around and watched the complete (and only) season of "STUDIO 60", it never found its stride. Here are a couple of personal pet peeves:

1. Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry BOTH had drug problems. Hey, Aaron, I know you had a drug problem of your own, and were perfectly justified in exploring the phenomenon in a show based in the entertaiment industry, but did BOTH main characters have to be addicts? This overkill seemed very unnecessary and indulgent.

2. Sarah Paulson. As the female lead, she was lacking.

Too bad. It was a good idea with big talent - Sorkin, Schlamme - and big money behind it.

Now, instead, Sorkin is wasting his time writing overhyped biopics about internet lottery winners.

Lucrative, perhaps, but for a guy of his talent, unworthy.

8:33 AM, August 16, 2010  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

I've never followed a Sorkin series that I recall. I tried to watch Studio 60, partly becase we had taken a studio tour the summer before it aired, and got to see the set at WB. But it just took itself too seriously.

I would have liked to see a fictionalized seried based on the early years of SNL, with an adict who was funny (and probably fat), and a real mish mash of talent. Can you recommend a good book on the first decade of SNL (not just John Belushi?).

9:15 AM, August 16, 2010  
Blogger LAGuy said...

The two best books about the phenomenon are Live From New York: An Uncensored History Of Saturday Night Live by Miller and Shales--an oral history with almost every name participating that goes up to around 2000--and Saturday Night: A Backstage History Of Saturday Night Live by Hill and Weingrad--published two decades ago and concentrating on the first five years of the show.

I don't think it was just Belushi who was into drugs at the time.

9:35 AM, August 16, 2010  

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