Saturday, October 28, 2006

Three New Scripts ordered, and other topics on S60's survival

NBC has ordered three new scripts for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, presumably to help aid in their decision on whether to sign the show for a whole season. A lot of shows this season and last have had that happen to them, and the good news is that this usually leads to the signing of a whole season. Still some new shows on the Big 4 have already been signed to a whole season (NBC's Heroes, CBS' Shark and Jericho and ABC's Ugly Betty and Brothers & Sisters) but these are shows getting phenomenal ratings.

Heroes is the only show for NBC (and the fate of NBC shows are the only ones that really need to be worried about, because they will determine if S60 stays) that has been signed to a new season, and is the only breakout hit for them. Studio 60's ratings are actually the second best of new NBC shows. Friday Night Lights, 30 Rock, Kidnapped and 20 Good Years all have worse ratings and Kidnapped and 20 Good Years are all but cancelled. This bodes well for Studio 60, as when you compare those comparative ratings, mixed with likely award show buzz, mixed with the relatively good demographics S60 gets, you have fairly good odds of survival. Besides NBC has a lot invested in Studio 60 and they might not be too keen to get out.

However, obviously these ratings aren't good and something needs to be done. What concrete changes (cast, timeslot) would you suggest? Personally, I think the show needs a major timeslot change. Heroes is a good show, but the kind of show Heroes is doesn't (in my mind) really lead into the kind of show Studio 60 is. I think The Office would be a much better lead-in (and this was their original plan) if that can't be mustered than I might suggest it get moved to Tuesdays where there isn't a hell of a lot going on right now. But what do you all think?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Episode Review: The Long Lead Story

Episode Rating: A-

This was a very good episode, and I remember at the time this being my favorite episode so far (obviously I'm writing this after The Wrap Party) so this has since changed.

I really liked Harriet's backstory and the depth given to her in this episode, and I thought Paulson played everything beautifully. Many in the online community seem to have a problem with Harriet that I've never understood, but she hasn't been one of my favorites either. I'm not sure if she's really one of my favorites now (because I like Danny, Matt, Cal, Tom, Simon, Jack and Jordan all more than her to be honest... which still makes her last of the main cast) but she's still a really cool character with a lot to her. Matt and Harriet's relationship has played a much bigger role in this show than I think it probably should, because this is the one episode where I was really captivated by their relationship.

I liked the whole "Nations" vs. "Search and Destroy" thing comparing good TV with bad TV and Jordan getting good TV at the end. I also loved how hilariously awful "Search and Destroy" sounded, and how Jordan was able to sum up it's awfulness with one call-back "MAYBE BOB'S THE FATHER?!" That was one of my favorite lines.

I loved Simon and Tom's bufoonish attempts at not revealing anything to Martha about Matt and Harriet, and how they just kept screwing it up worse and worse.

Lauren Graham's fun, but she was more fun in the next episode (I'm glad her role in both was short though, these are cameos) and Sting... I don't know. I'm not a big Sting fan and Martha oggling got old. Basically Martha got old, I just don't dig her character (and yet I liked her as Martha Moyer in the pilot) but oh well.

Good episode over-all though, I noticed the sketches themselves seemed to be pretty good this week.

Oh yeah, and Tom in a lobster costume for no apparent reason for most of the episode? Comedy gold.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Episode Review: The Wrap Party

Episode Rating: A+

What's that? I haven't done "The Long Lead Story"? Yeah, I know. But I just saw this episode and had to comment on it. I loved it sooooo much. This was just, yeah, very good... very big on character definition, this is (to me) the "The Crackpots and These Women" of this series, when it stops being interesting introduction and we start really getting to the creamy nougat-y center of these characters.

Tom's storyline was my favorite, and it looks like he's going to be our character with family/sibling issues (a la Dan Rydell and Josh Lyman) but I liked his, the whole Afghanistan was a definite surprise. The moment Tom was called "Mark" I knew that was going to be a sibling of his but the storyline came out of left field, I figured Mark was going to be dead like Dan's brother Sam and Josh's sister Joanie. But anyways, it was all well done the Jeter family is an interesting one and I hope we meet Mark at some point, as I'm curious as to the Tom/Mark dynamic.

Simon's I liked too, it surprised me that they made Willy Wills suck, as it kind of... changed the triumphalist nature of the show. The whole thing about Simon worked perfectly, we got the sense earlier that this was a street kid who's overcome adversity, gone to Yale and become somebody but specifying the situation of it all is what made it work. I liked the Darius Hawthorne bit too, although I think it was too much having the audience be so blatantly asshole-ish. I've been to comedy shows where the jokes just weren't working and I've never seen people be blatantly assholish, and even though Darius' delivery was horrible, his jokes were great themselves.

Jordan cracked me up tonight, and I'm glad Darren Wells was an asshole 'cause I disliked him right off the bat. I liked the Harriet and Jeannie camraderie too, although I'm really having trouble understand why Harriet is so comfortable with Jeannie? I mean, I get not hating her but to be friendly with her? Discussing her Matt situation with her? Seems unrealistic.

The Cal/Eli Weintraub thing was great too, and it reminded me of a storyline Charlie once had in The West Wing. Anyways, I like it. It was fun stuff, but not a favorite part or anything. I did like at the end with Matt and Danny coming in to learn from him, and Eli basically being Matt from 50 years ago.

And Jack trying to instigate a fight with Danny who just keeps munching on his snacks? Priceless. Good episode.

Oh, ha! Off the bat. I didn't even do that on purpose.

And yeah, The Long Lead Story's review is coming, that was a good one too.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

SPOILERS: Amanda Peet's pregnancy WILL be worked into the show

By now all fans of the show know Amanda Peet's pregnant, however the majority of us likely figured her pregnancy would not be worked in. We'd be wrong, as E! Online has reported that not only will the character of Jordan be pregnant, but that Danny will be the father which pretty much is confirmation that they're going the Jordan/Danny route (not that it wasn't obvious before.)

Other new spoilers include pop queen Jessica Simpson guest-starring as the musical guest in an upcoming episode, and West Wing-vet and all-around cool actor John Goodman guest-starring (likely not as the host) in an upcoming episode as well.

All in all, some really exciting information! I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Episode Review: The West Coast Delay

Episode Rating: A-

This was a very strong episode, and the first one that I think really approached The West Wing level of quality (and the first one which I've given any form of an 'A' too) It was definitely funny, I love the baseball bat stuff. I was a little confused by the whole Bombshell Babies (that's what they were called, right?) stuff but the whole phone number/jersey number confusion was hilarious. As was Tom deciding to be Matt's wingman. Tom is a great character, sort of a mix of Sam Seaborn and Jeremy Goodwin. I enjoy him immensely. I wish we saw him do more but right now he's my favorite character after Danny and Matt.

Speaking of Danny, he really wasn't in this one too much which is a shame as he's my favorite but when he was he was entertaining. I really enjoyed "Nice rack, by the way. Tell Jordan I'm not fifteen." Danny has a very enjoyable sense of self-confidence but it doesn't come off as cocky as Josh Lyman was. (Not that I minded Josh's cockiness as he was my favorite on his show) but still... I like that I'm at least getting a definite sense of why Danny is different than Josh, even though they do have plenty in common.

Martha O'Dell did not do it for me. I think Christine Lahti played her well enough, but just in general her as a character didn't 'knock my socks off' to use a now S60-ian term. Which is odd because I really liked Martha Moyer in the pilot who I'm sure is the basis for O'Dell. And in this episode I got hints of a Martha/Danny pairing which I didn't like for numerous reasons as Lahti's about a decade older than Bradley Whitford (and I know, I know, Whitford's pretty much equally older than Amanda Peet, and the "guy being older is acceptable" thing is a double standard, but some things just feel weird and some don't.) and also as her character just doesn't seem that cool. Hoping we see limited amounts of her.

The main plot of the story was nice and definitely served to add some layers to the as-of-yet-bland Ricky and Ron. So yeah, the whole loyalty aspect was nice. The last act also gave a very heightened West Wing feeling of anxiety which I enjoy too 'cause there never seemed to be enough pressure to equal the pressurized feeling everyone appeared to be under.

And how funny was it for Jack's appearance to be in the form of his shouting voice on the phone. I like very much that they had Steven Weber do that and we could clearly identify it as him.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Episode Review: The Focus Group

Episode Rating: B+

I know, I know, I'm embarassingly behind on these reviews, but I'm hoping to catch up. It is my solemn vow that this, The West Coast Delay and The Long Lead Story will all be reviewed by the time next week's episode airs. Anyways, to business!

I like this episode a lot. I'd say the first half was pretty wobbly and quite frankly I was nervous for it, but it really (for lack of a better word) sparkled in it's last two acts. The back and forths between Danny, Matt and Jeannie about Moliere and Commedia Dell'Arte felt very Sorkin-y and while I liked the first two episodes, this is the first time I truly felt like I was watching a Sorkin show. Like Danny, Matt, Harriet, Simon, Tom, Cal, Jeannie and even Jordan were a gang just as much as the White House Senior Staff and the folks at CSC were.

The episodes just keep confirming Danny/Jordan, don't they? I'm sorry folks, I'm a officially a Jordanny shipper (the only couple that I'd go so far as to call me a shipper of so far) But this episode continued to confirm it. She doesn't go to see Matt to talk about stuff and problems, she talks to Danny. When getting exciting ratings news she kisses Matt on the cheek but Danny on the lips. It's totally gonna be Danny/Jordan folks and I enjoy it. I think what makes me like it the most (besides Danny being my favorite character on this show and thus wanting him in a romance with the main female star elevating his overrall importance) is that it's unexpected. The promos, common sense, everything wanted to tell us that Matthew Perry's character and Amanda Peet's character, the two biggest stars and the two with top billing would have their character's romantically linked, but no! I don't know, I like things like that.

So a lot of people have had issues with the overreaching intellectualism in the show, as if Sorkin has a big megaphone and is saying "Hey! Here's some high culture! See how smart I am?" I really don't think that's it. He's just... smart. He writes smart things. He did so on The West Wing and quite frankly he did so on Sports Night.

Also, I think people are really ruining this show for themselves by getting out a magnifying glass and looking for all the instances where Sorkin might be being pretentious self-aggrandizing. Just watch the freaking show, people. It's pretty good. You think he's the first writer to vent his frustrations through his craft and use it as a kind of catharthis? He isn't, he just doesn't have the luxury that a lot of TV writers do of being cloaked in anonymity. Sure Matt and Harriet are clearly based on Sorkin and Kristin Chenoweth, but I mean... you don't think Ross and Rachel were probably based on a relationship of a Friends creator? This kind of stuff happens. So what? Personally I like that Sorkin puts so much of himself into his writing.

Back to this episode in particular though, I liked it a lot. My favorite part was totally the fight on the beach with "I'm three years younger and I'm faster than you, old man!" "I'm three years older and I'm stronger, little boy!" Whitford and Perry have some undeniable best friend chemistry. By now, those who know much about the behind the scenes shenanigan's at The West Wing, know there was kind of some animosity between Bradley Whitford and Rob Lowe, and I think that's one of the reasons that Josh and Sam (who for all intensive purposes appeared to be set up as the Dan and Casey or Danny and Matt of their show) ended up not being quite like that, because Whitford and Lowe didn't have that magnetic best friend chemistry. Whitford has it with Perry in spades. I couldn't have asked for two better leads (even if a part of me still thinks Perry might be better as Danny and Whitford as Matt, but that might just be my initial casting choices back in '05 talking.)

So, what was up with whole Simon/Random floozie/Tom thing at the end? Did that come out of nowhere or what? There've been a variety of different theories from this: From the idea that Simon's just, you know, not a manwhore to that he's gay. I think it's open to interpretation but I took it as nothing more than Simon being older and more mature than Tom and not needing that sort of validation anymore.

Anyways, as always leave all comments and thoughts and responses.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Episode Review: The Cold Open

Episode Rating: B

This was a good episode, but definitely not the strongest. There were a few hits and misses...

For one thing, major concerns on how they're going to keep Jordan and Jack involved, an issue which I've brought up before. Other than the opening teaser (which I really enjoyed) J&J didn't really cross paths with Danny, Matt and the gang. I don't know what to think about this. Either they'll A) Give Jordan and Jack their own storylines to deal with which I won't like but will make more sense or B) Keep them nonsensically too involved in the goings-on at Studio 60, which I won't like either. I like Jack and I like Jordan but I think if (for cost reasons) any of the characters need to be gotten rid of, it's the two of them.

Getting rid of them (if need to be) will hopefully give some room for Tom and Cal to play, because while I find them both likable and are played by two of my favorite actors on the show, they're doing nothing. How about we rectify that? I can see where Cal isn't exactly going to be a lead role, and I know that Busfield also produces the show so I guess he's got some other responsibilities but, c'mon people, this is an ensemble. As for Tom, I don't see why he's being so under-utilized at all. He should be a fairly major player, being a Big Three.

I wasn't sure what to think about Simon in the pilot (obviously) but I've decided I definitely like him. The concerns with the voices was a funny one, and I like the interraction between him and Danny and enjoyed that they both had valid 'sides', Danny's ideals vs. Simon's loyalty. So, yes, definitely like Simon. I think D.L. Hughley does a good job with him too, but he's got to learn to enunciate a little better. When I first read the pilot I saw Taye Diggs in the role (Ironically I also saw Matthew Perry playing Danny and Bradley Whitford playing Matt, before either of their names had been mentioned in conjunction with the show. Considering Matthew's *named* Matt, it probably makes more sense to switch them around) and I still think he might have been better suited for it. I buy Simon as someone with steadfast loyalty and insecurities he keeps hidden, I just don't see him as Yale-educated and that was my favorite thing about Simon in the script. Anyways, at this point Simon's my favorite of the Big Three, but just have a few qualms.

Harriet and Matt... not sure. I think judgment will need to be held off on. I think they have an interesting dynamic, and I enjoy the essential conflict that Sorkin has given them. I don't really share the concerns of those who are bitching out Sarah Paulson's portrayal, claiming she's not making Harriet funny. I'm not entirely convinced she's *supposed* to be funny at this point. She took the break-up really hard, the show's a wreck, her religion is supposed to be a wreck. Not exatly much room to show her humor chops. People need to chill out with some of their concerns about the bringing of the 'funny.' Majorly chill out.

Matthew Perry is bringing it. I'm really enjoying him and the character of Matt. Ditto Brad and his portrayal of Danny. The two of them are the best thing about this show, and I will imagine they'll continue to be.

Put me in the column of those who really enjoyed the opening sketch. I found it awesome, and not because I know or even like musicals (Gilbert & Sullivan I always confuse with Rogers & Hammerstein) but just because I thought the whole thing was inspired. A little too much repetition with the lines in it though. 'Intellectual reacharound' was priceless though.

Definitely sensing some Danny/Jordan-ness. That's all I got. Keep in mind it's definitely been two weeks since I've last seen this episode and I'm trying to do my best to keep in the mindframe of someone who hadn't seen The Focus Group.

Haven't posted in a while

Sorry about that, there's been personal issues, but I'm back and rearing to go. So, here's some updates.

  1. Amanda Peet is, in fact, pregnant. No word yet on how this will effect the show.
  2. Three episodes have aired (Pilot, The Cold Open and The Focus Group)
  3. The ratings haven't been going gangbusters, but as of yet we're not sure if there's reason to panic.
  4. The show rocks!

The upcoming episodes are West Cost Delay (airing tomorrow), The Long Lead Story and The Wrap Party.

Episode analysis of the most recent two episodes will be featured in short order.

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