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.

This is a show of epic proportions, Kinda like the BFG. Because when you first see it you might seem overwhelmed and afraid by the fast paced dialogue/big ears, oodles of characters/many nostril hairs, but once you get to know him/the show you realize, "Oh, this is the big friendly giant". The show is filled with warmth and vitality. The writing is the best, period. And the cast executes the script with great acumen.
I'm sorry but I just don't understand it - I just don't. I know a lot of people thought with was gonna be Matthew Perry with Danny Trip and vice-versa with Bradley Whitford, but most of all it was because it was the initial rumour. But to think that before anyone was cast, or thought to be cast? You really don't think Matthew Perry is better suited at playing the neurotic comedic genius and Bradley Whitford as the ever loyal politics savvy best friend in the background? I just don't understand it...
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