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.

Chris, I completely echo your sentiments. I shed a tear when Tom saw his father off in the parking lot, "Dad, I love you and whether you like it or not I've learned everything I know from you." Brilliance. I found the actor who played Eli to be spectacular--I think he accomplished everything he was meant to and more. I always look forward to reading your reviews and I was anxious to read your comments on this episode--I'm glad you liked it as much as I did and enough to wait just minutes after it aired to speak out about it.
How good was this episode. It is the Sorkin of old. I felt a distinct change in style here. Back to the semi-serious semi-funny style of the great WW episodes. 4.5 stars Aaron well done.
Are you people from another planet?

First of all, re: Tom's storyline. Who doesn't know the "Who's on First" comedy sketch... especially if you are the age of Tom's parents? My god, back in the 70s, every college kid on the planet had a copy of Who's On First on his/her dorm wall. Never mind that it was played on TV all the time. I can't stand it when writers make the youngun' the smart one and the parents a pack of fools--so unrealistic. Also, why not weave the historical comedy sketch into the storyline of the Old Writer--would have been a great denouement.

And, the parents are clueless about how much money people make writing for a SNL type show? And, they don't know how TV works? My dog knows how TV works! The plot line could have been so much richer if it was less cliched... son sends money home but doesn't quite explain how he makes it... parents wanted him to be a writer for a newspaper, not for a comedy show... brother is in AFGHANISTAN (do they not know there's a more pressing war in IRAQ?)and of course, this causes some Cain-and-Able conflicts. But then again, I'm sure the brother in Afghanistan is proud of his TV-writing brother... who doesn't brag about their Hollywood connection to their buddies?

And the Jesus-freak Harriet. Again, hello... Are or were there any born-again Christians in SNL? Name two. No, name one. I just don't believe that. I would however believe a woman with principles or religious convictions, but she wouldn't talk about it so openly. It's a private matter... maybe we hear it as she talks to a girlfriend on the phone or her sister (and yes, now she's buddy-buddy with the woman who slept with her love interest? Hmmm.)

Okay, and Amanda Peet's character. They are writing her so she can't put a sentence together--keeps mixing metaphors and screwing up people's names, knocking things over. Is this true of a top executive? Watch 30 Rock and see the hilarious scene where Alec Baldwin is practicing with his assistant to know who everybody is (using flash cards, too funny. "Heidi Klum!".. "The guy who sleeps with Heidi Klum!") He says when asked how he knows who's who: it's my job. It's Amanda Peet's job too, so why make her foolish? I know they are trying to maker her more real, but again, do it in subtle ways. Nobody asks people to be their friends... they just sort of hang around and say: hey, want to go shopping? Or, I've got some free tickets to a play--wanna go?

The only believeable characters are the two main ones, which of course harkens to the fact that they are played by brilliant actors who probably have some input into their character's lines and personalities--stick to those and you have a winner... Great scene with the flakie girls, the interaction with the big boss, the nightclub scenario.

In today's Washington Post, Tom Shales called Studio 60 "Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme's revenge on NBC for not renewing The West Wing through the year 2525."

Okay, I feel better!

Blogger in DC
I was not a fan of this episode. I wanted more cast integration than we got & more Danny. I loved Jordan & LOVED Jack though. It was ok but I actually liked the episode before this WAY more.
To, um, the third anonymous? (Hey, seriously guys, you should names, btw) anyways, here's my response.

1. Nope, we're not from another planet. It's highly likely we're fairly intelligent people with opinions that differ from yours.

2. First of all, there are people don't know "Who's on First?" Namely, people who don't know or care about comedy, as the Jeters appear not to. Second of all, the point was how shocking it was that they don't know "Who's on First?" because it is very common. It's not like Tom was treating it like some unknown nugget of fact. It was supposed to show the disaparance between Tom and his parents.

3. Yeah, you're right, there are plenty of different other ways they could have handled the Tom/Tom's parents storyline. I think it worked pretty damn well the way they did it. And so what that there's a more pressing war in Iraq? There are still troops in Afghanistan, I'm pretty sure most consider their contribution just as relevant. And it's spelled "Abel"

4. Victoria Jackson. Very vocal Christian, SNL alum. Next?

5. And are you seriously deputizing Alec Baldwin's asinine character on 30 Rock into your argument? I'm going to bet most TV execs don't enter a room by kicking down a door and announcing the death of their predecessor either.

At any rate, please let us know when *your* TV show will be coming out, because obviously you can do this much better than an Emmy and WGA Award winner can.

And sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but when you so brazenly and haughtilly insult a show, be prepared for responses.
Again to the third anonymous...

This may not have been the best episode but S60 is still one of the best new shows of the season. Also, Not real or beleivable?! Please! This is TV, it is entertainment. It is not supposed to be real, it is supposed to have real elements. And I personally find it endearing to have a studio head who is smart and knows what needs to be done but is also awkward.

For someone to even compare this show (which is smart and well written) to a show like 30 Rock (which tries too hard, without success, to be smart and well written) only pronounces the difference in audience.

S60 has the heart, humor and great cast which is what makes a show great!
The old man plotline dragged on a bit and maybe Tom's tou was a bit too reheased, but overall this show's story is a breath of fresh air amongst the crime and hospital shows that seem to be dominating todays media, not to mention reality tv. If they think Friday Night Light's portrayal of angst-ridden oversexed football players will be able to fill Studio 60' timeslot/demographic they are sorely mistaken.
Last nights episode is one for the Emmys! The writing, the storyline, the performaces were top notch! The intelligent wit stayed, but the sentimental touch of adding the reality of the world outside of Hollywood was not only brilliant, but almost tearjerking. The tip of the hat to the greats of American comedy was a stroke of genius. Where will S60 go, now that Friday Night Lights has taken its slot? (I like that as well)
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It's important to note that Friday Night Lights, who's ratings are worse than Studio 60, (actually every new NBC show except Heroes has worse ratings than Studio 60, for those who are worried about it's future.) is only replacing it next week. I think there's no doubt that NBC needs to mix up it's schedule some, since the current format isn't working. Heroes (while a good show that I enjoy) doesn't have too much in common with Studio 60 and I can see the demographics being different, and thus maybe not the best lead-in. I think NBC's original plan of The Office as Studio 60's lead in was a good one, and have S60 lead into ER, but that obviously didn't work out. So who knows how they'll mix it up.
I keep hearing rumors that the show is going to be canceled - I really hope that this is not the case. It's a good show!
Heroes is a great show, but a terrible lead in to Studio 60.

And pitting it up against CSI might have been a worse decision than leaving it against Greys Anatomy.

I'm looking at the fall schedule right now, and were I the powers that be at NBC (that was an unfortunate rhyme) I would switch Studio 60 with Deal or No Deal on Monday nights. Deal or no Deal might steal viewers from CSI and then Studio 60 would be the best show at the 8 PM timeslot (competing with two sitcoms, wife swap, and prison break). Or maybe push heroes to the ten o'clock spot and put deal or no deal at nine so the kids can still watch it.

Regardless, something has to be done.
NBC just announced that they aren't puting scripted series at 8pm in the future, so don't count on S60 switching places with DoND on Mondays. (Also, isn't there something in the contract about putting S60 in the 9pm or 10pm slot? Or was that just in the original scheduling? I'm not an expert, I just remember reading about that somewhere.)

Tuesday at 9 seems to me to be a big black hole (at least, I'm not watching anything during that time). Ditto almost all of Wednesday nights, although I guess that's where they're putting Medium back. (Put Medium on Monday again, it would go great with Heroes! Put S60 on Wednesday instead, maybe in the old sentimental West Wing slot! Or not so much, what with Lost, but still.)

Hmm. I'm very glad that this scheduling of TV shows for maximum viewing by maximum people is not my job. I for one will follow S60 wherever it goes and whatever I have to give up to do it, because it is the best show on TV right now, new or old, and also because the only show I *might* have to fight over time slots for it is also on NBC. If S60 and The Office were on at the same time, I think I'd just never stop crying. I still WILL marry Jim, but if he ends up with Pam I'll be happy to take Tom instead!

Anyhow, about "The Wrap Party". I loved this episode but was sad that Lauren Graham wasn't in it more, I think she's got perfect Sorkin-style delivery and could work well on the show. At least they left a door open for her to come back later, even if it is as herself. And there was just nothing in this episode that wasn't fantastic. Thank God Martha's gone for a while, she just annoys the hell out of me, even if she brings an interesting dynamic. How does Sorkin do it? How does this series keep getting better and better? I thought "The Cold Open" was my favorite episode (and I know I was alone there, but I did think that) for a while but I swear now it's changing every week. Horray for Studio 60!
As a past fan of WW, I have been disappointed with S60. It's not that it's too smart, I think it's just not a meaningful. The themes of race, lost love, or out-of-control bosses can be found on any any show.
hey, great site. i love the show and i hope we start seeing more support for it!
To the "third anonymous" (with a weird popularity in this comment box - I guess your 15 minutes of fame can come from anywhere):

I just wanted to say this. I live in Portugal so neither of these new shows are brodacast on our television - I'm downloading Studio 60 because I'm a Sorkin fanatic. So I haven't yet seen 30 Rock.

The thing is, 30 Rock could be funny. I like Tina Fey, both mentally and physically ;), and I can see her writing a very funny show.

But it still has nothing to do with Studio 60! It's a complete abyss in style and substance! The shows are very, very different!

So why is there always a 30 Rock groupie coming to every single Studio 60 blog and/or forum and/or website making these long explanations about how Studio 60 is bad and 30 Rock is SO much better?

I'm just getting really fed up with this crap!

(ok, now breathe... yes, that's it...)
I thought this episode provided some character development in key areas -- Tom, DL Hughley. (Hughley's one of the best things about the show.) And Eli Wallach was understated and brilliant as the blacklisted writer. Wallach's amazing -- clearly a very old man who can still bust the chops of most actors around him.
I hope NBC gives this show a full season, despite its modest ratings.
What I thoroughly enjoyed was Tom's "cook's tour" with his (somewhat oblivious) parents of the Studio 60 set, which also added historic depth to the mythos of S60 and the NBS TV network.

If you're gonna create a myth, flesh it out, I always say.
I loved this episode! I couldn't stop smiling after I watched it. Hopefully, Sorkin is hitting his stride with the series and I hope more people tune in and NBC gives it a full season. Chris, I think it's good you pointed out that Studio 60 is the 2nd most watched new NBC show. Sure the ratings aren't fantastic, but still. Somehow, that point always seems to get lost in the shuffle.
S60 is a great new show. I enjoy the writing, actors, storyline and I really hope it is picked up. There are some time slot issues, and I think that if more people see it once they will become avid watchers. I will follow it regardless of what night or time slot it finds a permanent home.
I actually buy the relationship between Jeannie and Harriet. Jeannie and Harriet have been working together for 7 years. Having a relationship that can overcome Jeannie's semi-affair with Harriet's ex-lover is mildly unlikely but not wildly improbable. Particularly when you consider that these people probably spend 60 or 70 hours a week in close proximity (plus after-parties). I, too, loved the episode, but Tom's part fell a little flat...there's the Who's on First thing, and there's the fact that the Afghanistan thing was not led up to, but just dumped in there without either warning or build-up. It's still the best new show of the year.
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