Monday, January 22, 2007

Episode Review: Monday

Episode Rating: B+

So... there's a fine line between being romantic and take-charge and being obsessive and stalker-ish. Now, which side of that line Danny is on is probably up to you, it's certainly not clear cut. Either way you slice it, this is a very interesting direction for the show to go, particularly with one of the lead characters. As frequent viewers of this blog know, my favorite character on this show is Danny and I'll be honest... I like this storyline. It doesn't paint Danny in a particularly flattering light, but it's still really cool. There might have been situations in many of our lives when we thought we were merely being aggressive and it totally came out the wrong way. I mean, it's clear Danny's a good guy and isn't going to end up coming after Jordan with a knife (I mean, look at all those character references! Spielberg, Scorcese, Eastwood and some royalty!), so I'm very keen on seeing where this ends up. Do I still support them as a coupling? That I'm less sure about, we'll need to see more.

Hey, so did you catch Timothy Busfield in this episode? Yeah, it was his voice over the P.A. one time in the teaser.... and I think that's it. Seriously, Busfield's an Emmy winning actor. Sorkin? Schlamme? Use him more. In The West Wing, where Busfield played a recurring role as Danny Concannon, his character was already WAY more developed than Cal's by episode 12 of Season 1... and at that point Danny had only been in maybe four or five episodes... NOT AS A CAST MEMBER. I used to think Dule Hill got a raw deal on TWW since the other seven (during the show's hey-day) contract actors got a *lot* more screen time than him but this is nothing compared to Busfield. Perhaps, with Busfield's other duties this is how he prefers it? I don't know. But... Cal started out as my third favorite character on this show when it started, and he's now dropped to sixth. (My order is Danny, Jack, Tom, Matt, Jordan, Cal, Simon, Harriet for those curious) This is no fault of the character, he's actually really funny and cool... he's just not developed at all.

Matthew Perry's funny, I really like him as Matt Albie. It's great that Matt can be SOOO funny and yet funny in SUCH a different way than Chandler on Friends was. I think Whitford and Perry have both done laudable jobs at distancing the characters they played for so long and that made them famous.

The Tom and Lucy romance subplot is kind of cute. I like both Tom and Lucy a lot and kinda like that they appear to be just getting together without any drama. I get that there will be some conflict, as Tom will likely try to balance his Thursday night date with Lucy with him having to go the Harriet Dinner with China Girl (which is also supposed to be on Thursday) but... still not sure how much screen time it's worth. But I like Tom a lot, so I'm not complaining.

Like Simon's storyline a LOT in this episode, and can't wait to see that expanded upon. I love when characters have fights and I don't know who to root for because they're both right and wrong, and that's exactly what's going on right now with Simon and Darius. I see both of their points... and while I'm tempted to support Simon just 'cause I like him more (no offense Darius) it's hard not to see Darius' point. Simon made it clear in The Wrap Party that he feels like it's his duty to personally save every talented black kid in the ghetto, and while that's kind of him... it's not fair for him to just expect Darius to be the kind of writer he wants him to be because of it. Lol, how hilarious was it to have Lucy try to put the word "prat" in a black militant's mouth.

As for Jordan and... Hallie, was it? I don't know.... Hallie just seems like an annoying cardboard-cut out of a character. Sweet on the outside, bitchy on the inside sexy business lady. Been there, done that. I did think the tying it back to the book from before to show that Hallie wasn't all that she appeared was a good way to end that story in this episode. I'm really looking forward to Jordan kicking Hallie's frigid ass though. Illiterate programming indeed.

Jack's rocking the house as always. It's nice seeing Wilson become kind of a paternal father figure-ish type to Jack, since Studio 60 had been missing that. Wilson's definitely this show's Isaac Jaffee or Jed Bartlet, but just seen less.

Hmm... no comments. Be leaving them, folks!
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Great report! Barring all of the references you make to WW, I can go along with most of what you have to say...even though Time Warner decided last evening that they wanted to cut into my viewing of Studio 60 for nearly 10 minutes of the plot. I tend to agree that this first episode of the year has started another direction in many of the sub-plots, which I find to be the most entertaining part of the show.

Ed Asner’s character of Wilson White plays more to my interest since my background is in the games played at that level of business and his character provides more feel of the reality of what is really going on behind a lot of the businesses that run the entertainment industry. I am glad Sorkin threaded the Wilson White and Jack characters into each episode. This plot development links to why the other characters and the other plots of Studio 60 really matter.

The brilliances of the writers to write in references to the internet and blogs and online auctioning all play to what drives the way people act, think and do in the entertainment industry as well as mainstream business in general. Last evening’s scripting of the ciphering of usernames to figure out who they are, the researching of organizations, businesses and people on the internet, all shows some real world stuff that is just not being addressed or recognized in any other programs on TV like Sorkin does in S60.

The minor characters and their plots, play to making Matt Perry, who I feel is the main draw to this show by the non-internet audience, really fun to watch. I knew Matt could use his timing and line delivery to move beyond Chandler Bing...he really shows it well in Studio 60.

Now if Sorkin would change the lighting of the sets to be a little less filtered and bring in lighter colors into set design (which there seemed to be some mention in the scripting in a previous episode that it was needed to secure sponsors to pay for something), then I think S60 will draw in the audience who are not wanting to get sucked into what appears when you surf by S60 as another dry melodrama that is usually placed in the Studio 60 time slot. I feel that is what will have to be done to keep S60 going...

Yes, sub-plotting is what keep viewers coming Studio 60 it is done well.

Keep your reports coming, I am enjoying them. I’ll keep linking them to the business world for ya...
Anyone else think that the 'lukes58' bidding on the date is Harriet in a scam to get Matt to donate to the charity?

Danny is just creepy in this episode. The way the first segment was put together was making me squirm. It reminded me of Mikey in "Swingers" leaving the answering machine messages.

I think the Hallie character needs some more time to be developed. There are no 'villains' on the show anymore since Jack has become warm and friendly and with some time she could become a nice foil for Jordan. One thing that bothered me was the scen of her at the gym. It seemed strange to place the apology there. Also the first show of the scene started at her feet and moved all the way up her legs and torso. The entire thing just screamed 'Look at the body on this woman!'

All in all it was an average episode. I felt like I was left hanging in a way that they avoided in 'Nevada Day: Part 1.'
Great recap and insightful review as always, Chris.

I do agree with most of your reviews, and with the sense that only those who let go of their 'high-strung negative predisposition' to S60 can really start to enjoy it. I feel bad for those who just won't stop criticizing the show because they think it what everyone else thinks also. Cmon people! Make up your mind. Like it. Don't like it. If you do, stay and talk about it. If you don't... well, what's your point about ranting about it if you think there's no hope? It makes you feel better to bitch-slap someone else's work? I mean, we value your 'creative input,' but please... if you're not going to stay to watch it next week, why bother to say what you want it to be next week?

Whoah. Just did a whole thing there by myself.

Anyway, gotta love this show.
I had a million laugh-out-louds on this episode, such that I had to pause the recording from time top time just to enjoy my laughs.

Did anyone else see the shaking motion BW did when he said "i should have sent recommendations" to Matt? That alone was worth the funny.

Cheers Chris! A few good men remain.
Remember way back in season 4 of the West Wing when Zoey was dating the French dude and Charlie was still in love with her and she asked him not to contact her and he said "no"? That was sweet and cute and funny.

Well, please note, Danny did *almost* the same thing here and it was creepy and awkward and unpleasent. Why? Well, I think a few reasons.

1) Charlie wasn't stalking Zoey. He wasn't spending hours making sure she got references, he wasn't calling her repeatedly, to the extent that he had to change his cell phone and get a new nuber so she would answer the phone. He just was going to continue to *talk* to her.

2) Charlie was, what, 24 and Zoey was 22? Relationships are very different when you're that young. Danny is a man in his 40s and Jordan a woman in her 30s. The lady says she wants to be left alone? Leave her alone. What is it about "no" don't you understand?

3) Danny never explains his "no". If you recall, Charlie does, he explains to her that he's in love with her and he speaks kindly. Danny offers no explination, does not seem kind and offers no response to her very valid points about why the relationship might have some problems.

All in all, they better to do something to redeem Danny soon because I'm affraid Tommy Schlamme may sue for defimation of character if this continues. I started out really liking Danny but he's become one of my least favorite characters. He's smug and seemingly has no reason to be.
From what has been said Danny is a top tier feature Director. A decent reason to act smug.
Great review! Danny was a bit creepy - but I don't think it's entirely unrealistic for someone in his position and with the type of personality he has. I've known CEOs who act the same way - they're self righteous. Not exactly what I would have expected from his character, but not completely unbelievable.

He'll probably cross the line - and it will get akward. It is a drama. I don't mind that it's not a sweet romantic comedy moment.
Good work as always Chris, and I'll add in my two cents here...

My favorite plot last night was the FCC/Jack/Wilson plot. It seemed to ring the most true to what Sorkin is good at writing--things that are bigger than ourselves. I've been so impressed with how everyone has handled Jack/Wilson (and somewhat Jordan) and that they're not always involved with S60. Yes, it does seem to keep coming back, but whatever. I'm not looking for it to come back. They're perfectly interesting on their own. And Wilson as a father figure? Yes, please.

I didn't think Danny was as creepy as everyone else seems to think he was. Calling her constantly was more creepy to me than having her sent all the references. I, actually, thought it was kind of cute. It was nice to see Danny/Brad take an initiative, instead of Josh hiding ><

Completely agree with you on Cal. He could easily be my second or third favorite character (he's fourth or fifth right now), if only he was given some more screen time! I watched the Bravo marathon, and saw The Wrap Party, which I had missed the first time around. To my surprise, Cal had a subplot, and he was delightful. It wasn't the best story ever, and yes, it's been done a dozen times before, but Tim made it work.

All in all, it was a nice way to bring back the series after a farrrr too long hiatus.
It wasn't the references I found... iffy at all. Taken alone, the references is kind of cute. And even the calling isn't a big deal because it's not as if Jordan was like "OMG! Quit calling!" Some of the time she was like engaging him in conversation, it's not like Danny and Jordan weren't friends anyway. It's the fact that Danny apparently got a new phone so as to change his number so she'd pick up (REALLY creepy) and that he refused to stop pursuing her. The phone was the worst of it all, though.
I'm pretty sure that this episode just pisses me off. What's with the obnoxious turns these characters have taken?

Yes, it's romantic for Danny to "be in love" with Jordan, but as romantic as it may appear to have the episode end with him rejecting Jordans plea to leave her alone, it really just comes out as immature. Their relationship is not developed enough for anyone to possibly believe that he could love her that much. I've had better relationships with a loaf of bread.

I don't understand what they're doing with Simon either. It could be that Sorkin is looking to expose faults in the characters, and if that's the case, he has done a spectacular job. Virtually every character in this episode did something improper that warrants a major apology.

Maybe it's all just a set-up for future episodes. I guess we'll see.
It's good to have Studio 60 back. I liked the show a lot. When Simon wanted to work with Darius on that sketch I thought that maybe Simon is gay and has a crush on Darius? Anybody else who thought tha?

And what about that new blond girl...I fergot her name. Maybe Danny ends up with her to piss Jorden off or something like that?
I liked this episode a lot. Individually, I loved all the elements that went into this episode (the several different storylines), particularly Lucy/Tom and Simon/Darius. I wanted to smack Simon so badly in this episode but that storyline's not done so we'll see if he can make his case later on in a way that doesn't make me throw things. I wouldn't be surprised if he does, even if he still ends up being wrong.

I loved Jack in this episode, and my favorite line was the exchange between him and that board member ending with him calling that guy a moron. And then Wilson White agreeing with him. I laughed so hard. For as much as I loved Jack though, I loved him also when he was pragmatic corporate you-only-think-he's-slimy chairman guy, and I'd love to get back to some of that. It's almost like a different guy, this iealistic Jack, and I miss the different perspective he used to offer. It kept the show grounded to me in a lot of ways. I love when that comes out in Jordan too (as in The Option Period debate over product placement) and hope we see more of her in business situations where that can come out more.

On the subject of Jordan/Danny... well, I didn't start out as a huge fan of them as a couple until late last year, particularly the open of The Christmas Show, and then of course his speech which made me melt. But he screwed up here, badly. The constant calling was... understandable, if unnerving, and Jordan was blowing hot and cold in those conversations. Changing his phone number was weird, I agree, but not freakish, and the thing with the recommendations sounds like it would be really good. It's the kind of move that would work in a romantic comedy movie, and I love that the reality of how ridiculous and unprofessional that is was really brought home here. He's got a lot of making up to do for that huge blunder. It's going to be interesting to see how he does it.
Kudos for a fair and well thought-out commentary! I'm enjoying the show because it's not predictable. Sorkin is taking chances and exploring issues that are real in the 21st century world of dating when you're over 25. I applaud him for it.

My only complaint is I'd like to see far more Danny and a bit less Matt. Whitford isn't being used as fully as he could be.
What an obnoxious episode. Jeez.

The only storyline I loved was the Jack/FCC/Wilson Wight one. It reminded me most of the pilot, of the passion and controversy of television the show was primed to explore.

Now here's everything I didn't like.

-Darius v. Simon -- The MOST RANDOM "racial" "conflict" EVER. It came totally out of nowhere. Simon didn't make it clear that the idea (which sucked, by the way) was supposed to be for Darius only. What the hell is the big deal about him passing it onto Lucy/the room? What if he was busy writing other sketches? How plausible is it, period, that there is an distinctly implied offense in a writer who happens to be black deciding not to do a sketch for an actor who happens to be black?

-Jordan v. Hallie -- Hallie's character is one-dimensional (evil, evil!) and boring. But Jordan's unreasonable snappiness towards her just makes me dislike Jordan.

-Danny v. Jordan -- Jesus christ, I was plugging these two from the start, and then Danny suddenly turns creepy/stalker/obsessively in love after showing interest in Jordan for ONE episode. So not believable in the least. So in this episode he uses a lot of lame ploys to win her heart, but showering her with "letters of recommentation" is just LAMER THAN LAME. It made me gag.

-Harriet -- We get it. She's Christian and therefore her personality has no other dimensions. Her storylines are either about being Christian, Matt, or being Christian around Matt.

In short, this episode left me strongly disliking almost every character because they all behaved in ways that were not plausible, reasonable in the least, logical or sympathetic. God almighty, what is going on with this show?
I agree with your review of the episode. I thought something was a tiny bit off. Still very wonderful and I've tivo'd it (new verb) for viewing again.

On another note, Deborah Netburn from the LA Times has written a piece published on 1/22. It is in answer to her previous piece claiming that many comedy writers do not like Studio 60. She interviewed 3 people. It is very weak and fails to begin to understand why the show is so well done. I guess we must be awashed in a sea of CSI and Law and Order nonsense for tv to have a plot critics approve. Ughh they just don't get it. I would guess that she has not watched more than 1 episode.
I was really interested in the Simon/Darius dynamic. I knew that at some point Simon would be asking for payment for bringing Darius to the big leagues. You have to wonder how lonely it would be to be the token on the staff of a show like that. I think he just really wanted Darius to write with him and didn't think about the fact that Darius might be worried about being pigeonholed as 'the black writer'. I was kind of waiting for this in the back of my mind since Darius was hired- does he work for teh show or for Simon???
It was a good episode, but it was a sad episode too. I enjoyed it without enjoying it (if that makes sense). All the people I don't want to see fighting with each other were fighting with each other (okay, except for Lucy and Tom, who seem off to a good start).

I absolutely agree that both Darius and Simon are both right and both wrong. I think Simon is just slightly righter tho. There isn't any evidence that he's been trying to dominate Darius time, and monopolize him as "the black writer", so I think Darius should chill out a bit and try to go with the flow. Give it a shot, man. If you can't write that kind of material then let it become apparent to Simon as part of trying to collaborate (like it obviously did when he was trying to colloborate with Lucy) rather than trying to ditch him, as Darius obviously did.

Miracle of miracles, I'm liking Jack more all the time. I didn't think it possible. I didn't think they wanted me to, really. Maybe that's why Hallie is there --Jack is becoming *too* likable, so a bit more bitch/bastard street cred needed to be introduced.

Anyway, Yay it's back! Missed it a lot, look forward to a bit more happiness (a little? please?) in the future.
I love the show but since the producers/writers often preach and teach while they entertain, I was wondering if other notice the inaccuracies in the whole storyline dealing with the FCC. The maximum fine that can be assessed is 3 million dollars and a network can only be fined for the stations they own. The affiliates are not fined for what the network does. If the producers want to stir the pot and raise the issue of censorship, then they should get the facts right. This is the one TV show that I schedule around because it is so good. To get this storyline so wrong is so contrary to everything they do, it is disappointing.
Or is this just dramatic license and I am overreacting? Just wondering
I love the show but since the producers/writers often preach and teach while they entertain, I was wondering if other notice the inaccuracies in the whole storyline dealing with the FCC. The maximum fine that can be assessed is 3 million dollars and a network can only be fined for the stations they own. The affiliates are not fined for what the network does. If the producers want to stir the pot and raise the issue of censorship, then they should get the facts right. This is the one TV show that I schedule around because it is so good. To get this storyline so wrong is so contrary to everything they do, it is disappointing.
Or is this just dramatic license and I am overreacting? Just wondering
I think Danny is just smitten with Jordan (did I just say smitten?). Boys are boys, he's pushing her limits. She HAS to say "I'm your". He'll cool it for a bit (with some help from Matt, according to the preview). Unrequited love is a great story line. Just wait til the birth episode!!! Who's going to want you when that happens!?Hallie...hmmm...where the hell did that come from. I don't like characters exploding on the scene and dissing Jordan...and Jordan losing the fight. Her character showed integrity and backbone in the gym though. Loved the board scene, Wilson's character is the gritty, cur-like character witha heart of steel-edged gold that we all love to love. (Wow, where was this writing when I was in college?)Someone had commented about the "S60" sketches not being funny: I think hilarious comedy writing for sketches would take away from the actual show, "Studio 60", not the SNL-like show it's centered around. I don't want to see the sketches, I want to see the characters develop. Their soundstage is just a backdrop for the TV drama/comedy. I think the lobster costume for no reason, the dolphin girl sneak-peak, the "spit take" teaser etc. are enough. I'm so glad to see this intelligent humor again on TV. Quick-witted and charming. Hell, I'M smitten!!!
To the anonymous... Yeah, I read the article by Deborah Netburn (if you noticed they mention this site and I'm one of the sources) I thought it was fine. It's clear what *her* opinion on the show is but... meh, that's how it goes. I don't think she's going for unbiased.
Great to come across this intelligent discussion. Thanks Chris!

I bet it will turn out that Darius is gay and doesn't want to work on that particular sketch.

Sorkin likely has some dark plans for Danny; a cocaine relapse perhaps. He's sure playing the dry drunk.

Wondered about the casting for Hallie. To me she didn't come across as lovely, as she's written to be.

I happen to be reading "48 Laws of Power" so it's nice to see it come up. Law #17: "Keep others in suspended terror: Cultivate an air of unpredictability." Now that Jordan is on to Hallie's source, I wonder if the book will be a continuing character.
I have a question about the 48 laws of power in general since it seems like everyone is reading it and it showed up in this episode...why can't people just read "The Prince" if they want to learn how to manipulate people? Or am I just being a snob?
Couple things. Yes, you are being a snob. The reason people wont read the Prince is that it is old and people hate old things. Now I am being a snob. Also, The Prince was mentioned in the epi, wasnt it?
These kind of books get rewritten regularly. I remember "Leadership Secrets of Atilla the Hun", from some years back, for instance. And, sure, they're all ripping off Machiavelli and Sun Tzu for a new generation. So what?
OK- I guess I was being a snob. Personally I'd rather read the Prince than someone's rip off of the Prince. And I must say I'm a little amused at (and bemused by) the people who read this thing and walk around like they've unlocked some big secret. We had write and update on one of the ideas in the Prince for a class project in high school! Ok- snob shutting up now.
Meh... doesn't sound so snobby.
Dead on accurate review.

I'm surprised, however, that no one has mentioned the following: While Jack is being awesome in this episode he winds up having to crush Kim's dreams in order to get the situation he needs rolling. I found that interesting. It was definately a rock-Jack-hard place situation, and while I feel that he's taking a "needs of the many" attitude about it, I feel a little bad for Kim (though I do think she's slightly nieve as well). Anyone else think this is an interesting dynamic?

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