Oh, blog! How I have missed you. We haven’t really seen much of each other lately and I feel bad about that. When the new year started, I had such high hopes for us. I made a commitment to catch up and write/post about the shows I had seen. In fact, I even reminisced about the times when I would post five days a week. Although I am not a really a believer in New Year’s resolutions, I intended to start the year off right—with four weeks of five posts per week. As you can see, I didn’t even make it through the second day. Doh. I guess I just got distracted with other things (keep shiny objects away from me if you want my attention). I really don’t want to point fingers here, but I will. It’s all Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip‘s fault! There, I said it. Now I feel better.
I added Studio 60 to my queue upon the recommendation of a friend. And, instead of watching the shows that have been in my watch instantly queue for years, I started in on this series. I honestly wasn’t concerned about whether I would like the show—I mean, I spent the first two hours of today watching two episodes of Millionaire Matchmaker on hulu (I now understand the train wreck metaphor). Let’s be clear here, I am not proud of myself for watching that show (which I had never heard of before today), but we can safely say I am not an elitist when it comes to TV viewing. But Studio 60 surprised me. I really liked this show. Where the hell was I when it was on the air?
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is a series created by Aaron Sorkin, writer of The West Wing, The Social Network, and ALF (OK, I am lying about ALF. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. It’s too bad he didn’t write ALF, though—it could have used a political spin). The series stars Matthew Perry as Matt Albie and Bradley Whitford as Danny Tripp. Matt and Danny are a writer-producer duo who, due to a series of events, return to write and produce a Saturday Night Live-ish show (where incidentally they each had their big break years earlier). Here they have to deal with the actors, the stress of producing a weekly live show, and struggling with the business side of entertainment (in other words, dealing with executives).
I remember that this show came out the same year as 30 Rock. I’m not sure if this was coincidental or some weird ploy on the part of NBC to subliminally encourage audiences to watch a weekly, live sketch comedy. Hey, doesn’t that describe Saturday Night Live? And isn’t that show on NBC as well? Weird. Anyway, it is interesting (and a bit sad) to see that 30 Rock is still on the air, while Studio 60 only survived for a season.
The writing of Studio 60 is top notch. I am sure it would be a difficult task to combine the drama of producing a television show with comedy sketches for the show within the show, and still be able to create political and cultural commentary; but somehow Studio 60 does it. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen The West Wing, and I suppose I should add it to my queue if it is anywhere near this caliber of work. I will admit that the last few episodes of the series were not as strong as the first half. I am sure this is probably attributed to them wanting to wrap up loose ends since they were canceled, but it just seemed a bit too perfect for my taste.
I also really enjoyed the cast of this show. Matthew Perry surprised me in this role. I wasn’t a Friends fanatic, but it’s hard to think of him as anyone but Chandler, or his largely overlooked but critically acclaimed role next to Chris Farley in Almost Heroes. In Studio 60, he was understated and believable as a troubled writer. The rest of the cast is phenomenal as well. I especially liked Simon Helberg’s impersonation of Nicholas Cage—both spot-on and creepy.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip was a pleasant surprise from my queue. I quickly watched the entire series over the course of a week and enjoyed almost all of it. Although there is a place for all genres of television (and I will certainly watch anything), I can’t help but think that this is network TV at its best—thought provoking, well-written, high quality entertainment.
Have a happy Thursday!
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