Monday, September 25, 2006

COULD YOU BE ANY MORE JEWISH? Our favorite TV expert Alan Sepinwall has lots of insightful things to say about tonight's Studio 60. Fortunately, none of them is the point I wanted to make.

Someone reasonably witty once said that Bull Durham is a major league movie about a minor league baseball team, while Major League is a minor league movie about a major league baseball team. Two episodes in, Studio 60 is a minor league TV show about a theoretically major league TV show, while Sports Night was a major league TV show about a theoretically minor league TV show.

Just one minor example, although there are many, many others. Clearly it's supposed to have been a big deal that Danny (Tripp, not Rydell) is going to let D.L. Hughley's Simon co-host the news. But this isn't The West Wing, where we fundamentally understand why a standoff in Kazakhstan or a nuclear plant blowing up in California is important (can you tell what I'm up to on the West Wing reruns on Bravo?) The only touchpoint we can draw an analogy to is hosting Weekend Update on SNL -- and I can hardly think of anything less resonant or less important to human existence than who's hosting Weekend Update. Simon getting to co-host the news doesn't need to be objectively important to make us care, but someone needs to give us a reason to care, and no one has.

So then there's Sports Night. When Jeremy gets the call, we don't need to have a view on whether a segment on hunting is intrinsically good or bad. All we need to know to make the issue important -- and the episode work -- is whether and why it's important to the show within the show and whether and why it's important to Jeremy. We understand the situation, we understand the characters and their motivations, and lo! the total objective unimportance of a segment about hunting on a SportsCenterish show becomes a critical issue and compelling television.

Yes, this is only the second episode of Studio 60. But you know what the second episode of Sports Night was? The Apology. And The Hungry and the Hunted (in which Jeremy gets the call but doesn't so much like the hunting) came third.

Tonight's bulletpoints:
  • Still think Perry is far and away the best part of the show. Loved every instant of the bit with the clock, which was as perfect a Sorkin narrative thread as he's ever written.
  • Very glad that Whitford got the Chandler line instead of Perry.
  • I've never seen Sarah Paulson in anything before -- I am so not feeling the love.
  • Whitford definitely dyed his hair.
  • Peet looked less luminous tonight -- which took away the thing that had been distracting me from the fact that she comes across as totally clueless instead of as the president of a major network. (Which perhaps is supposed to be a statement on presidents of major networks, but I don't think so.)
  • Ditto everything Sepinwall said about the Gilbert & Sullivan number.
  • I cannot get past the silliness of the notion that a Friday 11:30 pm comedy show is somehow the "flagship" of an entire major network.
  • In two episodes, we haven't seen a single thing to make me think that "The Big Three" have an iota of talent among them.
  • Wow, Matthew Perry is good.

I am continuing to reserve final judgment on the show until we get past the episodes that have been widely dissected in the media prior to their airing. And don't get me wrong -- I'm planning to keep watching no matter how many complaints I have, because bits like the countdown clock are worth the price of admission. But so far, I feel the same way about Schlamme and Sorkin as I do about Danny and Matt -- I hope they can do better.

No comments:

Post a Comment