Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sorkin's Studio 60 So-So

I’ve been trying to get into Aaron Sorkin’s new NBC drama, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, but so far it strikes me as above-average writing and above-average acting in the service of nothing much at all. As Salon's Heather Havrilesky put it earlier this week, West Wing-style gravitas is silly when it’s applied to a drama about Saturday Night Live.

Studio 60 is supposed to be about a faltering live comedy sketch show like SNL, but the second episode lost all verisimilitude once we got to see how unfunny the fictional show was. If nothing else, Studio 60 demonstrates the difficulty of being funny while driving a prestige vehicle.

Unless you think those godawfully smug Mark Russell specials on PBS are the cat's ass, it's impossible to imagine an audience giving a standing ovation to the lame musical number that was supposed to be Studio 60's comeback cue. Are we really supposed to be that impressed at Sorkin getting the term "intellectual reach-around" past the censors?

I did like the irony of having Judd Hirsch interrupt a live sketch to deliver a Network-style rant about the rancid state of American television on the pilot episode. Hirsch’s former Taxi co-star Andy Kaufman actually did walk out of a sketch (with the producer’s blessing) on ABC’s Fridays back in 1981, but Hirsch reportedly found similar Kaufman antics on the Taxi set to be a major source of irritation.

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