Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Surviving Studio 60

When we're not listening to tunes around here, we're watching Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. A report earlier this week that the new TV series created by Aaron Sorkin was on the verge of cancellation. Not true, apparently. NBC has ordered three more episodes of the show. (The same report earlier this week containing that news also said cast members were telling friends that the show's being canceled.) NBC replaced the show in its timeslot last Monday night, but it will air as usual next Monday. The show reportedly rebounded in the ratings a bit on its October 23rd airing, and NBC has acknowledged two critical facts--first of all, it attracts the kind of educated and upscale audience advertisers want, and second, they haven't got anything else that would do any better against CSI: Miami.

There are lots of people who passionately hate Studio 60, calling it smug and/or self-important. (And if you don't like what you're seeing in the first place, Sorkin's trademark combination of literate dialogue delivered at high speed isn't going to raise your opinion of it.) And the critical voices have gotten louder as the ratings have slumped. I can see how people might see it as smug or self-important--a show about the trials of very rich people producing a very popular TV program might seem a bit far removed from the real-life concerns of most viewers. But then again, few of us are young, nubile medical interns, and people still love Grey's Anatomy. Does the phrase "suspension of disbelief" mean anything to anybody? How about "living vicariously"? In all of Sorkin's series (including Sports Night and The West Wing), I find myself wishing I could crawl through the screen and become part of the group that's making a TV show--or governing the free world. I don't get that from any other show on TV.

My guess is that Studio 60 will get a lot more rope than most other struggling shows, not just because it attracts a highly desirable demographic, but because Sorkin delivered NBC one of the most honored shows in history with The West Wing. And maybe the extra time will be enough to build an audience of smart people who like smart TV about smart people.

Big Whompin' Music Blog Roundup: The first links are long-overdue heads-up on great stuff at three of my favorite sites, which I hadn't visited recently. Look what I missed:

Over at Take 'Em as They Come, Danny Alexander counted down to Halloween with a series of 13 essays on ghosts, horrors, fears, monsters, and lots more. It's great, thought-provoking stuff, and even though Halloween is past, it's still a worthwhile read. You can find the first parts at this link, then use Danny's archives to find the rest. Locust St.'s series of 100 years in 10 jumps, 1906 to 2006, is up to 1956. You can find the entries from 1906 to 1956 at this link. Living in Stereo paid tribute to Chuck Berry's 80th birthday with a series of posts. Find the first one here; browse for the rest of them here.

Also notable: Bob Dylan played the Kohl Center in Madison last night. (I probably should have gone, but I didn't.) Wild Mercury has a review and the setlist for his Chicago-area show this past weekend. And Stereogum has a rundown on the new Christmas albums for 2006. Every year I swear I'm not buying any more Christmas music, and every year some artist I like makes a liar out of me. This year: Aimee Mann. I've heard a couple of tracks from One More Drifter in the Snow already, and I'll be buying it, but not until Christmas gets closer.


At 6:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Studio 60.
It's the best view of "behind the scenes" you can get.

At 11:09 AM, Blogger Jason said...

I never saw The West Wing or Sports Night, so I really had no preconceived notions regarding Sorkin's work.

Studio 60 is currently my favorite show on TV, despite the fact that the quick dialogue gives my TiVo remote a run for its money. I'm glad to see it's not going away just yet.

At 1:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with all of the above. Studio 60 is smart, funny, and thoughtful. After every episode I spend a few minutes staring at the screen in disbeleif at how good it is. Nothing else on the tube even comes close.


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