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Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip: Discussion Thread

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STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP - Episode Information and Ratings (Numbers are from Nielsen Media Research)

Episode 1.1: "Pilot"

Air Date: September 18, 2006

Written By: Aaron Sorkin

Directed By: Thomas Schlamme

Viewers: 13.41 million

18-49: 5.0/13

Episode 1.2: "The Cold Open"

Air Date: September 25, 2006

Written By: Aaron Sorkin

Directed By: Thomas Schlamme

Viewers: 10.83 million

18-49: 4.2/11

Episode 1.3: "The Focus Group"

Air Date: October 2, 2006

Written By: Aaron Sorkin

Directed By: Christopher Misiano

Viewers: 9.05 million

18-49: 3.5/9

Episode 1.4: "West Coast Delay"

Air Date: October 9, 2006

Written By: Aaron Sorkin & Mark Goffman

Directed By: Timothy Busfield

Viewers: 8.66 million

18-49: 3.7/9

Episode 1.5: "The Long Lead Story"

Air Date: October 16, 2006

Teleplay By: Aaron Sorkin

Story By: Dana Calvo

Directed By: David Petrarca

Viewers: 7.74 million

18-49: 3.1/8

Episode 1.6: "The Wrap Party"

Air Date: October 23, 2006

Teleplay By: Aaron Sorkin

Story By: Melissa Myers & Amy Turner

Directed By: David Semel

Viewers: 7.72 million

18-49: 3.2/8

Episode 1.7: "Nevada Day – Part 1"

Air Date: November 6, 2006

Teleplay By: Aaron Sorkin

Story By: Mark McKinney

Directed By: Lesli Linka Glatter

Location Directed By: Timothy Busfield

Viewers: 7.67 million

18-49: 3.3/8

Episode 1.8: "Nevada Day – Part 2"

Air Date: November 13, 2006

Teleplay By: Aaron Sorkin

Story By: David Handelman & Cinque Henderson

Directed By: Timothy Busfield

Viewers: 7.58 million

18-49: 3.1/8

Episode 1.9: "The Option Period"

Air Date: November 20, 2006

Teleplay By: Aaron Sorkin

Story By: Christina Kiang Booth & Mark Goffman

Directed By: John Fortenberry

Viewers: 7.17 million

18-49: 3.1/8

Episode 1.10: "B-12"

Air Date: November 27, 2006

Written By: Aaron Sorkin & Eli Attie

Directed By: Bryan Gordon

Viewers: 7.27 million

18-49: 3.2/8

Episode 1.11: "The Christmas Show"

Air Date: December 4, 2006

Teleplay By: Aaron Sorkin

Story By: Christina Kiang Booth & Cinque Henderson

Directed By: Dan Attias

Viewers: 7.33 million

18-49: 2.9/8

Episode 1.12: "Monday"

Air Date: January 22, 2007

Teleplay By: Aaron Sorkin

Story By: Dana Calvo & David Handelman

Directed By: Lawrence Trilling

Viewers: 7.25 million

18-49: 3.1/8

Episode 1.13: "The Harriet Dinner"

Air Date: January 29, 2007

Teleplay By: Aaron Sorkin

Story By: Eli Attie

Directed By: Timothy Busfield

Viewers: 6.86 million

18-49: 3.0/8

Episode 1.14: "The Harriet Dinner – Part 2"

Air Date: February 5, 2007

Teleplay By: Aaron Sorkin

Story By: Mark Goffman & Dana Calvo

Directed By: John Fortenberry

Viewers: 7.10 million

18-49: 3.1/8

Episode 1.15: "The Friday Night Slaughter"

Air Date: February 12, 2007

Teleplay By: Aaron Sorkin

Story By: Melissa Myers & Amy Turner

Directed By: Thomas Schlamme

Viewers: 6.39 million

18-49: 2.8/7

Episode 1.16: "4AM Miracle"

Air Date: February 19, 2007

Teleplay By: Aaron Sorkin

Story By: Mark McKinney

Directed By: Laura Innes

Viewers: 6.11 million

18-49: 2.4/6

Episode 1.17: "The Disaster Show"

Air Date: May 24, 2007

Teleplay By: Aaron Sorkin

Story By: Dara Resnik Creasey & Chad Gomez Creasey

Directed By: Thomas Schlamme

Viewers: 3.9 million

18-49: 1.6/5

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I already saw the pilot and I totally loved it! The show has potential to become a TV classic with the great cast, brilliant directing and of course writing from the best writer is all of TV, Mr. Aaron Sorkin! Fans who loved The West Wing or Sports Night will love this show. It's classic Sorkin.

Minor Spoilers below.


This show has been much covered on this site. The script and the screener have been reviewed here, and I have hailed it as the best of the season. More importantly, Broadcast and Cable polled 66 critics on the season’s best new series and “Studio 60 Live on the Sunset Strip” received more than four times as many votes as its closest runner-up.

As “West Wing” did, “Studio 60” gives us a president to love – but this time it’s network president Jordan McDeere (Amanda Peet), who dazzles with a series of fearlessly dead-perfect decisions even as the company she’s just joined seems to careen toward disaster. She is just one character, but she is my favorite, at least in the opener.

Mind you, the “Studio 60” pilot has its flaws (the teaser, especially, played a lot better on the page than it does as filmed), but it also stands head and shoulders above any other pilot I saw this year or last. As for future episodes, one has to put a lot of faith in any enterprise that emerges from the author of “A Few Good Men,” “The American President,” “Sports Night” and “The West Wing.”

But what matters Herc’s opinion?

USA Today gives it four stars (out of four) and says:

… What matters with Studio 60 is that it stars Matthew Perry, Bradley Whitford and Amanda Peet; it's directed by Thomas Schlamme; and it's written by Aaron Sorkin. And they're all at the top of their games. Teeming with rich characters and terrific actors, brimming with wit, drama and unexpected urgency, Studio 60 brings its workplace to full, immensely entertaining life.… There are times when Studio 60 is a little too self-important and self-referential. (It's impossible not to read Sorkin into Perry's character.) But while it is interested in the issues that are faced and stirred up by TV, it is definitely not a show about show business. This is a beautifully acted drama about the conflicts, pressures and joys that arise when people come together at work.

The New York Times says:

… what most distinguishes “Studio 60” is that it is as romantic about television as “The West Wing” was about politics. Mr. Sorkin has created a world where some things actually are as they seem, and even untrustworthy people have hidden valor. And he has taken two of the most easily caricatured female archetypes, an evangelical Christian entertainer and a sexy network executive, and made them as richly textured and captivating as the two male leads, maybe a little more so. …

The Los Angeles Times says:

… Sorkin, creator of "The West Wing," brings his intoxicating brio to the backstage world of a late-night TV series and conjures the place as the same roiling ground zero of social and moral debate that he projected onto the White House. …

The Washington Post says:

… Less than some of its parts, and a little long on shortcomings, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" nevertheless arrives with so much credible fanfare and such a hefty cadre of talent that even skeptics can reasonably expect future episodes to improve on tonight's more ho-hum than ho-ho premiere … The cast is formidable and seems to be using the premiere mainly as a warm-up, waiting for the really good scripts to come in. … Though it may not yet have achieved the level of devastating lampoonery, there is something electric in the air just because a network television show is taking both a sardonic and serious look at television as a medium and how it affects the people who work in it and, to a lesser degree, the millions of faithful who man their couches and clickers hoping for something that will stimulate them, one way or another. …

Variety says:

… it's hard not to root for "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," a series that weds Aaron Sorkin's crackling dialogue and willingness to tackle big ideas with a beyond-stellar cast. Sorkin's ear for the media's rules and excesses was a staple of both "The West Wing" and "Sports Night," and his exploration of an aging latenight franchise is so bracingly smart it's sure to hook discriminating viewers. … Even with his eccentricities, Sorkin infuses his stories with aspirational fervor (network execs exhibiting backbone? Go figure), his characters with brains and his rat-a-tat patter with an electricity that puts most primetime drama to shame. And if the show's sense of reality suffers amid those stagy, too-articulate exchanges, it's nevertheless an invigorating contrast when so much TV entails pacing around a chalk outline.

The Hollywood Reporter says:

… the launch of "Studio 60" - an ambitious and hugely entertaining drama - somehow tells us that the new fall season truly has begun. …

We give the last word to AICN’s own “Shelbygirl”:

Yeah, I know. Big deal. EVERYONE has seen the pilot, it's on NetFlix, etc... And if I still lived in Canada, this would be cool, too, because CTV is showing Studio 60 on Sunday nights, a day earlier than down here. But alas, I'm here, and not there, so this will be the only opportunity I have to review this show for AICN.

This will be a little different review. There are any number of places online where you can read about the plot, hell, even read basic pilot reviews. I want to go into a few observations about the show, about the Sorkin style, and what sadly lacks on TV that Sorking brings to the small screen.

I've been a fan of Sorkin since Sports Night. I sent the sad news to you WAY back when it was rumored that perhaps the show would be saved by cable (http://www.aintitcool.com/node/6275). When I was lying flat on my back recovering from a nasty, nasty virus, a few years ago and was able to watch all of Sports Night on DVD back to back to back. The West Wing had been on the air for a few years now, and

certain tendencies had begun to emerge with Sorkin's oeuvre.

Once you got past the painful laugh track in the first few episodes, what emerged was a smart, fast paced comedy filled with primary, secondary and tertiary characters that endeared themselves to you. There were story lines that seemed like they had been abandoned, only to be picked up the next season to great effect. There were many, many similarities that the short-lived comedy and the long-standing drama shared. Studio 60 is no exception.

There were a few things that always stood out for me about a Sorkin Show. The first thing is characters who were excellent at what they did (sports, production, speech writing, politicking) and absolutely horrible at most other things in life (mostly interpersonal

relationships). These people needed each other, mostly because no one else could really understand them, let alone put up with them. Sorkin once said that his characters would have success in their love lives when he did. The deep flaws that all of his characters

possessed, paired off with their super-human ability in their chosen field made each character memorable and lovable.

The second thing that Sorkin excelled at was creating outstanding female characters. One only needs to look at the "evolution" of the characters of CJ and the First Lady on The West Wing to see Sorkin's genius when it came to writing strong, complex women characters and not caricatures. All Sorkin's women are successful, and yet not; strong, and yet not; always absolutely human. Always fully developed and always written with a deep respect, Sorkin created women that we could all relate to.

The third thing Sorkin brings to TV is a fully developed universe behind the scenes. We see the same quirky assistants, the same helpers running around, the same faces, many, many faces, week after week after week. Sorkin creates entire, self-contained worlds that need virtually no suspension of disbelief in order to allow yourself to get swept up in them.

Studio 60 is no exception. I watched the pilot multiple times and rejoiced at the return of a Sorkin-created universe. Not only are the dialogue, characters, plot, etc, a treat, but We get to see some familiar faces who have appeared elsewhere in the Sorkin universe

(try to spot Leo's daughter!). The pilot contained all three of the main ingredients for the Sorkin trademark, which is so refreshing. The pilot makes you laugh, but the drama is present. While there is a dark streak that runs through Sorkin's comedy, it still has a lightness and dare I say hopeful aspect to it that appeals to so many viewers. There is no doubt great drama on TV right now, not much great comedy, but so few that a) combine both and B) manage to do so with such lightness and effortlessness.

But what I found makes Studio 60 so special is the personal nature that this show implies. The two main characters, Matt and Danny (played by Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford respectively) are a writing/directing team who won't work without the other, mirroring the relationship between Sorkin and his go-to director Tommy Schlamme. There are a few other parallels that are revealed in the pilot that I won't spoil here, but is interesting to see a professional and deeply personal relationship recreated in the show.

I wonder how much is personal to the writer himself. I would think quite a bit.

Another interesting parallel is how Matt and Danny are brought back to NBS (the imaginary station) after being unceremoniously "dismissed" (there is some debate as to whether they quit or were fired) in order to save the show and the station. Sound a little like Sokin and Schlamme being unceremoniously "dismissed" from The West Wing and then brought back to NBC in order to save the station? Jack Rudolph, played by Steven Webber, is the network suit who pissed them off the first time, but has to watch them come back into the

fold, knowing that they do represent the saviors. Fact and fiction collide! Because Studio 60, I think, can save the network. It's that good.

I could say a lot about all of the other characters, but I think I will leave it at that. What's bad? The nagging fear that I have when watching the pilot that this is all too good to be true and will flame out before we want it to. Who will pull a Rob Lowe? Will

there be dissension in the writing room? Will the network botch it (it would be hard, but who knows!)? I'm being pessimistic, but I am so positive about the show that I am terribly fearful for it's future. TV has let me down over the course of my life, and this would be too much to bear.

Do what you like with this. It's long, it's rambling, but the show inspired nothing less than that in this humble pseudo-reviewer.

Thanks, herc.

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Thanks for posting this because I forgot when it was premiering. I think it will be the breakout hit of the season. I love all the actors involved. I know the writing will be excellent and can't wait to watch tonight!

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"Second, you can tell 'em that living where there's free speech means sometimes you're gonna get offended."

Damn, right!!

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What role does Jordan play at NBS :) LOL. ( I wonder what Aaron would have called the network, had CBS picked the pilot up?)

And what role does the Steve Weber play.

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