Saturday, October 21, 2006

Studio 60 and other things Hollywood

Have you watched Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip? Do you have a strong opinion (either positive or negative) like most other people that watch the show? Do you want to see it succeed or would you rather it fail?

I have watched the show and I can say that I am of mixed opinions regarding whether the show is good or bad, ridiculously pretentious or simply more of the same Sorkinesque style that we should all have expected from the beginning.

I watched a bit of Sorkin's first tv show about backstage TV (Sports Night). As I've said to readers around the office, I found the dialogue a bit off-putting. No one really talks like Sorkin writes and while I understand that it is refreshing to see people challenge one another verbally on television for a change, it just felt TOO forced.

I never really watched The West Wing. I admire what it stood for and what it did, but I just wasn't that much of a fan.

So, why have I been watching Studio 60? Mostly because it (and Heroes) are the best thing on Monday nights and I can't sit and do office work into the night or blog all the time, can I? Plus, I am a sucker for buzz . . . and this show had lots of buzz heading into September. The idea seemed interesting, so I thought I would give it a try.

I . . . like it, but that is a qualified like. I still find the verbal patter to be grating at times, and I don't like the fact that this feels exactly like the West Wing, but just transplanted from the most famous building in Washington D.C. to the back stage of a Hollywood studio. And, I don't like the reports that the plot line so far are just warmed-over retellings of Sorkin's own romantic and professional mistakes.

Some fan I am, huh? Nothing but criticism.

But, the potential for something is there. Having someone of Sorkin's intelligence and (undeniable) skill with words and rhetoric turning his pen towards television could be really great. Unfortunately, Sorkin doesn't know how to be funny in the Saturday Night Live style. (It is debatable if SNL remembers how to be funny either . . . but well . . .) Anyway, the sketches of the show-within-the-show need to be greatly improved or simply removed from view. And I like the Harriet character. She's a Christian, but she's not a stereotypically right-wing mindless Christian (I think). We'll see where it goes, but it had better move away from the romance of Mat and Harry really fast. I'll get my romance somewhere else, thanks.

But enough about what I think. I found that the hard-workers over at Entertainment Weekly have interesting things to say about Studio 60. Many of them absolutely don't like the show, while others are standing up for it. I like the arguments that people gave the West Wing a pass because it was supposed to be important, while television is not important at all.

***

If you don't want to discuss that, then how about this list? Who ARE the most influential fictional characters in culture? I am instantly worried about the fact that the Marlboro Man is more "influential than Santa Claus. (Huh?) I also a bit stunned that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is more influential than Batman. (That sort of tells you how old the writers are.) And please, pity poor Paul Bunyan who is deemed less influential than John Doe, who is a fiction of a fiction--if you see what I mean. This list is taken, I think, from a book recently published.

I like these sort of stupid lists and I always wonder why I'm not writing these sorts of things. Do people actually make a living writing this? Where do I sign up?

4 comments:

Jack Thunder said...

thanks for writing about S.60.
i like it, too, tho i don't disagree with most of the criticisms.
last week i finally noticed the romantic idealism--the same that we saw so much of in The West Wing--sneaking into the show. so Sorkin's a romantic; there are worse crimes, i guess. it was a bit easier to forgive when the setting was the White House, however.
i think the slander that he and the show is "pretentious" is mostly anti-intellectualism. i think there's a way to make TV intelligent in a more subtle manner (...and, yeah, i wish he'd do it...), but TV is generally so stupid all the time that i am not gonna complain about it.

i should also make the point that, despite his shows' "idealism," there is also a lot of realism there, too. the shows are full of insider-, jargon-y talk and, at least in The West Wing, some pretty realistic political subject matter (some!, i say). and i think this strikes the anti-intellectual (and stupid) crowd the wrong way and makes them summon the biggest word they know--"pretentious."

anyway, i've been finding it not very profound but fairly well acted, -written, -filmed, and pleasantly diverting.

as for your list-making potential: get on it! i'll publish your first book of lists and accompanying addenda/pop-detritus. or i'll film it. anyway, get started!

fuzzyblu said...

I am a fan of both The West Wing and Sports Night. As such, I was really excited for Studio 60....

I'm enjoying the show for the same reasons that I enjoyed the other two, all of which have already been mentioned. But primarily I love the smart dialogue for the same reasons that I love a Tennessee Williams play. Even if people don't talk that way, I wish they would sometimes.

I have high hopes for Studio 60 but I have yet to be grabbed by any character or storyline. (I agree that the Mat and Harry romance was old before it started). I found last night's episode to be particularly effective because it was the first time that the show did not center around the creation of the show within the show.

Jack Thunder said...

unfortunately i really disliked last night's show, but it's good that people can enjoy it for different reasons.

and i agree that the show-within-a-show is pretty lame, especially, as some have pointed out, since the show the brilliant characters are supposed to be creating never seems to be the least bit funny or intelligent.

Burb said...

I taped/haven't watched Monday's episode yet, but it seems like it wasn't steller. More troublesome still was the EW staffer that defended the show in the link I provided above now is having second thoughts about her championing of the show--at least based on last night's episode.