Thursday, October 05, 2006

60 Thoughts

Studio 60 is turning out to be something of a surprising disappointment for me. I won't bail yet, or for a while really, since I keep finding enough good things to keep me watching (one example is Matthew Perry's performance in general and his final moments during this week's show--the juxtaposition of the wild success of the show and all the reveling and his sour, fated, expecting-doom mood were extremely well done). But I do find all the "comedy sketch" stuff to be off, somewhat.

Given that they are in many ways similar shows, it's instructive to compare 60 to The West Wing, where I found the "politics" stuff to be very compelling. A lot of the early praising of The West Wing was that it made dry-as-dust political concepts and stories compelling - and it did. 60 takes what should be more interesting "content" - comedy and its creation - and makes it dry. Maybe a large part of the difference is how well the average audience member knows comedy, versus how well the average audience member knows wonky politics. For example, I just started season six of The West Wing (which, yes, isn't Sorkin, but still), and the content of the first few episodes' primary story - the peace talks at Camp David - felt very real and believable. Now, maybe to someone who knows a lot about the Middle East all that material felt completely false. I don't know. But to the average viewer (or me), it felt real. Whereas the "genius" writing of Perry's character feels hacky.

I keep finding myself wondering if Sorkin should have done the same show but set, instead of in the comedy universe, in the political universe again. Maybe set at some kind of famous and august political roundtable program, or a big nightly news program. He could have used the same format and focus on backstage stuff, but the issues that would have been at play - the mostly off-screen "content" would have been firmly in his wheelhouse.

Until Whenever

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