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Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip 1.05 - "The Long Lead Story"

A relatively soft episode. Some nice moments, but as a whole it didn't come together.

Matt's comment to Martha (Christine Lahti, who's turned into Sigourney Weaver over the years) about having covered presidents and wars, so why do a story about a Hollywood TV show, was - surely - a bit of meta commentary by Sorkin ...

... who continues to bite the hand that feeds him. When asked by Jordan why a series should be on HBO rather than his own NBS (ie, C), Danny replies succinctly, that it's because "it's good". A zinger even better than "You work in television" from the pilot. The scene wasn't just a cheap dig however as the issue of quality vs quantity programming is key to this episode.

As someone who despised the concept of Temptation Island, where real relationships are destroyed for the sake of entertainment, I heartily backed Jordan's decision to pass on the next, even more degenerate, incarnation. There's even a business justification for it: you don't compromise on taste when repositioning for the A/B demographic, but of course this is premised on the idea that you can make money with good mainstream (ie free-to-air) TV shows. Sorkin, I think, is as optimistic on this front as he was on the role of government and political dialogue on The West Wing.

The pacing in this show was atypical, particularly in Act 1. Lacking was the customary verve, instead, we were given three longish set pieces, none of which were really all that effective: the sketch rehearsal (which quickly outplayed its welcome, though as a former owner, the C=64 joke drew a laugh), a long and rather blatant exposition of Harriet's backstory (interspersed with only the barest of banter), and Sting's first musical number.

Slower paced scenes can work well, when there's tension in them, as in the scene between Harriet and Matt at the end, where Sting's song was actually put to dramatic use.

Liked the lobster gags.


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» Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip 1.06 - "The Wrap Party" from world in progress...
The foundation was good writing. So, much kudos to those in the room who helped "break" the episode, Melissa Myers and Amy Turner (story credit) and, of course, Aaron Sorkin (teleplay) for the best (post-pilot?) Studio 60 yet. [Read More]

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