What do they shoot on Studio 61, anyway?

Some notes on the new episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, airing tonight in the US but last night in Toronto — thanks, Canadians!


So OK, this episode is a mixed bag. Shortly after the halfway mark, the episode launches into what might be the most interesting story about the making of a comedy TV show that Studio 60 has yet uncorked — basically, after the live telecast, someone realizes that ninety seconds of comedic material for the show was plagiarized. After that moment, the episode is first-rate. How they deal with the aftermath of plagiarism, how Matt deals with the staff writers, the technical stuff with the show’s live East Coast telecast being over but the West Coast tape delay having not aired yet — it’s all great stuff. I’ve made the West Wing comparison before, and not favorably, but here it works: this is like when TWW would have a big political crisis and everyone would just work. So yeah, the second half of this episode is good.

Before that, however, it’s boring tripe.

I’m sorry, but the whole subplot with Matt the writer and Harriet the Christian comedian has got to end, and it’s got to end soon. It’s just painful to watch unfold. I don’t know if it’s the lack of chemistry between Matthew Perry and that actress or what, but as a couple they’re uninspiring, as a fighting couple they’re uninteresting, and as a former couple who can’t decide if they’re in love or completely over one another they’re exasperating. There’s a whole bit about a baseball bat that Harriet’s giving to Matt, but the bat turns out to be a come-on from the baseball player, who turns out to be possibly dating Harriet, who…oh, screw it.

Aaron Sorkin milks this storyline for half the episode, to the point where it seems that the only reason for it is for him to be able to inject as much “Inside Baseball” talk into his dialogue as possible. But Matt and Harriet are so unconvincing as a couple that I want to scream, “Get to the TV stuff!”

This episode’s Standout Sorkinism: When Harriet is complaining loudly about how Matt has been sleeping with a woman in her own workplace, with that woman in the room, the woman says: “You know I’m sitting right here, right?”

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One Response to What do they shoot on Studio 61, anyway?

  1. Anonymous says:

    My God, Elaine, it’s a Ziggy!

    To the archives!

    (My apologies to those who aren’t J. Peterman fans)

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