The press rumors are now swirling that the highly touted and mega hyped Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is going to be "imminently cancelled."
Let's hope not. It's gotten better since its slow-ish start, and the most recent episode was pure and classic Sorkin magic.
Studio 60, a drama that goes behind-the-scenes at a Saturday Night Live-esque nationally televised show, is a show held (and which holds itself) to nearly impossible standards: it must reflect the "real world" of live television production, it must be groundbreaking or at least issue relevant commentary on society or pop culture in some way (Sorkin's characters on both The West Wing and Studio 60 strive to appeal to our higher angels), it must be interesting and dramatic, and it must be funny (at least within its show-within-a-show dynamic).
I'll argue it's getting pretty close to doing all of that, with the exception of the last bit. I would argue that we, the audience, really don't need to see the sketch comedy of Studio 60 very often at all in order for the show to work. But that's a different story.
The show works on the strength of the writing and characters, particularly Matthew Perry as Matt Albie and Bradley Whitford as Danny Tripp. Perry, especially, has been impressive of late, and, if nothing else, has thrown off the shackles of being known forevermore as Chandler, or "one of the dudes from Friends." Last week, Albie's storylines with Harriet Hayes (Sarah Paulson, who is growing on me after a sluggish start) and Simon Stiles (D.L. Hughley) drove the show. Perry and Hughley were especially fascinating in arguing over the limits of what any one comedy writer – black or white — can deliver to an audience. And the show really transcended to greatness as the two agreed to spontaneously take a chance on hiring a black comedian who had just gotten booed off the stage at a local L.A. comedy club.
Even though NBC is currently fretting over high production costs of scripted shows, the suits should take heed of Jordan McDeere's (Amanda Peet, who has never been better than as the new president of the NBS network) notion that quality television pays for itself.