Tonight NBC tries to get itself back in the game. The new television season is upon us, and the network could really use a hit show. NBC has gone back to the well that brought them The West Wing with Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme coming back to the network. This time though, rather than looking at Washington, they’re going to a place that makes Washington politics look positively clean by comparison: television.
Tonight, NBC premieres Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It’s a show about a show. Really, it’s a show about a Saturday Night Live-type variety show, except rather than taking place in New York, the variety show is done in L.A. Of course, NBC has another show about a Saturday Night Live-type show too, this one by an SNL alum, Tina Fey’s 30 Rock. I don’t care what NBC says, avoiding any discussion of quality, longevity, the audience’s interest level, acting, writing, etc., etc., it just seems completely weird to run two new shows about the inner-workings of a television variety show on the same network. But, as 30 Rock does not premiere for another few weeks, that is a discussion for another time.
As for Studio 60… it’s funny, it’s serious, and it’s really good. It’s not great, but it’s really good. The moments at the end of each act of the show are really well executed. Going into virtually every commercial break something truly compelling or outstanding occurred, something that absolutely made you want to see what would happen when the show came back (and let’s face it, staying tuned through the commercials is the whole point).
Sorkin went out and got an absolutely fantastic cast for the show, and in the pilot they live up to expectations. Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry standing there side-by-side just seem right. The two play off of each other exceedingly well and are incredibly comfortable with one another. In fact, seeing the two of them together in a show, it’s actually difficult to remember that this is their first season appearing like this on screen. They make a completely wonderful pair.