Sunday, November 25, 2012

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Many, if not most of you, have probably never heard of this television show.  It debuted in 2006, the same year that the very popular 30 Rock began it's run.  Both shows were about a late night comedy sketch show, however, the perspectives were entirely different.  After 22 episodes, Studio 60 was summarily cancelled.  So, why am I writing about it now?  That's simple - I LOVE IT.  Although I have attempted to watch 30 Rock on a couple of occasions, I find it unbearable.  I find the characters annoying, offensive, self-centered and, frankly, not terribly intelligent. 

When Studio 60 was announced, there was no question that I would watch it.  It was scripted by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Thomas Schlamme.  Both of them are geniuses in their fields. 

I have three screenwriters whom I positively adore, in no particular order:  Aaron Sorkin, Joss Whedon and Lawrence Kasdan.  All three have scripted my favorite television series and/or several of my favorite movies.  All three of these men are funny, witty and take me on an emotional roller coaster ride.  Their characters, both heroes and villains, are fully human and a joy to watch.

Studio 60 was Sorkin's third television series.  His first, Sports Night, was delightful.  It was critically acclaimed, but suffered from low ratings.  ABC gave it a chance and it lasted 3 seasons.  Before Sports Night was cancelled, Aaron had already started his masterpiece, The West Wing.  The two main stars of Studio 60, Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford, met and worked together on The West Wing.  Their natural camaraderie was evident on screen.

Studio 60 is semi-autobiographical, with Matt Perry playing a Sorkin like character and Bradley Whitford playing a Tommy Schlamme like character.  Sarah Paulson's role is based upon Kristin Chenoweth.

A couple of years ago, I watched the series again online.  It was as fresh as it had been when it debuted.  I recently borrowed the DVD set from a friend and watched the first 8 episodes in the past 24 hours.  It is simply a travesty that this show wasn't renewed - the only show by Aaron Sorkin that didn't get green lighted for a second season.   If you have Netflix, subscribe to Hulu or can possibly get the DVDs from your local library - DO IT!  As with all of Aaron's work, the scripts are filled with fast paced, smart, funny dialog and great story lines.  The actors are at their best.  In addition to Matt Perry, Brad Whitford and Sarah Paulson, the cast includes Amanda Peete, Steven Weber, D. L. Hughley, Nate Corddry (he is wonderful and adorable), Timothy Busfield and Simon Helberg (of Big Bang Theory and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog fame).  Helberg does a killer imitation of Nicholas Cage and Sarah Paulson's Holly Hunter is a laugh riot. 

Instead of listing the works of Sorkin, Whedon and Kasdan, check them out on IMDB.  I hope you will watch the series.  It's really, really worth it.





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