'Studio 60': Please kill me now

Holy crap, that may have been the worst hour 55 minutes of scripted TV I’ve ever forced myself to sit through. After a three-month hiatus, Studio 60 finally returned to burn off its last few episodes, starting with the aptly-titled ep "The Disaster Show." The premise: a broadcast of the sketch show in which Murphy’s Law takes over with a vengeance (prop handlers and cue-card holders on strike, bomb threat in the studio, and the usual personal crises). The problem: the imitative fallacy — showrunner Aaron Sorkin apparently thought the chaotic shambles of the plotline should be reflected in the execution of his sloppy writing and Thomas Schlamme’s uncharacteristically blind and tone-deaf direction.

Seriously, this was amateur hour all around. Subplots fizzled out and were left to die. Poor Simon (D.L. Hughley) was stuck with a storyline that had him commit the same ticket to Hawaii to two different women (both of whom, of course, found out, leaving him with no traveling companion), a plot Sorkin stole from an old Brady Bunch episode. None of the actors was given anything to play except for Lord-just-let-us-make-it-through-til-curtain desperation. I felt especially bad for Allison Janney (playing herself, as guest-host), whom Sorkin must have called in as a favor (I made you a star on West Wing; the least you can do is help rearrange the deck chairs on my Titanic), and whom he thanked by making her look as ridiculous and out-of-place as possible. And we were still stuck with Harriet’s (Sarah Paulson) continued dithering over whether or not she should rekindle her romance with Matt (Matthew Perry), even though Perry and the other two leads (Bradley Whitford and Amanda Peet) were all MIA. (What happened to Jordan and her pregnancy, and her unlikely romance with stalkerish Danny? Or to the make-or-break Chinese deal?). No real explanation for the stars’ absence; maybe they saw the script and joined the prop guys on the picket line.

Observers have wondered why, when NBC is willing to take a chance on low-rated but intelligent series like 30 Rock and Friday Night Lights and renew them for a second season, it’s given up on Studio 60. After "The Disaster Show," I think we have our answer. NBC programming chief Kevin Reilly said last week that the show had run its course; I think he was just being kind. I almost want to admire Sorkin for thumbing his nose at everyone and being determined to go down in flames no matter what anyone else thinks, but then I ponder this series’ colossal waste of a cushy spot on the NBC schedule, talent, money, and time (especially mine, since I had to watch and write reviews of every episode of this show), and I just get angry.

So, who’ll be tuning in next Thursday to watch more Studio 60? And will you be tuning in because you still hope against hope that the show can go out with some dignity, or because you anticipate another spectacular train wreck?

Comments (49 total) Add your comment
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  • Chris

    Wow Gary…tell us how you really feel!

  • Ep Sato

    Chris, LOL.
    Studio 60 never gave me reason to want to watch it. The show felt very patronizing towards its audience (the message I saw screamed at me “love our injoke laden and smug series you reality tv liking moron!”), and didn’t give the good vibe of 30rock.
    Rarely are my predictions correct, but I do seem to have said this series was bound for failure. Shame I was right, as there was still some potential in this series.

  • Ron Mexico

    I really wish this would have all played out differently. I hitched my wagon to this instead of “30 Rock”. I’m staying away from Vegas – apparently I don’t have the hot hand.

  • Robert

    I’ll continue to watch this once promising show continue to devolve into a train wreck, if only because Met games tend to end before 10 PM on Thursdays. Plus, there’s only 5 episodes left, and I’d really like to see what other plotlines Sorkin will cannibalize from Sports Night/West Wing.

  • Green Gummi Bear

    Did anyone else feel that the episode was made after it was told it was cancelled, like they had to fullfil the contract so they made this? That’s why none of the three leads were on, that’s why it was a mess, it was a big middle finger to everyone and sandwiched in, and then next week they start showing the ones they made before the cancellation decision. It was just WAY too off. The only reason I kept up with it was for how Matt was able to actually move on from Friends, I thought he was great. Oh well, trying to be bitter and cute by making this just fullfils everyone’s notion that it was a bad show. Nice loss of class.

  • Christopher

    Yeah, this episode was off, but I still like the premise of the show. I will watch out the rest of the series. I mean, its not like there’s anything else better on.

  • Ang Knee

    I’ll watch to the end. I enjoyed most of the episodes — some of the best TV this year. Last night’s literally put me to sleep, the last thing I expected. The promo said, “Nothing will prepare you for what happens next,” and it was right.

  • Rob

    The speculation I’ve read is that this was that this was basically a “second pilot” that Sorkin made to show NBC that he could do a second season on the cheap — without the three expensive leads, a lighter tone, and no distracting ongoing subplots. It really didn’t work.

  • RobC

    It’s a shame that the quality of this series has declined this much. To NBC’s credit, the pilot (which I had rented on Netflix before it aired) was one of the strongest pilots that I’ve seen to date. Both “Studio 60″ and the “Ugly Betty” pilots played out like great short films.

  • Jill

    Sadly, I was unaware this was even on last night… This show had so much potential… it is sad it was wasted.

  • Talking Moviezzz

    Gary, you are being too kind.
    You forgot the worst line:
    WEBER: “Do you know what a bomb will do to our insurance premiums???”
    Ouch. Down there with “Your brother is standing in a field in Afghanistan!!”

  • Fatima

    I normally love you, but PLEASE! You’ve made it clear the whole season how much you hate the show. It is cancelled. You got your damn wish. Now will you let the few of us who do enjoy it (No we aren’t all morons)in its final moments? I mean, what are you trying to prove right now? Can we expect more of the same next Friday too? I admit it wasn’t the best episode, but damn, you’re like a broken record.

  • Kati

    The show didn’t have an original moment during the whole episode. Timothy Busfield did a fine job with the worst writing Sorkin’s ever handed down, but let’s face it, it was only half-watchable with the three leads. Trainwrecks are only fun when someone interesting is on the train.

  • Anonymous

    I really can’t express how disappointed I am in this show. I was hoping it would almost be like giving Sports Night a second chance, with all the new resources open to Sorkin after the success of the West Wing.
    I wish this show would have been made on an Etch-a-Sketch, so we could just shake it and start over.

  • Hannah

    I really can’t express how disappointed I am in this show. I was hoping it would almost be like giving Sports Night a second chance, with all the new resources open to Sorkin after the success of the West Wing.
    I wish this show would have been made on an Etch-a-Sketch, so we could just shake it and start over.

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