Monday, September 11, 2006

Studio 60: Perfect for Aaron Sorkin Return

If you haven't heard, the upcoming Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip premier show is available for streaming from (it will air on TV next Monday, the 18th) (see the news, and some short reviews). I watched it. You can too at the AOL site; however, because it uses WM DRM you'll probably need Windows Media Player 10, which is only available on Windows XP. That's right, you probably won't be able to watch it even on Windows 2000. That really sucks. But that's just how stupid Microsoft DRM is. Well, that's just how stupid DRM is. Additionally, STRANGELY it opened FINE with Firefox but there was a JavaScript error with Microsoft Internet Explorer, so you might want to try viewing the site with Firefox in order to watch the episode. I watched it (45 minutes) in full screen mode, and it looked fine.

I enjoyed it. I actually thought Matthew Perry did an especially good job. You can feel the similarities between it and the format of The West Wing. Music rumbles quietly in the background as title credits put a period on a tense scene at the beginning, for example (oh, and they brought Snuffy back to produce the music). However, there are major differences too. I think Bradley Whitford is trying very very hard not to slide into the Joshua Lyman typecast that actually started well before The West Wing (by the way, have you now noticed movies before The West Wing where he and John Spencer both had roles? (e.g. Presumed Innocent) This happens a lot with certain groups of actors. I wonder if this has something to do with having a shared agent. It makes me wonder about how much casting is actually done on pure connections and not primarily on merit). I think Whitford does a good job avoiding the Lyman trap.

Overall, I think it's great how this show is about two men (a producer and a director? Two producers? Maybe I'm slow, but I didn't catch exactly all of the roles that people would play) who are asked to return to a show that they were forced to leave earlier in life. This seems to parallel Aaron Sorkin's dismissal from The West Wing and his welcoming back for this show. There are some other very specific parallels to the Aaron Sorkin dismissal, but I won't ruin the surprises for you. However, I will mention that I especially like how at the end of the show in the final scene, when the two men march out onto the stage to make their first speech to the cast, and the cast welcomes them with clapping and cheers, the scene pans out and fades away as the final credits appear in the middle of the screen. Behind the credits all you can really see are the backs of the two men who have accepted the charge to take over Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and rescue it. What do those final credits say?
Executive Producers
Aaron Sorkin
Thomas Schlamme

(note: Thomas Schlamme worked with Sorkin on The West Wing)

Welcome, fall TV season.

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