Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Notes on the new season (so far)

So, I watched my first show of the new fall TV season: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. And I'm sorry to report that my response was not so much exuberant. I mean, this from the man who gave me Sports Night? I don't think so.

To start with, what up with the pacing? Whole scenes meandered and occasionally outright stalled. For example, was the ten-years-of-my-life-I-want-back shot of that inconsequential alleyway behind the inconsequential club really, really important? That kind of lingering on scenery I expect from CSI, because there are clues and a crime victim somewhere about, but the only thing murdered in that alleyway last night was my attention span.

Even the title seems slowed down and weirdly imbalanced. Whyfore "on the Sunset Strip"? What is its purpose, its significance? I just -- why?

Worse, there was very little zing in the dialogue -- it was underwritten and underdelivered. Yes, I just said that about a script allegedly written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Thomas Schlamme. It was as if guest star Felicity Huffman had been directed to give her three whole lines as if she were addressing really inexpert lip readers -- and I've seen that woman chew through Sorkin-speak like it was candy. Poor Bradley Whitford seemed drained of all color, mono in tone, mono in emotion. If I weren't so busy blaming the script, I'd go so far as to say he was miscast. That's how much chemistry he lacked with his fellow performers.

The only person who managed to make something of the dialogue at times was (am I saying this right?) Matthew Perry (who seems to be falling nicely between Fat Chandler and Scary Thin Chandler these days, though clearly somebody needs to stage an intervention on the hair gel). But then maybe that's because Matt's character gets to do more than one thing: he starts out addled and amusing, but then surprises with the delicacy of his response to his friend's fall from sobriety. And then there's his sudden, almost reptilian professionalism when he starts running the show. I don't remember there being a Mean, Hard-nosed Chandler, and whoa, Mr. Perry nails it.

But is that enough to recommend the show? When the show makes everyone else seem like pale facsimiles of their former selves? (Have I even mentioned Timothy Busfield, Amanda Peet, Sarah Paulson, D. L. Hughley, or Nate Corddry? There's a reason for that.)


By which I mean, one more episode, because that's the kind of TV romantic I am.

Also up this week: Grey's Anatomy is back! Mmmmm.


Blogger MeiMeiLn said...

Thanks for the review. I was going to watch the show, but got home too late last night, then heard it was going to be re-aired on Bravo, but after your review, I think I'll wait until you watch teh second episode. :) Although, I kinda have a crush on whether scary skinny druggie or happy, fat Chandler...is that wrong? Do I need to watch Studio 60 for hard nose Chandler?

Tue Sep 19, 03:12:00 PM EDT  

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