Monday, November 13, 2006

Studio 60, Episode 8: No no. No. No.

The eighth episode of Studio 60 just ended ("Nevada Day part 2"). The seventh episode had some of the old Sorkin kick to it, and much of the eighth had some good stuff (Bradley Whitford, for example, was quite funny in just about every shot, even when he had nothing to say). But the whole thing resolved into a joke where the big bad boss finally locates his moral compass and rants against the big money Chinese client he is supposed to grab, defending the cast of Studio 60 as honorable even though it will cost him probably billions of dollars. The joke? It's all a misunderstanding because the Chinese guy's daughter made a gross translation error, a conclusion worthy, perhaps, of an episode of Just Shoot Me, or something equally wretched.



Marc Caputo said...

First of all, congratulations on becoming a household name! Besides (finally) getting my brother to visit this blog, over the last two weeks of S60, my wife has remarked to me, "What will your blog guy think/say of this episode?"
When it comes to the last two episodes, I thought they were great. Good call on Whitford (one of the many times I laughed out loud was his head throwback at the station.) Goodman was, as he always was, a homer for Sorkin; too bad, his wasn't a character that could be re-used. My initial weak point for the whole show was Harriet, but ever since the Sting episode (and even in episode 6 - the worst TV show in recent memory), I've really come to an appreciation of her character - she's the only cast member that I can't peg as an analog or even a compilation of SNL people. The hinge for getting Tom out of trouble didn't seem like an "ex machina" and even helped to make some retro sense of episode 6 (have I mentioned how bad that one was?)
And to me, I thought the ending was well done. I considered the alternative - having the father reconsider due to Jack's passionate defense; that would of made him too much of a hero. Here, it just helps to keep him a big blowhard. Where I had the problem was that I think it was too soon to reveal Jack's true feelings and especially to do so in front of Danny.
For me, the NBC show, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip", is beginning to build a context for itself. It seems that the NBS "Studio 60" will become the catalyst for NBS' ascension, as opposed to it being all about the "behind the scenes" of NBS' "Studio 60".This works in a meta-textual sort of way; in "our" world, the last few weeks was kind of iffy for the show; its cancellation (averted!) would have signified for NBC what Jordan fears for NBS.
The only problem I'm having over the last two weeks is that Matthew Perry isn't getting the airtime you'd think his character demands - but maybe that's just these eps.

Katrin said...

Excuse me for being completely crude in my writing skills in this comment -- I'm at work and have but a moment.

I have to agree with your review, but go one step further. I think the show is really going downhill. Harriet's character has bothered me from the beginning. And it is not because of her belief (and outspokeness thereof) that irks me (I think its interesting to have a character like that on a prime show. Its not something really ever touched upong. This coming from an atheist.) Its just her continual whining. I equate her character to a wet rag. I do admit they've been giving her more meat and its helped, somewhat. But I just feel like she is dead weight. Maybe its the actress and her irksome lisp? I can't put into words exactly why she bothers me so much, but she does. I think the action of the show just stops every time she has a scene. And the relationship between her and Matthew Perry's character is completely unbelievable to me. He's a man steadfast in his convictions and she in hers, I can't possibly fathom how they could be in love, in real life at least. I know love can be blind to a person's beliefs, etc. But religion is a big one and at times I'm just at a loss during their cutesy-wutesy moments.

And how boring are they making Tom's story line? It goes back to the dreaded episode where his parents visited (who in their generation hasn't heard of Laurel and Hardy? I actually yelled at the television). Complete boring mush. The first 3 eps (if memory serves) were complete zingers -- the writing, the pace, the cinematography, the acting was all on. Each character was exaggerated and got away with stuff you couldn't at a network (I worked at NBC for a time), but it was pretty believable.

Now it all just seems kind of tired. People are already stuck in their characters' ruts. It all just seems so predictable now. And changing Jordan from snarky to wantonly looking for a friend was just LAME.

There. I'm done.

RAB said...

I didn't care for the episode overall much more than you did...but there's one point you might want to reconsider. Although it does not come across as clearly as it should, it definitely seems like the intent behind the rant and the Chinese father's response is that the "translation error" was a polite fiction devised between father and daughter on the spot to spare the father the embarassment of an apology. For the daughter, so fluent in both languages, to have made an error would be pretty farfetched...but saving face for her dad by claiming "Oops, my bad! I mistranslated what my dad said before!" and laughing it off is a clever moment.

And for that matter, the executive's rant wasn't totally unsupported dramatically -- in the previous episode, I was sure he'd try to impress the visiting bigwig by saying "See, this shows our loyalty to our people, going all this way to defend one of them being unjustly accused!" For him to explode like that while tired, under stress, and nearly having been arrested doesn't do great damage to his character.

Geoff Klock said...

Marc: my concern is that Matthew Perry is not interesting enough to support more air time, so I was glad to be off of him for a while -- as has been said before, the problem with that character is that we keep being told he is a genius, but we don't see it. That is kind of a big problem. On the ending of episode 8: you considered an alternative reaction for the father, but consider getting rid of the lost in translation joke altogether -- that's the thing that bothered me; I don't deny it could have been worse, I just wish it had not been there at all.

Katrin: I agree completely. I do not think you are going a step further than me -- I think we are on exactly the same page. I just also think there have been a handful of moments that have been great, mostly from Whitford.

Rab: I agree that the rant was not unsupported dramatically; but I am not at all clear that your reading of the scene is right -- it COULD be right, but the episode was not at all clear if that was what it was after.

ping33 said...

I have been seeing S60 in terms of your War on Medicracy (as detailed in your OMEC post)as a train-wreck for some time now. At about the 4th ep I realized that I has having more fun pausing the show to lambaste it with my wife, and fighting about it in the comment fields of this blog than I was in actually watching the show. It is one of the most bizarre, short-sighted, patronizing pieces of crap ever to air in prime-time. It's sanctimonious quality which conveys both a stunning breadth of ego as well as a disdain for its audience (which is only one-upped by its disdain for those who aren't watching) conspire to make it Must See TV for Me.

Anonymous said...

I just want to add that I agree with RAB's interpretation of Jack's rant. That was definitely how I read it, and I'm not sure that the episode was any clearer that YOUR reading was more correct. I think that the interpretation is meant to be left up to the viewer. As someone who watches a lot of Aaron Sorkin, I'm sure I don't have to tell you that he frequently doesn't spell things out.

Geoff Klock said...

anonymous: not always spelling things out is a good thing (and you are right, Sorkin is often very good at not spelling everything out); making an important plot point -- making what just happened -- very unclear is a bad thing (and we agree it is unclear). If he had wanted us to debate what was going on in that scene it should have been presented differently.

Darius Kazemi said...

The ending was dumb, but I enjoyed the rest of the episode far more than I did Part 1.

I guess my only other problem with it was that Sorkin already made it clear several times in the episode that Jack is really a softie who cares about everyone underneath it all. Which kind of made the ending rant far less of a jaw-dropping moment than it could have been. (And, by the way, up to the "it was a joke" point, the rant was great.)

Geoff Klock said...

Darius: thanks for posting. And you are right it was a great rant, though my favorite part was Whitford's face during the rant.

Katrin said...

Agreed 100%. Whitford steals the show.