Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sorkin is Back, Mostly

The Christmas Episode of Studio 60 bought a good chunk of the Sorkin magic back, for the first time in a long time. First of all the Sorkin TEAM is back: we no longer have the lame hit-you-over-the-head artists versus the corporate guys -- everyone, it turns out, is a good guy (which shouldn't work, but Sorkin always makes it work), including Webber and Asner. We have a better screwball couple -- an actually adorable story -- to eclipse the Matt and Harriet thing, which just didn't work, perhaps because Sorkin was too close to it (it is largely autobiographical). Danny falling for a pregnant woman he should, by all rights, hate, is great fun (and Whitford makes it work, with his awkward little kid looks and smacking the desk); big declarations of love while Jordan is wide-eyed and has a mouth full of sandwich is what I was looking for. Hopefully these kinds of scenes will replace the Matt-and-Harriet wet-fish-love-looks-during-Sting-songs scenes. Sorkin also gets his tearjerker, although it has to be admitted that he gets it in the easiest way possible, by milking recent real life tragedy, rather than, say, writing one of those great Sorkin speeches ("They weren't born wanting to do this!"). The Harriet scenes still drag, and the view of the show-within-a-show is still horrendous, but otherwise -- we have a good direction established. I am feeling more confident, and I just thought people would like an update.

[I am moving the usual Tuesday commonplace book entry to Thursday, so this post will be more topical].


Marc Caputo said...

I've been a cautious fan of this show since the beginning, but I'm starting to believe that they've really got something. I don't want to see Matt and Harriet (who I'm falling more and more in love with as the weeks go by) get (back) together unless Sorkin can create something organic for their love to grow from. I'm not so sure I'm all for the Jordan/Danny thing but it's got two things going for it: a. it doesn't make sense on paper, but it feels right (and the inevitable conflicts will make for some great drama, I'm certain) and b. Danny's line to Jordan hit me like a brick and got my wife (who tolerates the show, like I tolerate "Heroes" for her) to look up from her scrapbooking and say to me with misty eyes, "OK, that bastard finally got me."
I'm going to spend the S60 break downloading and rewatching episodes (the video iPod seems to be Christmas tree bound!); I look forward to this show more than any other and most comics lately. It's not Sorkin's masterwork, but he's got another 1/2 season or so.

RAB said...

My immediate reaction to Danny's line to Jordan was to wince and think "That's the sort of macho bullshit guys think is romantic but which women find obnoxious and potential harassment" -- but I've now seen about half a dozen female viewers describe that moment as incredibly romantic. The lesson here? RAB knows nothing about women.

Matt Brady said...

Wow, this was possibly my least favorite episode of the show yet. Everything seemed really stiff and awkward, especiall Cal (is that the name of the director character?) and his coconut wackiness. The Danny/Jordan stuff was okay (I'm starting to like Amanda Peet a bit more; at least she's willing to look goofy), and I'm glad it didn't end up being a Matt/Harriet lovefest like the commercials promised, but most of the episode just didn't grab me. The song at the end was really nice though.

Darius Kazemi said...

Yep, I liked this one quite a bit.

Mitch said...

I actually chuckled a little at the "To Catch A Predator" sketch. Thanks Mark McKinney.

MELLON said...

I didn't give two $hit$ about sorkin or anything he'd done till studio 60, and from the first episode I have been immersed in this show. I find that it raises the bar for writing and quality in tv with every episode.

I've listened to and read so many different complaints about 60 and all they really boil down to is "it's not West Wind, it's not Sports Night".

I, having watched sports night since starting 60 and putting off WW, think that's a good thing. Frankly I'm glad this show is alienating people with expectations as to what it should or should not be. That's not the kind of tv he's trying to make, and he's made it clear with the subject matter of the show itself that he wants viewer's to be smarter about what they watch, and a lot of that starts with the networks.

Dan Carlson said...

I thought this episode was pretty good, though I'm with you on the ending being a little too easy — it was a nice moment, but certainly not the one-two punch of Isacc's monologue and Dan and Casey's staff thanks in the Christmas episode of the first season of "Sports Night." Still, it was a good episode. The Danny-Jordan dynamic is much more interesting than the soupy relationship between Matt and Harriet.

I liked Danny's little proclamation to Jordan, but I think it came off just a tad creepy. "I'm coming for you" is a hard line to pull off without sounding like a determined stalker.

But even when it's not great, it's still not bad, and it's always good to spend a little more time in Sorkin's worlds.

Marc Caputo said...

You know, this just hit me this morning while waiting for the bus:
Christine Lahti's Martha O'Dell is going to triangle the Danny/Jordan thing up quite nicely. I still get floored every time I think of Casey saying to Gordon, "You're wearing my shirt." on Sports Night. I think Sorkin could really blow into the final third with this ... and well.