Confession time: I really want to like Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip, but I find myself constantly asking: “Why is a one hour drama about the production of a SNL-type show important?” Yes, I’m well aware of the importance of satire in our society as a foil for The Powers That Be. I also know that having a large enough megaphone has a tremendous effect on the culture (for good or ill). Despite all that, there’s just something about the show that I don’t care about.
I loved The West Wing and watched it even when Aaron Sorkin (creator of both The West Wing and Studio 60) left the show after confessing to having a drug addiction and spending time in a drug rehab clinic. And while The West Wing had become predictable and clunky in terms of plot lines, it was still far better than 90% of what was on TV.
One of the reasons why The West Wing was such compelling television was that the stakes were much higher on a drama where the hub of activity is The White House. Studio 60 is also compelling TV, but it takes place on a comedy show were no one is really that funny, nor are the characters really that interesting. If I may make a comparison of this show to eating (another form of consumption that is pretty enjoyable), watching Studio 60 feels as though I’ve been asked to try a wide variety of wonderfully made desserts at an upscale restaurant by dessert chefs who are world-renowned. However, when all is said and done, I’ve done nothing more than consume a lot of empty calories. Sure the desserts tasted great, but give me a full meal that not only fills me up, but lifts my spirits, too.
Studio 60 gives me a semi-full feeling, but I also have a sugar rush from watching actors walk, talk, fret, vent, and seemingly loathe everything about the place they work — except when they succeed in pulling off a great show — that I kind of feel gross. And that probably comes from spending an hour with characters who seem so joyless and insecure that it makes it very difficult to bond with them. But hey, they look good! 🙂
I’ll stick with the show (for now), but if Sorkin doesn’t inject a good amount of sympathy and actual humor, then I might bail on this thing before the December holidays.
A show I won’t give up on, is Battlestar Galactic. I know, I’ve already blogged on this before and many of you are probably sick of me pushing this show. But I gotta say that for my money (which isn’t all that much), this show is such a wonderful sketch of humanity in times of crisis, that even if you don’t like science fiction, you’ll love this show for its character-driven plots.
With that said, season three is starting off on an uneven note. If I didn’t break down and read about some plot spoilers revealed in a Battlestar Galactica magazine and Entertainment Weekly, I would be questioning my allegiance to the show right now. Why? Well, simply put the main characters are scattered and don’t really interact with each other like they used to. Some of them are light years away, others are on a planet named “New Caprica” suffering under the occupation of the machines and machine/human hybrids known as the Cylons. Both groups of humans are trying to plot a way to escape from the Cylons (who, it should be noted, are much more complex than they have been in past seasons) and resume their search for Earth. However, until the humans fully rebel and are rescued by the crew of the Galactica, the show is bogged down in trying to tell the stories of the main characters in their new environments and roles. If there’s a word that comes to mind when I think about the premier and second episode it’s this: limbo. All the characters seem to inhabit a kind of “in-between” life that’s not well defined and they are all struggling to get back to their old identities. And because there’s a desire to “go back” to the way things were, the audience is also antsy to get there, too. I get the feeling that next week there’s going to be a sense of closure and new directions that will get the show back on track.
I didn’t think the creators of Lost could do it, but they have me hooked for a third season. Like the Cylons on BSG, this season gives us a more complex view of The Others. We know at least one of them has lived on the island for his entire life, and they live in a nice suburban enclave of the island. But we also find out (though I don’t think the writers intended it) that Sayid is a horrible solider. There’s a scene where Sayid and Jin are trying to lure some of The Others out of the woods and toward the beach where they’ve docked their boat. Well, Sayid is busy looking through some field glasses (which, by the way are not “night vision” goggles, so I’m not sure what he’s looking at since it’s night) to see if The Others have taken the bait and come down to the beach. But unfortunately, Sayid is not a very good tactician, and The Others grab the big prize: the boat and take off with it. Unluckily for The Others, Sun (Jin’s wife) in in the boat and she has a gun and uses it on one of them. As The Others speed away on the sail boat, Sun jumps off and into the water where Jin frantically tries to save her (he does, of course). Perhaps the makers of the show were trying to show us that some characters have a weakness where we’ve been led to believe that it’s their strength (i.e., Sayid as a useless ex-Republican guard in the Iraqi army), while others (like Sun) will surprise those who believe they know her and do something unexpected. Whatever the case, I was petty satisfied with this week’s espisode. I just hope they continue to surprise us! 🙂
Like most viewers of the show, I’m trying to figure out why the survivors of the jet airliner crash are there, and why The Others want to either kill them, enslave them, or make them one of their community. I don’t have any answers, but J was listening to NPR where they featured some of the writers and people who write about the show, and one essayist suggested that perhaps the answer to the central mystery of why they are all on the island can be found on another show that J.J. Abrams produced: Felicity.
The NPR program is pretty good, and if you want to hear it, you can by going HERE. The segment on Lost is about 31 minutes into the program. I won’t bother recapping what they talk about on the NPR program, because I’m sure I’ll get some of it wrong, so just listen for yourself.
If there was one criticism of Lost as a show it’s this: once the series ends, there’s no point of watching it again since you already know what it’s all leading up to. But so far, the ride sure is fun!