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Ten Reasons to Watch Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is about the behind-the-scenes machinations of a long-running sketch comedy show in the vein of “Saturday Night Live”. As we know from the second episode, Studio 60 also exists in the same universe as Saturday Night Live; they mention it by name a number of times. The difference between the two shows are important. Studio 60 takes place in Los Angeles and is aired on Friday nights. The premise is perfect for an hour-long drama because there is the built-in tension and suspense of putting together a live show with a deadline. And, who isn't interested about what goes on behind-the-curtain of a show with lots of talent and big egos?
Aaron Sorkin created Studio 60 and it's largely biographical. His cypher is Matt Albie (played by Matthew Perry), the new Head Writer for Studio 60. Sorkin created NBC's monster hit “The West Wing” and ABC's short-lived, yet brilliant “Sports Night”. Widely considered to be one of the best writers in Hollywood, Sorkin is known for his extremely clever dialogue and dynamic characters. Also, as a writer, he is prolific in a way that only him and David E. Kelley know. Sorkin will write almost every single episode of the show he is running. Even if he doesn't write a story for a particular episode, he will always at least write all the dialogue. This will give Studio 60 a consistency and focus most shows can only dream of.
3.Matthew Perry & Bradley Whitford
Matthew Perry has been largely anonymous since “Friends” ended, and that is a shame. Perry is, and always has been, an underrated and talented comedian who has deserved far better material than he has received outside of “Friends”. With the character of Matt Albie, he has been given a once-in-a-lifetime character that Perry is perfect for. It will be a huge upset if he isn't nominated for a Best Actor Emmy, and it wouldn't be surprising if he wins it.
Bradley Whitford plays Danny Tripp, Matt Albie's partner and co-show runner on Studio 60. Whitford is well-acquainted with Sorkin, having played Josh Lyman (a great character in itself) on “The West Wing” for it's entire run. The Danny character is a meaty one for Whitford; Danny is a recovering cocaine addict who is only working on Studio 60 because he tested positive for cocaine weeks before he was supposed to direct a movie (scripted by Matt Albie). Whitford is an excellent actor, and the chemistry between him and Perry is already superb.
4.Amanda Peet & Stephen Weber
Amanda Peet has been under-utilized for most of her career, which is a damn shame. The talented and beautiful actress got her start in “The Whole Nine Yards” (with Matthew Perry) and has since languished on the fringes of Hollywood's A-List. Again, Sorkin has created an incredible character for Peet to portray as the newly appointed NBS (Studio 60's fictional network) President Jordan McDeere. She is brash and ballsy, unafraid to take on the higher-ups for something she believes in. She has made it her goal to bring Studio 60 back to it's previous heights, and will stop at nothing to do so.
Facing off with Peet is Jack Rudolph, the NBS Chairman played by “Wings” Stephen Weber. Weber has been around for awhile, and is also a victim of receiving material not up to the level of his talent. His character is a worthy antagonist to Peet's idealistic network President, ruling with an iron fist and breaking down the realities of a company whose only goal is to make a profit.
5.D.L. Hughley & Nathan Corddry
Hughley and Corddry play two members of “The Big Three”, the most important and talented cast members on the show-within-the-show on Studio 60. D.L. Hughley has been around the comedy game for some time and is extremely famous in some circles, especially for his part in “The Original Kings of Comedy”. However, he has never found the spotlight like so many of his contemporary black comedians. He's been on prime time and had a couple of his own shows, but massive success has alluded him. What is interesting is that D.L. certainly had the talent to be on a Saturday Night Live type show, but is now likely to find the most important role of his career as an actor playing a member of a fictional comedy troupe.
Playing off Hughley will be the young Nathan Corddry, brother of “The Daily Show's” Rob Corddry, and, really, an unknown entity. Of all the cast members on Studio 60, Corddry is the biggest wild card. He hasn't had a lot to do in the first couple episodes, but I'm eager to see how funny he can be on the sketches within the show and if he has enough range to pull off the drama outside of it.
One of the beauties of Studio 60's premise is the built-in forum for guest stars. Each episode of the fictitious Studio 60, like SNL, has a host. This sets up myriad possibilities for celebrities to play themselves on the show, which allows for any number of interesting and fun story lines. In the pilot, Sorkin stalwart Felicity Huffman was the host; Lauren Graham (from Gilmore Girls) will be appearing in a couple of upcoming episodes. Sorkin is a master at seamlessly integrating familiar faces into his shows (a la “The West Wing”) and is just another unique quality that sets Studio 60 above the pack.
Sorkin is known for his drama, but his dialogue is rife with smart, natural humor that is sparked, not by unbelievable situations, but by character and conflict. The difference between the humor on Studio 60 and that on sitcoms is that Studio 60 isn't filled with “jokes”. It's organic and moves the story along and never seems out of place. You will laugh while watching Studio 60. That's a guarantee.
A vast number of characters, even within the first two episodes, have already been pitted against each other in various, interesting ways. Sorkin, again, weaves the conflict through his huge cast with seemingly little effort and has set up a ridiculous amount of story options for the rest of the season. The key, of course, is the characters. Most writers are tentative to pile on conflict with there characters; they like them too much. Sorkin loves to torture his and the emotional product of this is exquisite. Tension and suspense comes out of nowhere to grab hold of the viewer, making Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip as riveting a show as you'll find on TV.
9.It Will Make Fun of TV
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is the perfect forum to satirize any and all aspects of the television industry. And don't think Sorkin will be afraid to capitalize on this. From the very first scene of the pilot, when then-show runner Wes Mendell interrupts a live broadcast to lambast his own network and TV as a whole, we know that Studio 60 will be pulling no punches. Stay tuned, controversy may be up ahead.
10.It's (Maybe) the Best Show on Television
Perhaps this is a little bold, but I can't remember the last time I've been so in love with a show immediately out of the gates. Typically, great television shows take some time to develop and hit their peak. If Studio 60 gets any better, we're in for something special. Even if it doesn't, it's special enough as is.
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