Just a note of thanks to NBC for once again pulling Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip from Monday night’s schedule, thereby freeing me to watch Family Guy reruns on TBS. Aaron Sorkin’s original concept — a behind-the-scenes look at what purportedly goes on in the production of a weekly live comedy show Ã la Saturday Night Live — quickly revealed that, as interesting as it might have sounded, and despite how good the first episode was, perhaps there really isn’t that much of interest going on backstage to support 26 one-hour episodes (or whatever constitutes a season these days). Alas, it appears that the grind of putting together a TV comedy show week after week, with the clock on the wall counting down from 168 hours to zero again and again, is exactly that: a grind.
So the show went on hiatus for a little bit of retooling and, when it returned, had been reduced to an occasionally funny but overall pretty boring romantic comedy with all of the TV production stuff taking a decidedly backseat. On the positive side, it made those early episodes look much better in retrospect; the bad thing was that the show had become a colossal bore. By downplaying the let’s-put-on-a-TV-show aspect, Studio 60 lost what made it potentially fascinating in the first place. Rather than concentrating on the love lives of characters who are not as funny or cute or, especially, interesting as Sorkin thinks they are, he should have found a way to refocus his original premise. Who knows what form the the series will take when it reincarnates — if it does at all. Hopefully, three will indeed be a charm.
Last time Sorkin tried this (what goes on behind the curtain of a TV show) — the amusing and witty Sports Night — it worked; this time, it doesn’t. For now, if I want funny and smart, I’ll stick with Brian and Stewie.