Red Right Hand: PILOT (P)REVIEW: STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP
*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.

 

PILOT (P)REVIEW: STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP

Disclaimer: I worship at the altar of Sorkin and cannot be counted upon for objectivity.

Blessed Betty and Veronica, yes!

This is The Sorkin. He brings it as only he can bring it. I'm not even going to get into too much detail because if you are a fan of quality television or a writer of any kind, you're going to want to watch this when it airs. If not, turn in your card. Whichever card you've got. Go out and get a card, then turn it in.

Obviously, I follow television in great detail. I know how to read the Nielsens. I read Hollywood Reporter everyday (thanks to their .pdf version). I track pilot development as best I can, de dit de dit de dah, but parts of the pilot made me sit up and think "that's really inside." As far as I know, I got it all, but how's it gonna play in flyover? It's not stuff you need to understand for the most part. You don't need to be a political junkie to follow The West Wing and that went for seven years. the stuff you need to know will get explained, just hang in there. My concern is that it's so inside Hollywood. How is that exactly going to play? Hopefully quality writing and an ridiculously awesome cast will handle that.

Matthew Perry is great, but I think he's proven that already (not just in that one show). Bradley Whitford shakes off Josh Lyman nicely (and I think there's some autobiographical bits of Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme in there). Amanda Peet is beautiful and perfect in her character's confidence. I just dig Timothy Busfield. Always have. Sarah Paulson perfectly embodies Harriet's dichotomous nature. Just, really, a great cast.



Now, being that it's Sorkin, the show has it's political bent. Sports Night had it and so does Studio 60. At first glance the show seems like Sorkin's second chance at Sports Night, but without all the sitcom trappings. Dispensing with the need for three jokes a page. It isn't that second chance, though, this is a whole new animal in...well, in seven different ways. You'll see.

The main political bent in the pilot (or social commentary bent I guess is more accurate) is going to be taken as anti-religion (ironically by the people who are exactly the target of it), but what it really is...is anti-religious bigot and anti-religious-based censorship. The thing though is that Harriet Hayes (the Sarah Paulson character) is a deeply religious Christian. That's going to be interesting.

Something I noticed when I read the script a few months ago (when it was still Studio 7) and still something that's here is that the show didn't have one real kickass moment. Sorkin really set himself up with that "I am the Lord, your God" moment in the West Wing pilot.

Or maybe it does have that kickass moment, but the thing is it happens in the first five minutes rather than the last and it belongs to a character who is done with the show in the second five minutes.

Two words. Paddy Chayefsky. Again, you'll see.

The Sorkin voice is still there. It's different, of course, but it's there.

It's good to have such high expectations so well met.

I've wasted no time putting this in the sidebar's Currently Digging.

And I've watched it at least 12 times as of this writing.
©2016 Michael Patrick Sullivan