Once upon a time there was a tv show called "SportsNight". It was the first tv show written by this guy named Aaron Sorkin - who wrote some little projects like "A Few Good Men" and "The American President". I think to this day it is one of my favorite shows of all time. I was always sad when an episode ended - not because of the show, but because 30 minutes was never enough. For those of you that didn't watch it (probably most), it was a show about the staff of a nightly sportscast program like 'SportsCenter' similar in vein to the movie "Broadcast News" was to a news show.
SportsNight was probably doomed to fail from the beginning. It wasn't a sports show, but the title led you to believe it was. ABC was never able to explain that in their marketing, despite their attempts to do so. It was a sit-com, but didn't feel like one. It was too smart and too serious - or so they say. ABC forced it to have a laugh track so people would understand it was a sit-com. It didn't fit. They kept moving it around on the schedule, never finding a home for it. And while its creator got sidetracked with another new little project called "The West Wing", SportsNight suffered and died a slow death.
I didn't want to like "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." Probably because NBC was using its typical overdone, overwrought heavy handed promotion that never ends up being true. Although I knew little about the show, the promos made me want to see it fail. But then I saw the show. Within minutes I was drawn in to the point that I had to stop what I was doing and just watch. It is classic Aaron Sorkin, from the speed of the edits to the style of the dialogue to the wry and subtle expressions that can turn a scene. It didn't let me go, and I'm hungry for the next episode.
Maybe I'm in a minority here. Studio 60 had a significant ratings drop from the show before it; and even more telling, the drop off of the second half hour from the first was just as significant. Its one thing if people didn't stay for the beginning of the show - its another one if they leave during it. Hopefully the show will stay at the level of quality that the premiere showed and not drift away like The West Wing. And hopefully it will find enough of an audience for NBC to stick with more than one season (if that).
Set your tivo.
(by the way, episodes of Studio 60 repeat on Bravo, Wednesdays at 11pm)