Monday, May 18, 2009

LIVE! from Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip!

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

missed a week, I know. I was on vacation with limited internet.

I know a lot of people who were big fans of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I had classmates who watched it, my husband loved it, and my department chair was also really into it. Yet, it lasted all of 22 episodes before getting the can. And this was only 2006-2007, not long ago at all.

The star was Matthew Perry, of Friends fame. It depicted a show (with the same name as the series) that was very Saturday Night Live in design. Aaron Sorkin (West Wing, The American President, A Few Good Men) was the executive producer. All sounds good, right? Well, it had great ratings to start off (it even won a "best new show" award for its pilot!), but the audience (mostly upscale and college-educated, actually) fell as the season wore on. What hurt it more, though, was the unemployed comedy writers using blogs to blaspheme the show. "It could never happen," "people in television aren't that smart," "you're glorifying shows like that." Entertainment Weekly voted it the WORST TV SHOW of 2006. Yet, it was nominated for 5 Emmy Awards. It was put on hiatus, then just aired the remaining episodes of the first season. And that was it. Personally, I think the format of the show might have been the problem... perhaps it was suited for a 30-minute timeslot, not a 60. But I guess I could also see how that would be difficult...

Studio 60 was most certainly character-driven, as each actor was portraying several different identities (to correspond with the roles with the show, the personalities themselves, and the characters off-set). There were three main "comic actors" on the show-within-the-show. There was the recovering drug addict. There was a devout Christian. There was the "re-hired after we fired someone else" guy. There were hit-and-miss relationships. But what they do is have incredibly quick-witted jokes, and some great actors with a following. They pretty much epitomize the idea of "be funny, but don't make him laugh."

And it's true. The sketches were funny, often based on politics or Hollywood. There was a lot of conservative issues early on, as the show was to have debuted in the aftermath of 9/11, when anything remotely anti-American was frowned upon greatly. Between that mess and the "Crazy Christian" skit that they love to run, the show really rebelled against the lines of investors and advertisers, performing instead for the consumers (the audience in this case).

Here's a promo from the show. Pretty much every episode is available between YouTube and Hulu, so get out and watch some!
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