Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Studio 60 test

I'm still watching Studio 60. Yes, I know it's awful. But I can't seem to stop. I think I'm watching it now specifically to get angry at it. Which is perverse, but it's not like I've never done that before. I did the same thing with 7th Heaven for about a season and a half. Watching terrible TV for the joy of complaining about it afterward. That's sad. Hi, I'm Tom!

I need to stop doing this to myself. I'm sure all this rage at my TV is bad for my heart, as well as the assorted knickknacks I keep hurling against the wall (those Lladros smash real pretty, but it's getting to be prohibitively expensive). Yet I still come back for more. I think, in the back of my mind, I keep secretly convincing myself that, because a show has all the ingredients for being good -- many actors I like, a rich premise and interesting setting, scripts written by someone known for his sharp, funny dialogue -- the show itself must be good. And it's not. It's really, really not.

So I'm going to try something here. I'm going to write the numbers 1 through 10 below. Then I'm going to go in the other room and watch the most recent episode of Studio 60. Every time I get mad enough to pause the show in order to preserve my sanity, or to throw something, I'm going to come back in here and write about it. If I get all the way up to #10, I'm going to stop watching the show, no matter how far I am into it, and I'm going to delete it from the TiVo. I'm hoping this will either break me of the habit of watching the show, or, at the very least, give me a blog post which makes the watching slightly more worthwhile.

1. 0:16. Wow, made it all the way up to the 16 minute mark before getting too irritated to continue. Probably because most of the top of the show involved Steven Weber's Jack, and Jack is my favorite character. Mainly because he seems to hold the other characters in as much contempt as I do. And the stuff with Matt bidding for a date online with Harriet, while spurning her for a date in real life: though insanely stupid and obnoxious, I was able to get through it because I was already exposed to it last episode. But this nonsense between Darius and Simon is escalating in an ugly way. Simon apparently is determined to crush and control Darius, using the excuse that as the only black men on the show, they have to stick together. So, in the name of brotherhood, Simon is trying to dominate Darius through abuse and intimidation (at this particular juncture, by slipping Darius some racist hate mail in the guise of fan mail). Real nice. And the way Matt relishes Simon's presumable eventual victory over Darius is also distasteful in the extreme. Damn, Simon, maybe Darius didn't want to write your sketch about a militant new Fruit of the Loom fruit because it's stupid. But since every sketch on this show is stupid, I guess that can't be it.

2. 0:20. Immediately after the commercial break, we have Harriet and guest star Masi Oka filming Heroes-themed promos for the fictional Studio 60. Pretty much everything about Harriet annoys me; I think she's the worst character on the show, an alleged brilliant actress and genius comedienne who has yet to show even a glimmer of talent. Here, she can't get through an unfunny promo ("Save me, save the world") without cracking up for no reason and ruining it, and she does her "Dolphin Girl" voice again, which has the director and crew in stitches, but which is so far from being funny it would need to take two buses and a taxi to get there. I do enjoy, though, the fact that Masi Oka, who's got half a season of a semi-popular sci-fi show to his credit, snottily informs Harriet that to play Anita Pallenberg (in the film role she's been signed on for), she will have to act, rather than do funny voices. BURN!! When the time-traveling guy from the superhero show thinks you're a shitty actress, that's hard to overlook. Also, when she does the Dolphin Girl thing:

Masi Oka: What the hell was that?
Harriet: Dolphin Girl. Funny new voice.
Masi Oka [completely disbelieving]: Really.
That's awesome.

3. 0:23. Tom's lying to Lucy about why he has to break their date. It's so lame, so Three's Company, complete with the traditional repeating of a question (Lucy: "What happened?" Tom: "What happened?") before inventing an outrageously transparent and unnecessary lie to that question. And gee, I wonder if it will all blow up in his face? I also wonder if the sun will rise tomorrow.

4. 0:27. Okay, this commercial parody: "Dora's Hammer of the Gods" for Playstation 3? What the hell is this even about? I can't even understand the supposed humor here. Is "Dora" supposed to be Dora the Explorer? Is "Hammer of the Gods" supposed to be a reference to this video game from 1994? Or a reference to Led Zeppelin? Or just some generic menacing-sounding term that's inappropriately paired with Dora the Explorer (if it is Dora the Explorer)? And what do the poisonous snakes have to do with anything? This doesn't make a lick of sense. But, as the show will surely have you believe, somehow it's brilliant! And I don't even want to get started on the whole missing snake bit, which sounds like the set-up for another Three's Company-level prank.

5. 0:36. Matt, to Danny, re: Jordan: "You know you don't have anything to apologize for." Danny: "Yeah." No, nothing at all. Aside from the stalking! Asstard.

6. 0:38. Aaaannnd Danny and Jordan get stuck on the roof. Three's Company! I have to assume they're on the roof only because the set didn't have an elevator for them to get stuck in. Or a walk-in cooler. This is pathetic. Next week, Mrs. Roper is going to overhear Chrissie talking about removing a wart and think Chrissie is having an abortion. (Actual Three's Company episode, by the way.)

7. 0:41. One of the most obnoxious habits of Aaron Sorkin's writing is to have all his characters know insanely obscure trivia details that no one would know in real life. Right here, Matt meets his online auction competitor, "Lukes5858," and when the kid mentions his screen name is Star Wars-based, Matt immediately knows this is because George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch is at... 5858 Lucas Valley Road. Why? Why? Why would he have that knowledge? Even if he's been to Skywalker Ranch, there's no reason for him to have the address photographically memorized like that. I'm sure there are big Star Wars fans reading this. Did you know that address? Even worse is when Sorkin contrasts impossible knowledge with impossible non-knowledge -- when smart characters don't know something smart people should know. My favorite example is from The West Wing, when nobody in the White House had ever heard of the animal, the lynx.

8. 0:42. Neither Danny nor Jordan can get cell phone reception on top of a building in Los Angeles. WHY ARE YOU SO STUPID, SCRIPT?? STOP BEING SO STUPID!!

9. 0:53. We're supposed to believe the promo with two seconds of Harriet's stupid Dolphin Girl voice has become an internet sensation?? How stupid does Aaron Sorkin think everyone on the internet is? (Oh, yeah: very stupid.)

10. 0:56. TO BE CONTINUED?? God DAMN it. This lame-ass episode, with the snake in a drain and the dopes on a roof and the slutty Juilliard girl and whatnot is deserving of a part two? Why must the torture be stretched out like this?!?

And there we go. I was probably being generous, spacing things out so that I got to #10 right at the end of the show. But that's all right. You know, I think it actually helped me, to write this post, and get everything out of my system. That should last all the way until the next episode. Which is tomorrow.

Right now, I understand there's a football game about to start. Have you heard? I was thinking of checking it out if I don't have anything better to do.

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