Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Studio 60: Tune in, intellectual snobs! Seriously!

Ah, Studio 60. I seems like just yesterday I was singing its praises, and calling it (only in my head, apparently, but still...) the best new show of the season. But that was a month ago, and now I have bestowed that honor on a slightly more worthy show (Heroes, if anyone's curious). I do still love Studio 60, though, and this week, Harriet did the best impression of Juliette Lewis EVER (like, wow), and Matthew Perry continued to endear himself to me by being extremely not Chandler, and by shattering a window with a baseball bat. And no one can deny that the show is extremely smart and well-made.

I think Aaron Sorkin has places to go with the characters he's written, and an incredibly deep pool of acting talent to work with. It's possible that Heroes is just a bad lead-in for Studio 60. After all the drama and excitement of last night's installment, Studio 60 came out swinging with...a plagiarized sketch. Except that in the end, it wasn't actually plagiarized. Not to say that was a bad plot, but the show definitely felt as slow as molasses compared to, you know, a cheerleader waking up during her own autopsy (for example).

As last night's Studio 60 explained, though, fans have reason to hope. Yes, despite lagging ratings and what I can only imagine is an insanely expensive cast, NBC will probably give Studio 60 a little longer to build a following than, say, CBS gave Smith. Why? Alpha viewers. Christine Lahti (whom I will always, always remember as the woman who was in the bathroom when she won a Golden Globe) guest-starred last night as a reporter who wants to write a behind-the-scenes article for Vanity Fair. Although Matt and Danny are initially reluctant to grant her such unfettered access, they realize that her magazine's readership is composed of "alpha viewers," those influential, educated taste-makers and product-buyers that advertisers drool over. These magical alpha viewers are worth their weight in gold when advertising dollars are concerned. Or, more accurately, they're worth the weight of five normal viewers.

As The Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes pointed out in a chat this past Friday, these alpha viewers are exactly the people who make up Studio 60's shrinking audience:

NBC is already resorting to talking about the audience comp on this show -- how upscale (aka educated, wealthy)the show's ever shrinking the audience is -- down to 9 million viewers this week. It's true, some advertisers will pay to be on a show that's getting a smaller number if the audience comp is good. It's this show's only hope....

Indeed, here's hoping those New Yorker-reading, Prius-driving, commedia dell'arte joke-getting liberal elite (ah, stereotypes) keep tuning in. Because while Studio 60 is struggling right now to fulfill its astronomical expectations and find its voice, I think it's an extremely good show already, and has the potential to be a great show. So give it a chance, NBC!


Matt said...

I agree with you, for the most part (except for Heroes being the best new show of the season). Studio 60 is still good, but not as great as its pilot. It couldn't hurt to get out of the studio and explore other aspects of the characters' lives.

Lori said...

I still mostly enjoy Studio 60, but I'd like to see them ease up on the Matt/Harriet relationship. Yes, they're still in love, but do you really need to get that across in every scene?

And the ending was a total cop-out. The sketch belonged to them all along? Weak, Sorkin! Weak!

Liz said...

To be fair, I haven't watched all the new shows this season. Which do you think is best?

I think getting out of the studio is a great idea...something to bring back the fresher feeling of the pilot.

And yeah, Lori, the Matt/Harriet relationship is hammered a bit too much, but I really like both of the characters, so I'm at least happy they're getting lots of screen time as opposed to other, more disappointing characters (WHITFORD).