So Long STUDIO 60

Yesterday, the few remaining fans of STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP took out an ad in the Hollywood Reporter ‘thanking’ STUDIO 60 as well encouraging donations to the Tipitina’s Foundation of New Orleans.

Encouraging donations to the Tipitina’s Foundation of New Orleans, most definitely worth the ad buy. But thanking STUDIO 60 for “intelligent, inspiring and compelling drama we’ll never forget,” well that my friends is a completely different story.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Aaron Sorkin and think he’s one of the most talented writers on the planet. Not only do SPORTS NIGHT and THE WEST WING both sit proudly on my DVD shelf, I quite literally never tire of THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT. But the unfortunate reality is that STUDIO 60 never lived up to the hype.

What started off as one of the most promising pilots in recent memory quickly devolved into a weekly Sorkin lecture on politics, religion, the war, censorship and pretty much anything else that Sorkin wanted to get off his chest. The show that should have been filled with snappy dialogue, fantastic characters and great writing essentially became that ‘very special’ episode of THE WEST WING where the cast dealt with the aftermath of 9/11. Which if you remember the episode, is not a good thing.

In the end, the thanks should really go to NBC. Not only did the network give Sorkin free reign to run a million dollar drama into the ground. It hopefully gave him enough airtime to articulate each and every one of his political views so that the next time he returns to television, he’ll remember that the medium should entertain first — educate second.

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  • Is there something wrong with “a weekly Sorkin lecture on politics, religion, the war, censorship and pretty much anything else that Sorkin wanted to get off his chest.” ?

    I happened to like Studio 60 very much and I’m sad to see it go. It had a lot of promise left in it.

    Who thought back in September that 30 Rock would be the show that survived?

  • Jake

    I happened to like Studio 60 throughout the entire season and I’m sad that it’s been canned. If it was given a chance, who knows, there could be improvements in the second season. The show does happen to have snappy dialogue and the chemistry between the cast members are great. I’m gonna miss Studio 60. Definitely getting my hands on the DVD set.

    HAHA. I thought 30 Rock was going to be the first one to get canned.

  • Jake,

    As much as I really wanted STUDIO 60 to get a second season, I don’t think Sorkin really knew what to do with the show. Was it a comedy? Was it a drama? Politics? It was a mash-up of everything Sorkin, and short of the pilot and the Christmas episode, which were both fantastic, the show never lived up to its potential.

    The cast was indeed great, and obviously the show was still better than a lot of what’s out there (hello? how did ACCORDING TO JIM get yet another season?) but all in all I think it was time for the show to go.

    Sorkin didn’t want to change the show, if anything, the last five part episode was a message to NBC, that it was Sorkin’s show and he’ll write about whatever he damn well pleases.

  • ewanspotter

    As much as I did like Stuido 60 (I’d turn it on just as background noise and always end up getting sucked into the episode) I was also getting tired of the “lecture on politics, religion, the war, censorship and pretty much anything else that Sorkin wanted to get off his chest.” Did I agree with some of it? Sure. Did I not agree with some of it? Yeah. It was a just a bit too much all around.

  • segsig

    I heartily disagree on your take of Studio 60’s problems and NBC. This television show will be a case study in network mismanagement in the near future. Nbc had the worst over-saturating marketing campaign ever created, “the stars are about to collide”. They continually (to this date) cut promos to make it look like a comedy. They put it on at 10PM on Mondays, when market research shows the only dramas to do well at 10PM are FORMULAIC; which is why it had better ratings in Central time (funny considering the red/blue supposed divide of the show). The audience has a ton of options to see it at other times, so of course they’re not going to see it at 10PM. It was the 2nd most DVR’d show of the year; it was consistently top ten on Itunes; and this doesn’t count Amazon or Rewind viewing. The show takes way too much energy and concentration to watch for the first time at 10PM, so noone does, but the fans are there in masses. Then nbc, when the show was getting bad publicity from basicly two sources, a rival network and a rival show it was kicking the ratings crap out of, bailed entirely.

    It can never be said the show was canceled because of ratings, these are the end of regular season numbers:
    61. Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip NBC 8.5 3.6/9
    61. Medium NBC 8.5 3.0/8
    83. The Black Donnellys NBC 6.7 2.7/7
    87. Scrubs NBC 6.4 3.2/8
    95. Friday Night Lights NBC 6.1 2.3/6
    102. The Real Wedding Crashers NBC 5.8 2.7/7
    102. 30 Rock NBC 5.8 2.7/7

    The early problems of complete ineptitude on the part of nbc killed this show and in trying to cover that fact they want the show to have a bad legacy. The grave mistake made by WB/Mr. Sorkin was in letting nbc bid against CBS.

  • In fairness to NBC they did have it scheduled for Thursdays at 9:00pm only to find out the next day ABC moved Grey’s into the same slot. Then they never found a spot for it. Not sure even a 9:00pm slot saves the show in retrospect though.

    I still stick with my original assessment after watching the pilot last July. I thought the pilot had a “special” feel to it and I absolutely loved the characters. BUT – He 100% got the characters right and the setting wrong. If you are going to do a show about a back door look at a comedy series then you make it a comedy with comedians. It took viewers two seconds to say… “this doesn’t remind me of SNL??” The players on SNL have always been a step above “fart jokes” and if you are going to a fictional show about a comedy series then you’d expect to see Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell types doing funny skits and acting like regular folks offstage. Not to say they don’t talk big issues behind the scenes but we have been trained to view comedians as funny people. Their comedians. They are making jokes, making prank calls etc etc….. Would you watch Will Ferrell straight faced talking about global warming?? doubtful….

    Not sure what they setting should have been…. Close your eyes and think of the exact same cast running a newspaper. People would have watched that because the characters and setting would have worked….

  • PS While I think S60s demise is more about the fact that the show paralleled real life. ( Sorkin didn’t want to “change” the show just as Matt didn’t want to give in on S60) I still think the ratings played a big deal in all of this. Had the show stayed above ten million Sorkin could have done whatever show he wanted. When the viewers started vanishing with each episode NBC said we need you to change the series. He didn’t want to change it and I say good for him.

    The shows on your list all SHOULD have been canceled if we are just talking #s… Well medium is the exception because it got jerked around a bit… but the rest of that list is full with ratings losers…

    FNL was “given” a second season because NBC didn’t want to PR nightmare of canceling the series. They did the next best thing by moving it to Fridays at 10pm. What they need to do is move it to the USA Network where it can draw and be under less pressure…

    30 Rock was picked up because for the first time in like 20 years NBC didn’t have a new comedy in development that was remotely funny..

    Scrubs… same reason as above…

  • Myke

    Hey, I really liked the Isaac and Ishmael episode of West Wing!

  • shanna

    I’ve only ever seen one episode of Studio 60 and I truly enjoyed it. Unfortunately, it was one of those things where TV-wise I already had a lot on my plate and very little time (even with DVR) to add something else. That’s not the case for next year but at this point I’m starting to hate how networks treat good shows so I’m not really excited about adding ANYTHING to my tv schedule (but that’s personal).

    Anyway, what I wanted to say is I don’t think it’s tv’s job to “entertain first – educate second”. I personally, think it should do so simultaneously. To thrown in a book for a change, if you read Al Gore’s “The Assault on Reason”, one of the reasons that American society continues to let ourselves be controlled by illogical decisions is because of the one-sided relationship of television. So I welcome anyone who challenges the current strictures of television. And clearly a lot of us are burning for something different as evidenced by the campaigns for various shows.

    So even though Studio 60 might not have gotten to a place where it was both educating and entertaining in tandem, at least it was educating.

  • Blair

    What has happened to our society that has made mindless comedy and reality shows filled with sleaze to be the only profitable television. Every time I turn on the TV these days not more than about 5 minutes goes by before I turn the stupid thing off, because there is no longer anything good. Studio 60 was an intelligent, thought provoking, and often very humorous show. So what if it wasn’t perfect, at least it’s not some slut crying because she isn’t getting along with the other contests and is afraid she is getting to be voted off the island or because the judge said something she didn’t want to hear. I myself am breathlessly waiting for Studio 60’s DVD release so that I can actually find something good to watch.

  • Adam

    I really liked Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I miss being able to tune into an intelligent show that will ‘learn me’ on relevant topics in an entertaining way. If The West Wing and Studio 60 are gone … so if my need for TV. Can anyone suggest a new, similar show?