Give Aaron Sorkin His Drugs Back

Few people, I’m sure, were as excited as I was about the announcement last April that Aaron Sorkin was going to have a new TV show in the 2006-7 season. I blogged about setting my Tivo to record it six months before the show aired. But after watching this last episode (“Monday”) of Studio 60, preceded as it was by a string of incredibly uneven episodes, I’m throwing in the towel. I simply can’t watch anymore. It’s like visiting a hospice where talent lays dying every week.

This show is such a disaster that makes me have to re-think whether the previous Sorkin shows I loved so much–the early seasons of The West Wing and my dear, cherished Sports Night–were really as good as I thought they were. (For Sports Night, yes. Especially season 1. For West Wing…the jury’s still out.)

Studio 60 seems to have it all: a pretty cushy time slot with a buzz show (Heroes) leading in to it. Plenty of promos from the network. A rapid fan base generating buzz early. A cast that most producers would sacrifice their aged mothers for. Guest stars! Sting playing a lute! But all this is thrown out the window by the wildly varying tone, under- or over-written character development, and the utter improbability of pretty much every situation. I’ve watched episodes of 24 where I have to suspend my disbelief less. The comedy is flat, the drama shrill and preachy, the sexual tension weird and creepy when it’s not cold and lifeless. Is it a comedy? Then why do the sketches all suck? Is it a drama? Set at a comedy show? Why? Are we supposed to care about millionaires who have to put on a show once a week? What the hell went wrong?

Then I remembered: Sorkin’s now clean and sober. That’s what’s different from the earlier shows! I say, get this man a speedball, stat! As much as I can appreciate the nobleness of his sobriety, man do I miss the art he seemed to be able to create while seriously high. I’m afraid we have to score some blow, euthanize Studio 60, and start over. The guy who wrote this bit of Sports Night dialogue, “Sometimes it’s worth it, taking all those pies in the face. And some days you just stand there, waist deep in pie” deserves as much and should understand. Right now, he’s waist deep in pie.

7 thoughts on “Give Aaron Sorkin His Drugs Back

  1. I’m in the exact same boat as you. “Monday” was painful. I’m not sure I can continue watching this…
    I spent all this time watching Studio 60–over Christmas I realized I should’ve been watching Heroes! I love it!

  2. Working with interaction design I stumbled upon your blog only yesterday (even though I have actually read your book). But this post will definitively put your blog on the top of my list.
    I really liked Sports Night and West Wing and had such high hopes for Studio 60. But Studio 60 or not, the earlier shows are really THAT good I think. Just watch them again (and again) and you’ll see… 🙂

  3. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been trying to put my finger on what’s wrong with the show as well. I came to the conclusion that the business of hollywood just isn’t all that interesting. Censors and political correctness lack appeal and is just too reminiscent of actual work to be the least bit entertaining.
    I’m about ready to pull the plug as well.

  4. yep, same here. i actually just watched tonite my tivo’d episode of “Monday” and i was so bored 10 minutes into it i just let it run as background noise while working on a client UI project! ha.
    you’re right on about the schizo ambiguity of comedy or drama or what. i had really hoped it would be West Wing for Hollywood but nope. 30 Rock is way better at spoofing the SNL thing (hand it to Tina Fey, one smart writer, kudos to her).
    sadly, gotta cross Studio 60 off my list. one less show to waste valuable DVR space earmarked for Heroes, 24, and Grey’s. (Lost is a goner too…boo to ABC to making fatal mistake of taking show on hiatus mid-season). Fear? Trust? Betrayal? more like Apathy and Boredom… (ok, i’m veering off topic 🙂

  5. I call this the “Clapton Syndrome” since Eric Clapton’s music was my first encounter with the dangers of sobriety. Somewhere between lying in a pool of vomit and teatotaller is a happy medium. I hope Sorkin finds it.

  6. I completely agree. Sports Night was genius and I still miss it. West Wing was going during the Sorkin’s mushroom years, then I lost interest. I was so looking forward to stuido 60. The first couple of episodes were good, and then it became hit or miss.
    I expects so much out of “Monday” as I figured it was a reboot, as the show was almost cancelled earlier this year. I figured after the few weeks off they would maybe tweak it and make it better. Well Monday I was completely overwhelmed. I love the cast, Perry, Whitford, and Peet can do no wrong, but last week was as painful as dental surgery. As I type this it is 10 minutes until the enxt episode, and I am seriously contemplating watching CSI Miami instead. I think this will be the last and only season of studio 60.

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