In defense of the worst, part one

I recently saw a listing of the worst TV shows released in the past decade. Some of them, like According to Jim and Kath and Kim, rightfully belong in the top five (I still can’t believe that According to Jim was on the air for several seasons!  Maybe these two should be a lesson to not name the sitcom after the main character?).

I took issue with one of the ‘winners’ in particular: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.  Granted, it wasn’t Aaron Sorkin’s brightest shining moment.  And yes, it was obvious from the character of Harriet Hayes that he was bitter about his then-recent breakup to noted Christian Kristin Chenoweth.  But there were some parts of the show that were outstandingly brilliant, and I think it deserves to be recognized as such.  It came on the air the same time that 30 Rock debuted, and as an hour-long drama instead of a half hour sitcom it was the runner up in the on-air battle.  Yanked before it’s episodes finished running, the set was destroyed before the final episodes aired. Thanks to DVDs, however, I am able to watch it in its entirety about twice a year.

Admittedly, I felt like it was overkill with the ‘you’re going to hell and I’m not just because I was baptized and you are a heathen’.  But correct me if I’m wrong, isn’t premarital sex, monogomy, and blasphemy outlawed by the Bible as well?  In which case, said character would be going to hell also, correct?

That aside, however, it was a remarkable use of an amazing cast.  Matthew Perry shines in a drama, frequent Sorkin/Schlamme favorites Bradley Whitford and Tim Busfield are dead on in their portrayals, DL Hughley was able to make the switch to dramatic actor easily, Stephen Webber is incredible in whatever he does, Amanda Peet proved herself as a worthy lead, and Sarah Paulson (despite the stereotypes) did an awesome job.  It was also an early introduction to Simon Helberg who played Alex Dwyer, a secondary character.  His flair for comedy was a precursor to what would be incredible roles as  Moist in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and Simon Wolowitz in The Big Bang Theory.

There were trademark Sorkin moments–long dialogues, sharp and witty banter, and the infamous walk-and-talk.  The show wasn’t afraid to make fun of itself while simultaneously making fun of others, and it’s frank and often brutal assessment of the television industry, standards and practices, and outside influences was a refreshing change.

There were amazing moments of comedic brevity, touching moments of heartfelt emotion, and most of all there was the desire for more.  While some may put it on the worst of the decade, I, for one, will be mourning its short tenure.  While it’s true that a second season may have diminished the love, it very much will be one for which I will have a fondness in my heart.

That being said, I leave you with words from the second episode, “The Cold Open” sung to the tune of “Major General” from The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert & Sullivan:

We’ll be the very model of a modern network TV show
Each time that we walk into this august and famous studio
We’re starting out from scratch after a run of twenty years and so
We hope that you don’t mind that our producer was caught doing blow
Choir:
They hope that you don’t mind that their producer was caught doing blow

They hope that you don’t mind that their producer was caught doing blow
They hope that you don’t mind that their producer was caught doing mounds and mounds of blow
Yes it’s hard to be a player when at heart you’ve always had a hunch
To bite the hand that feeds you is a scary way of doing lunch

But still when we walk in to this august and famous studio
We’ll be the very model of a modern network TV show
Choir:
But still when they walk into this august and famous studio

They’ll be the very model of a modern network TV show
I am a Christian tried and true baptized at age eleven
So unlike the liberals, gays, and Jews I’m going straight to heaven

But if you feel you’ve been cheated and our sordid content lets you down
We’ll happily do the favor of an intellectual reach around
Choir:
They’ll happily do the favor of an intellectual reach around
They’ll happily do the favor of an intellectual reach around
They’ll happily do the favor of a hundred dollar hooker’s reach around
[Harriett:
(That wasn’t the same thing we said…)]
Choir corrects:
They’ll happily do the favor of a verbal euphemistic reach around
We know the Evangelicals are lining up to tag our toe
And then the corporations will not hesitate to pull their dough
But still when we walk into this august and famous studio
We’ll be the very model of a modern network TV show
Choir:
But still when they walk into this august and famous studio
They’ll be the very model of a modern network TV show
But still when they walk into this august and famous studio
They’ll be the very model of a modern network TV show
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s