Do or Do Not.

Celebrating Sorkinalia!

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One last bit of Sorkiniana, then I’m done with talking about him for a bit:

I think the best part of last night’s series finale of The West Wing was the one-minute preview for Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, the new Aaron Sorkin series airing on NBC this fall, which showed up in the middle of the broadcast. [1] That show is, for me the Superman Returns of the fall TV season, — both because it’s Sorkin’s return to series television and because of the tremendous anticipation I’ve got building up for it. Just Sorkin’s involvement alone would have been enough to get me to watch, really, but finding out that the cast included the underrated Matthew Perry and Steven Weber and the scrumptious Amanda Peet jacked up my internal buzz even more.

And then they showed that preview last night… and holy schnikies, I hadn’t heard that Bradley Friggin’ Whitford, my favorite WW actor, is gonna be on it, too. I had been thinking to myself just a few minutes before the preview, “Man, I really hope Whitford gets to do something good after this show’s done, ’cause he’s too good not to be on a quality show somewhere.” I’ve got a hunch he’s probably not going to get more quality than Studio 60.

Apparently, the script for the Studio 60 pilot has been floating around the Internet for awhile; part of me’s tempted to hunt it down and read it, but the bigger part of me wants to be surprised when I see the show in September. Warren Ellis has read it, and had this to say about it in his “Bad Signal” email newsletter this morning:

Read a draft of Aaron Sorkin’s forthcoming Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip last night. Nearly gave up writing. I want to break that bastard’s hands, I really do.

Ellis is a pretty damn fine writer himself, so that script’s gotta be something else for him to throw that kind of praise (if you can call wanting to cripple the man “praise”) Sorkin’s way.

I’m hoping at this point that NBC will have a better handle on how to market and manage Studio 60 than ABC did with SportsNight, Sorkin’s last backstage look at a TV show. SportsNight and The West Wing had a very similar vibe to them — neither was strictly a comedy or a drama, but fluidly melded elements of each. ABC had no idea how to handle SportsNight since it looked like a sitcom and was only thirty minutes long… but had moments of seriousness as affecting as any traditional hour-long drama. NBC had an easier time with The West Wing, since we viewers tend to accept chunks of comedy chocolate in our peanut butter drama more easily than the other way around. I can’t be sure just yet, but I’d imagine Studio 60 will steer overall more closely to the comedy (especially given that it’s a behind-the-scenes look at a comedy show), but with Sorkin wrting, it’s guaranteed to have healthy doses of both.

Early indications are that NBC’s doing right by Sorkin with their scheduling: right now it looks like the show’s going to air on Thursday nights at 9 p.m. Eastern, after My Name Is Earl and The Office, the two best comedies NBC’s got right now. That’s going to make for the best block of programming the network’s had on its supposed “Must See TV” night in years, and ensures I’m going to be watching (or recording, anyway) on Thursdays. Bridging the absurdity of The Office and the perpetual torment of ER seems like it’ll be a perfect job for Studio 60.

I’m proposing, thanks to some inspriation from Terry, a new holiday to be observed sometime this September or October. I can’t give you the precise date just yet, but on whatever night it is that the first episode of Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip premieres, we here at Do or Do Not will be celebrating Sorkinalia, an evening full of fast-paced, witty banter (spoken while walking quickly around the house), sexual tension and passionate, inspiring monologues. And there will be chips. And maybe ice cream.

[1] NBC clearly knows the West Wing audience pretty well — and wants to make sure the affluent WW demographic follows to Studio 60.

Written by Allen

May 15th, 2006 at 9:38 pm

Posted in TV

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  1. [...] Monday night, for those of you haven’t heard, is Sorkinalia (a.k.a. the debut of Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip). I doubt it’s much of a secret that I’ve been looking forward to this holiday for more than a year. But unlike the ridiculous amounts of anticipation I built up for Superman Returns, my expecations for Studio 60 are a tad more reasonable. It doesn’t have to be the best TV show I’ve ever seen; it only has to be better than most TV shows. Given that Sorkin’s behind it, I think that’s a reasonably safe expecation for me to harbor. I encourage every single one of you out there to watch it Monday night at 9 EST on NBC; I hope to be posting my thoughts about it on Tuesday. [...]

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