Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote an article about the demise of Studio 60 and voiced several common speculations on why the show didn’t make it. I felt the need to answer a few of these here.
“It was a drama about a comedy show, but the skits weren’t funny. In fact, much of the show was decidedly unfunny.”
As a general rule, I refuse to watch a television show if it isn’t funny; this doesn’t mean it has to be a comedy, but clever dialogue is a must. This show was a treasure-mine for witty dialogue that only Woody Allen in his prime could best.
As for the skits, “Science Schmience”, “Jesus as the Head of Standards and Practices”, and the parody of “To Catch a Predator” with Santa Clause were all excellent, but that’s not the point. Any real sketch comedy show has its attractors and detractors, and Sorkin was naive to think he would be able to produce a sketch which would be found universally funny. As such is the case, he should have refrained from showing finished sketches whenever possible as it is irrelevant to the show. The sketches were shown less frequently as the show progressed, but by then ratings were already dismal.
“The cast was a bad fit. Aside from Matthew Perry (who was a wonderful surprise) and Timothy Busfield (who was underused), not much else worked.”
My counter-argument for this is a blank stare. I can’t argue that I would like to have seen more of the excellent Timothy Busfield as Cal, but aside from that all I can do is disagree.
“Almost every story line was a dud …”
This is the only part he got right, assuming “dud” means “vector for excellence”.
“Who’s the rooting interest here? Ultimately, it was hard to care. Those who tried to care were Sorkin loyalists, and even they were dropping off at the end. Those who didn’t care at all opted for “Heroes” or something else.”
I originally had an aversion to the show because I saw Sorkin as trendy and pretentious; it was simply the premise of being back stage at an SNL-like show that hooked me. The premise for “Studio 60” is something that Sorkin probably knows quite a bit about, while The West Wing which seemed more like a way for liberals to feel good about themselves than an hour of entertainment.
As for Heroes, I feel that’s what President of the fictional network NBS Jordan McDeere was referring to when she told her boss Jack Rudolph “I’ve already got a dual masturbation show in active development”.
I don’t pretend to understand how television shows succeed, but I still haven’t spoken to anyone who watched Studio 60 and didn’t find it to be excellent. I suppose all I can do at this point is buy Sorkin’s Sports Night and wait for the remaining Studio 60 episodes to be released to dvd.