Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Monday, October 02, 2006

In about an hour I'll probably turn on the new Aaron Sorkin show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, even though last week I said I was through, because I happened to look at the TV listings after dinner tonight, notice it was on, and my heart leapt up in the hope that was born of Sorkin's witty dialogue & slick melodrama on The West Wing, even though the new show is infinitely trivial and self-regarding in comparison -- I mean, the fate of the world hinged on the wits & smarts & guts of Martin Sheen & Co. on the last show, while in this one it's the fate of a (-n accidentally self-referentially overhyped) sketch comedy-variety show -- I mean, last week, the episode was all about finding a killer opening for the show-within-the-show, and then they showed the opening, and the fictional television studio audience was in raptures, but it wasn't killer, it was at-best clever and might have been actually more-or-less delightful if the execution had been sharper, but it was too slow -- a parody of Gilbert & Sullivan's "I am the very model of a modern major general," which my high school choir sang faster and funnier in Tom Lehrer's parody version, "The Elements" (and thanks for the lyrics):

There's antimony, arsenic, aluminum, selenium,
And hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and rhenium
And nickel, neodymium, neptunium, germanium,
And iron, americium, ruthenium, uranium,
Europium, zirconium, lutetium, vanadium
And lanthanum and osmium and astatine and radium
And gold, protactinium and indium and gallium [inhale]
And iodine and thorium and thulium and thallium.

There's yttrium, ytterbium, actinium, rubidium
And boron, gadolinium, niobium, iridium
And strontium and silicon and silver and samarium,
And bismuth, bromine, lithium, beryllium and barium . . .

and it occurred to me that as sharp as writer-impresario Aaron Sorkin's dialogue can be, the classic screwball writers mainly worked with writing partners, and it worked better, such as for Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur (pictured), who wrote The Front Page, which became His Girl Friday. I hear there have been so good shows on cable in recent years, but I haven't lived with cable since I left my parents' home, except for that brief time 12 years ago or so when a roommate got it to watch the NCAA basketball tournament.

Midnight update:
I watched it. It was funnier than last week; the Tom Cruise-as-religious-fundamentalist-wingnut sketch was amusing, and guest star Rob Reiner (playing guest star Rob Reiner in the show-within-the-show) was funny. The closing montage made it clear that the show will be the love story of Matt & Danny -- I should have gotten this already. It's kind of sweet. I'll watch it again.

I'm with you on Studio 60. I've been watching, and it's fun but it's no early WW. Hard not to feel like "what are Josh and Chandler doing hanging out together on the set of Saturday Night Live?"

I like Amanda Peet, though. I think Perry's character is going to be pretty interesting too. The cast is kind of like the all-star team of good television, there are so many familiar faces from other shows that were well regarded (like the bald guy from Sex in the City).

But the show I'm really enjoying is the one before Studio 60: "Heroes." Can't wait to see where that goes.

I'm liking the characters too -- some of them anyway. Not liking the actors much. I like the chairman.

Josh & Chandler -- yup. Course, I always like thinking of Martin Sheen's character on Josh's old show as President Willard.
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