So, I just watched what is being hailed as one of the best shows of the new TV Season, Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, the new drama from The West Wing's Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme. The show has been the critics darling and the buzz has been immense, mainly due to Sorkin's presence and the strong cast including Friend's Matt Perry, West Wing's Bradley Whitford & Timothy Busfield, and Wing's Steven Weber..,
Well the show is not the transcendental experience some may be expecting, but it is a very good show.
On the plus side, the writing is dead on, natch. And almost to a T, the cast is great. Perry and Whitford are the leads and as expected, Whitford is great, but Perry is quite equal, and the two (a writer/director team) play off each other extremely well. Busfield, as usual, pretty much is a spear carrier, but they're some important spears, and given him and Sorkin's history, he'll be treated just fine on the show. Weber plays the heavy, and pulls it off with. The rest of the stars form "The Big 3", the main actors on the SNL type show,: DL Hughley, Sarah Paulson and Nathan Corddry, They get only a little play in the pilot, though each has some good bits, and Hughley in particular has a scene that makes me look forward to learning more about his character.
The cameos/possible reoccurring characters are also filled by some big names that really help ground the show in the TV reality. Numb3rs & Taxi's Judd Hirsch as a producer, Lou Grant'sEd Asner as the owner of the media conglomerate that owns the network, and Felicity Huffman as ..well..Felicity Huffman, the show's guest host. (I was surprised to see Sorkin shooting his Huffman load so early. She and William H. Macy are two of his go-to-actors, though using her to celebrate her deserved stardom (after she was denied with Sport's Night).).
However, the show isn't perfect. It's still a Sorkin written show, and that entails the good and the bad. Folks can get a bit preachy, telling speeches more than just talking. And (one of his things that really bugs me) a tendency that if one person hears a joke, EVERYONE on the show has heard it, and comments on it, to make it a running gag. It's a stylistic thing, but I don't care for it.
The real negative point for the show is that it isn't a show with 2 leads in Whitford and Perry, but instead, there's three leads, including Amanda Peet. She plays the new president of the network. She just really lacks the gravitas the role calls for. She's playing a very typical Sorkin character..underestimated by everyone (the companies stock tumbled when she was hired) however her resume and past accomplishments would make her one of the greatest executives in TV history. I certainly buy her as someone who'd make Wall Street nervous, but not as the ball buster/wonderkid she's also supposed to be. And when facing off against Weber or Whitford, she really doesn't hold up her side of the screen.
Still, despite Peet not delivering a performance equal to her colleagues, the show is quite good. I'm not sure when it premieres, and quite when it's going to be on during the week, but it's definitely worth finding it on the dial.