Wow – I like this show a lot.
Here’s the funny part. I never would have seen it had it not been for Helaine, who set the DVR for herself. Last week it was just there. This week too.
I’ve told a few friends this is West Wing II. Maybe that’s unfair, because it’s obviously not a show about the White House, but a TV show.
The sensibilities are the same as West Wing. The edgy look, underlit and high contrast, matches West Wing too. Maybe that’s because, though the show is performed by an ensemble cast, all their words come from Aaron Sorkin, also responsible for West Wing.
You won’t immediately know the name of every significant cast member, but the faces are familiar. The biggest names are Bradley Whitford (West Wing), Matthew Perry (Friends) and Amanda Peet (gorgeous).
The premise is simple: a behind the scenes look at a weekly sketch comedy show, not unlike Saturday Night Live¹. There’s conflict with the network, the public, the cast. Conflict is good for television.
It’s possible I like this show for different reasons than you. I think Studio 60 is showing us a part of television that’s in the midst of disappearing – high budget, mass market, common experience TV.
I like that kind of television. I will mourn its loss.
Can Studio 60, the show within the show, exist when broadcasting has given way to niche-casting? Can a show that hires a symphonic orchestra and chorus get renewed as budgets tighten and audiences shrink?
Even Saturday Night Live, the last of its kind, has been forced to cut back this season. At least four of last year’s cast members were dropped to save cash.
I love television. I love these complex pieces of programming that come together, touched by dozens of hands. There’s an excitement when the control room sits a dozen or more tightly wound souls, concentrating deeply enough to discern each of the 29.97 individual frames that flash by every second.
It’s what I grew up watching. It was attractive enough to sucker me as an employee.
TV is becoming more of an individual effort. TV programs are more narrowly aimed. In some cases TV programs have eliminated he TV station entirely. They are laser like as they look for their specific, targeted audience.
I grew up in an era when each network was a fire hose and everyone got wet!
There are no more Ed Sullivans, no more Walter Cronkites, no more Studio 60s. It’s quite possible there will be no more Geoff Fox’s – air talent who amass as many individual impressions as I have over twenty two years in one market.
This crunch over viewers and costs has been enabled by new technologies. which replace people. I suppose it’s inevitable, even if it’s a shame.
A single TV show as a universal experience will never happen again. That’s why we need to celebrate the glory that is Studio 60, today.
¹ – Though there are parallels, this can’t be Saturday Night Live. In fact, Studio 60 acknowledges SNL as another network show.