FLASHBACK: STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP

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During my screenwriting class last semester, our professor showed us the teaser to Aaron Sorkin’s pilot for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and I was in awe. First of all, they introduce us to flustered production assistant, scurrying around the studio moments before the broadcast of a fictional variety show – think SNL on the West Coast…and on Fridays…and on a fictional network, NBS. Anyways, this PA turns out to be none other than my favorite actress at the moment, Merritt Wever! But back in 2006, she didn’t have her Emmy.

Anyway, the show follows veteran comedy duo Matt Albie (Matthew Perry) and Danny Tripp (Bradley Whitford) as they are called back to the variety show that helped define their careers. Matt is somewhat hesitant to return to Studio 60 because his ex, Harriett Hayes (Sarah Paulson) is now the show’s star, alongside Simon Stiles (D.L. Hughley) and Tom Jeter (Nate Corddrey).

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To complicate matters, NBS has just hired a new president, Jordan McDeere (Amanda Peet), an attractive, young, sensible woman who doesn’t have the social wits about her. Sound like another Aaron Sorkin character to you? Sloan Sabbith, anyone? And that’s not the only Sorkin staple he throws into this show. The power outage right before airtime? The same problem plagues The Newsroom staff before News Night with Will McAvoy. The show also executes Sorkin’s famous “walk and talk” scenes, as made famous in The West Wing.

The combination of writing in acting in this show is surprisingly succinct for an NBC drama, but the lack of ratings and the promising comedy 30 Rock kept Studio 60 from being renewed for a second season. In its one season, however, Sarah Paulson was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama, a well-deserved nod that put the show on the map too late in the game.

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If you’re interested in watching, you’ll have a tough time finding it online. I found the complete series at Newbury Comics for nine bucks – quite the bargain compared to my subsequent Chipotle lunch.

Bullet Points from Winter Break

After four weeks of bumming in front of the couch, with my only exercise being the mindless operation of the four clickers (that could be replaced by one universal clicker (or remote – whatever you want to call it)), I am back on campus and ready to assimilate back to society. But before I do, I figured I would post about the shows I watched over break. Think of it as a form of procrastination before I have actual commitments. And I’m being lazy so I’m just going to do bullet points:

NURSE JACKIE

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-Merritt Wever is the greatest actress on television. She demonstrates tremendous growth as Zoey Barkow, from her skittish days standing up to Dr. O’Hara after her stethoscope was stolen, to the kimono wearing, devil-may-care diva who goes home with Dr. Prentice.
-Peter Facinelli was in Twilight? And also played a doctor? That’s funny. But Coop, too, has changed a whole lot – especially after his moms file for divorce and he is subsequently stood up at the alter. The scene when he buys O’Hara two baby carriers is one of my favorite scenes.
-Eve Best needs to come back to the show. Season Five seemed difficult because Jackie didn’t have anyone to talk to – so she resorted to dead Charlie’s voicemail. Everything she says is funny in her British accent.
-Ruby Jerins is a pretty great child actor. Much better than some of her contemporaries – you go, Gracie.
-Fiona is still better than Gracie.
-When we find out that Gloria Akalitus doesn’t have Alzheimer’s – television gold
-Thor’s one-liners are perfect – and makes up for Momo leaving unexpectedly after the first season.
-Michael Buscemi is AMAZING as God – a disgruntled New Yorker who looks down upon the city screaming at pedestrians on the street.
-Best Episode: Season Four Finale, in which O’Hara goes into labor as Jackie sneaks back into the hospital after being fired by Dr. Cruz. However, Cruz catches our heroine right as his son, Charlie, is wheeled into the ER for an overdose. Cruz clears the stabilizing bay as he and Jackie attempt to unsuccessfully resuscitate Charlie. So many feels.
-Edie Falco = television goddess

ENLIGHTENED

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-Laura Dern stars as Amy, a manic businesswoman who is sent a holistic healing program and returns to her job in an attempt to mend her work and home life – all while trying changing the world. She’s pretty cool and starred in Jurassic Park.
-Mike White writes and stars as Tyler in this rather poetic project. All though it only lasted two seasons, there are many universal truths unveiled through his mellow storytelling. We learn a lot about the human condition and what it means to change and just BE. Very meta shit going on, but I like it.
-These two unlikely friends attempt to take down their cosmetic company, Abbadon
-Molly Shannon guest stars as Eileen, the secretary for Abbadon’s CEO. Amy and Tyler befriend her to gain access to the CEO’s corrupting emails, but Tyler falls for her timid ways. If you watch any episode, go watch “The Ghost is Seen.” It will give you a new perspective about all the people you have ever made fun of…ever.
-Overall, the show is kind of like a poem. It can be a light, breezy watch, or you can look further into it to find the discreet symbolism and social commentary.

THE NEWSROOM

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-Aaron Sorkin is a master storyteller – but I didn’t have to tell you that.
-I only knew Jeff Daniels from Dumb and Dumber, and my god how people can change. He is compelling as controversial news anchor Will McAvoy, who vows, under the guidance of his executive producer and one time lover Mackenzie McHale, to bring unbiased news to the voting public.
-Allison Pill as Maggie and John Gallagher Jr. as Jim are the new “Jim and Pam;” let’s hope season three has something more in store for this duo.
-The way Sorkin handled the Gabrielle Giffords shooting was impeccable. It shows how our divided nation came together to support one of our Congresswomen. And Coldplay’s “Fix You” didn’t hurt either.
-Dev Patel finally shakes his stereotypical Indian character. He literally bears none of the stereotypes in these two seasons. We need more of this.
-Sloan Sabbith is the greatest name in television, and Olivia Munn plays her perfectly – nerdy, socially uncomfortable, etc. And she arcs thanks to Don – who we all hated up until we found out he bought her book at the auction, right?
-Jane Fonda as Leona Lansing = A+, with a bonus for being high as a kite
-Speaking of being high as a kite… “We caught Obama” – McAvoy
-“Unintended Consequences” (the episode of flashbacks to Maggie’s trip to Uganda and subsequent hair cutting) got the best of me.