Thursday, September 28, 2006

MY THOUGHTS ON STUDIO 60

Well on Monday ESPN was the big winner, yet again. Its airing of the first NFL game back at the Superdome since the awful Katrina hurricane disaster that turned that place into a revolting, sweltering steambath of a shelter for these poor hurricane victims, got a record audience for the network again and a rating of 11.8. That topped the previous week's record ESPN rating.

The bad news is that Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip once again got killed. NBC has invested heavily in the show, but CSI: Miami is on a roll, beating Studio 60 by a mile. And keep this in mind, too--- as well as CSI: Miami is doing, ESPN is doing even better. So Studio 60 is not simply running second to CBS; it's running third.

There are all kinds of theories afloat out there about why this show is not doing better. Nikki Finke was ranting about how NBC left this show to hang out to dry on its schedule, and says this show should have premiered in midseason on another night. She blames the executives in charge over there for damaging this show's chances. But what nights were out there for NBC to plant this show? They couldn't really have put this show on Sundays- that's the traditional "night of doom" for NBC. They would have gotten killed by ABC and CBS and besides, Sunday's not available anyway until February because of the NFL. Saturday is a throwaway night these days, and Fridays aren't a big TV night either. So if they wanted to make this show a hit they had to put this show anywhere from Monday to Thursday. And they couldn't put it Thursday because of Grey's Anatomy, and they can't put it Wednesday because of Lost, and they can't put it Tuesday because NBC runs the Law and Order spinoffs that night and have been running those shows there for years. And the most likely time slot would be 9PM, and House runs on FOX that night at that time.

There are no easy solutions here. Me, I'd shift Studio 60 to Sunday after the football season is over, because Studio 60 stands a chance against Brothers and Sisters and the other dreck being served up by all the other networks. But then you have all that HBO stuff competing with it and cutting into their audience. And Sunday was the night that NBC chose to put The Apprentice in a last-ditch effort to try and save that show, after flopping on Mondays.They could also try and put Studio 60 onTuesdays, or even Fridays. Maybe 10PM on Friday night will become available if the folks there decide to move Law and Order again. I dunno, Monday is as good a night as any to run this show. Maybe this show simply has no shot with the public, period. Doctor shows, procedurals, and action-packed shows like 24 seem to be all the rage these days. There's also a big demand for serialized stuff like Lost which has a lot of mystery to it. Nobody seems to be clamoring to watch a behind-the-scenes show about TV.

As well, this show is getting crucified by these blog writers. I read David Poland's blog and he crucified Aaron Sorkin, calling this show self-indulgent. Everyone wants to compare this show to The West Wing, and they all are finding this show coming up short. Personally, I think it does the show a disservice to compare it to The West Wing, which was one of the truly great shows of television; this is entertainment, darnet, not politics. So obviously, it's not going to be the same. Maybe these folks still wish that The West Wing was still on and are disgusted that they have to watch Studio 60 instead.

Personally, I think this show is just trying to rehash Sports Night and that's why this show is letting people down. They put in the young female network president on there, just like they put a young female executive producer in charge on Sports Night. A lot of people think the Amanda Peet network-president character is completely unbelievable, and they're right. They need a network president character who's larger than life, a Fred Silverman-type character, or a Les Moonves-type. Even a Brandon Tartikoff would do. Not this wimpy Amanda Peet character- really, would you want her in charge of YOUR network?! Maybe they were hoping that Faye Dunaway would accept the part, instead. I dunno what they are thinking.

I guess they figured that If they tried a copy of Jeff Zucker it would surely hit too close to home, but still, they need a larger-than-life network president!

Anyway, the main complaint about the show seems to be that people think it's unbelievable. I mean, I've seen episodes of Entourage ( the first season, anyway), and that show seems to give a more accurate view of life in Hollywood than this show does. Entourage makes it seem as if every box-office total is life or death! That's what this show needs, some realism. I'll give Studio 60 chance, but they need to come up with some drama. There's a lot of drama involved with the production of a troubled network television program. Will the show be cancelled? will this cast member quit?! It's kind of sad when the behind-the-scenes changes at Saturday Night Live are already more dramatic than the boring stuff happening on Studio 60. Everyone's getting fired from that show.

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