I am a sucker for Aaron Sorkin‘s work. He’s got a very distinct, unique voice. On the two previous TV shows he worked on (Sports Night and The West Wing), he wrote most of the scripts. He’s famous for his dialogue — both quality and quantity.
If you’ve watched his shows you probably had one of two reactions: a) God, I wish I was as smart and funny as these people, or b) What the hell planet are these babbling idiots from?
Back in November of 2005, tipped off by Warren Ellis, I wrote a brief mention of Sorkin’s next project, then titled Studio 7. By May of this year, I had obtained a draft copy of the pilot script on the Internet. Around the same time, NBC showed a six-minute clip at their upfront presentation, which showed up on YouTube. Now, NBC has made the pilot available for rental through NetFlix.
I watched Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (as it was eventually renamed) this week and enjoyed it thoroughly. It has all the strengths and weaknesses of Sorkin’s past efforts, which means I’ll be watching every week. Originally, it was scheduled to go on Thursday night, but then Grey’s Anatomy was put in the same timeslot on ABC and so NBC moved it to Monday. I’m not sure this is a great spot, but the network has already ordered 13 episodes, so hopefully it will get a shot. The show attracted some attention because it was one of two shows on NBC’s fall schedule that present a behind-the-scenes view of a show that is just like Saturday Night Live.
One of the things Sorkin tried to do on The West Wing was show what he called the five minutes before and after the public event you saw on TV. I suspect Studio 60 will be more about ego clashes and power plays than about comedy. If you rent the DVD, you’ll see a four-minute preview that references some differences from the pilot that will air. For example, there’s a joke that includes a reference to public masturbation; in the preview, you see Danny (Bradley Whitford) say the line instead of Matt (Matthew Perry). Plus, there some little pieces that were cut, probably for reasons of time or flow.
I’ll come back to this program later, but for now, I’m happy enough and looking forward to the premier in September.