Monday, September 18, 2006

Studio 60 On The Wire

Good show. The bottom line is that I was both amused and entertained.

It's not really an unqualified rave, though. The first episode isn't going to sell anyone who wasn't sold already. There wasn't a great, perfect Sorkin double-take laugh. There was an awful lot of storytelling, which was necessary given that there's like 17 main characters on the show. And the primary themes were awfully Sports Night to me... TV's going to hell, why won't somebody stand up for what's right, look at all these suits hiding behind Standards & Practices, etc. and so forth. Seen it.

But it's also important to recognize that we got exactly what we wanted, which is more Sorkin. Besides, you can't judge TV on the first episode of a show. No worthwhile sitcom/drama in TV history has ever failed to pick up steam. Neither The West Wing nor Sports Night were as good out of the gate as they eventually became. I see no reason for Studio 60 to be any different.

And now for something completely different...

If you'll allow me to spray on a bit of Pomposity For Men, by Calvin Klein...

We're living in a veritable golden age of hour-long dramas. Just in the last six or seven years we've seen the rise of The Sopranos, Rescue Me, The West Wing, Six Feet Under, Nip/Tuck, 24, Lost, and plenty of others that I may have missed. ("You're risking a patient's LIFE!!!") After decades of idiotic shit in the vein of The Love Boat and Melrose Place, it's a relief to know that there's some actual good television out there for public consumption.

The Wire is head and shoulders above anything on that list.

It's the most important TV drama ever made, and easily the most authentic, the most true. It's faithful... detail-oriented... intelligent... natural... down-to-Earth... heartbreaking... and funny. No television show takes its responsibility more seriously, and no other show is as successful from an artistic standpoint. It should be required viewing for older schoolkids, if only to bang home the point that anything can be deconstructed, and everything should be looked at with one eye askew.

But the reason it works so well is that it's so goddamn entertaining, despite being a civics lesson. It's got all the hallmarks of other sprawling dramas... soap opera intrigue, character arcs to keep track of, hell just characters to keep track of. But while it looks like steak, smells like steak, and tastes like steak, it's actually a green salad with avocado and yellow tomatoes. And I mean that as a compliment.

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