Serial Watcher – Studio 60 – Episode 1-22

“What kind of day has it been” is the question that sums up the last month of Studio 60 Episodes. It’s hard to believe that a primetime drama, other than 24 will focus for five episodes on the events that take place in a period of 10 hours, but Studio 60 was not you average primetime drama, it was an Aaron Sorkin creation.

Yes, starting today we have to talk about Studio 60 in the past tense. “What kind of day has it been” was the series finale. The most intelligent new show of the 2006-7 season ended its run after only one season, and even though it was anything but consistent and had its share of bad episodes, it’s a sad TV day.

Sorkin decided to end things on a positive note, as everything fell into place for our heroes. Jordan wakes up and asks Danny to legally adopt her baby girl, Rebecca (But please, naming her Rebecca Tripp? Not Rebecca McDeere, or even McDeere-Tripp?). Tom’s brother is rescued with his friends, by the US armed forces. Simon doesn’t apologize (The roles reverse as he’s willing to do so but Jack doesn’t want him to) and finally, the relationship that was hanging over the show from day one, Matt and Harriet, is now in the “on again” stage of their “on again off again” saga.

While the dialogue in this episode, especially between Matt and Danny, was superb, I think that Sorkin decided to give everyone a happy ending just to please the viewing crowd, to play nice with them, because in some cases the solution to the problem just came out of nowhere. Jordan is literally on her death bed, and suddenly she wakes up and feels okay. Tom’s ready to pay up whatever amount is needed to buy his brother’s freedom and suddenly his brother is rescued this just seems too convenient. I can buy Matt and Harriet getting back together and I get that the whole “playing chicken” between Jack and Simon those two plots made sense and were consistent with the characters and background.

But I guess Sorkin wanted to close things in a nice way. Previously in the season, when he tried to cater to the masses and turn the show into a relationship drama, it blew up in his face and it drove people away. But ever since he changed the focus of the show back to the politics behind the TV industry, it was on an amazing streak of intelligent, captivating and thought provoking episodes. I guess the slip he had this week can be ignored and I should focus on the good things of the episode (Everything not involving Jordan and Mark’s rescue).

I’ve written before that Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip was the show I anticipated the most last season. When I look back on its only season as a whole, it lived up to my expectations. From Wes Mendell’s speech in the pilot to Simon’s tirade, Sorkin got to say whatever he wanted on the state of today’s TV, about politicians, the religious right basically to piss off most of the viewers. While NBC was brave to put it all on the air, the audience didn’t want to hear it. The ratings went down each week until NBC had no choice but to put the show on the shelf for a long time before announcing its cancellation and only bringing it back in the off-season to finish the rest of the already produced show. I guess those rants were right, but people just didn’t want to listen to the hard truth.

Studio 60 was good TV. It was made for people who don’t just love watching TV but for people who love TV as a medium. When it was good, it was very good. It had the best writers, great directors (most of them started as actors themselves, so they know how to do the job on different levels) and excellent actors Bradley Whitford, Mathew Perry, Amanda Peet, Steven Webber, D. L. Hughley, Sarah Paulson, Nate Corddry and Timothy Busfield, together with all the supporting cast, delivered strong performances.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip will not be back in September. Somehow I can’t help but think that this fact makes the next season’s schedule a little bit less intelligent and thought provoking than this year’s. I just hope that Wes Mendell’s speech will remain in the heads of those making TV, before they order the next season of Who wants to screw my sister?.