Wednesday, October 04, 2006

If there's one thing going down the drain faster than our civil liberties, it's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. And Aaron Sorkin has no one to blame for this one but himself.

The pilot episode was at least half-full of potential, if self-congratulatory in the extreme. The second episode was guilty of delivering one of the most hyped "Weird" Al Yankovic treatments of Gilbert and Sullivan to ever fall short of The Capitol Steps' already quite low standards. But it was with Monday's third episode that they lost me.

The opening scene finds that guy from Wings trading rapid fire Sorkinisms with network president Amanda Peet (and doesn't she have moxie!) behind the two-way mirror of a focus group viewing room. He's defending the validity of audience research and she's dismissing it. Her argument, the only one given any teeth by the always one-sided Sorkin, reaches its climax when one participant suggests that a commedia dell'arte sketch isn't funny, and in doing so misplaces either that form's heyday or heyplace. I can't remember which. In any case, upon hearing the man's comment Peet's character proclaims, while marching out of the room, that as the group is being held in LA it has little to no value because, and I'm going to paraphrase because I can't find a transcript online, "...most of the participants are out of work writers, saying what they're saying because they know I'm in here watching and they're trying to impress me, but they're going to stay out of work because they don't know the commedia dell'arte was 16th century and Italian."

Now I'm no fan of Hollywood, and I'm certainly no fan of the tens of thousands of out of work writers toiling away annoyingly in any of the town's coffee shops at 3 on a Thursday afternoon. But to suggest that the reason these people are out of work is that they don't know the history of the commedia dell'arte -- an insulting shorthand for them being not as smart as the constantly employed Sorkin -- is really, really insane. And anyone who has ever watched Major Dad realizes that. If television writers are so fucking smart, why are 98% of the shows on television totally unwatchable? And why are the writers constantly getting fucked over by the producers, the networks, the actors, the directors, the gaffers, the craft service people, and pretty much everyone else in the greater Los Angeles area, except women?

And an aside: if Sorkin really wanted to play who's got the big cock with his knowledge of theater history, he might have considered something slightly more esoteric than commedia dell'arte, which is pretty much the third thing taught after Oedipus and Shakespeare to anyone who takes an introductory theater class at any secondary school that doesn't have "Vocational" in its name. It's not exactly Artaud, is it, Aaron?

If Aaron Sorkin, above, is so smart, why can't he figure out a way to make his teeth a little less disgusting and brown?

Analogcabin @ 9:27 AM
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