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Boob Tubing

It always happens to me. The major TV networks have all announced their Fall schedules, and the two new shows we chose to watch — Jericho and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip — have both gotten the axe.

Actually, Jericho was more Christopher’s show and I just went along for the ride; its lousy but watchable dramatics called to mind Fox’s short-lived Reunion from the 2005-06 season. Like disaster movies of the ’70s, most of its appeal lied in speculating which character would die next. I wasn’t too surprised about the demises of shopkeeper Gracie (they always kill off the over-40 women first) and whiny April, but Gerald McRaney’s death in the final episode came out of nowhere. With the citizens of Jericho rallying to defend themselves from a neighboring town at season’s end, CBS sure left loyal viewers in the lurch. And that leaves a lot of pissed off people to wonder why the network decided to put a (gag) reality show about a bunch of children running their own town, Lord of the Flies style, in its time slot.

Jericho was one thing, but it’s the inevitable bye-bye of Studio 60 that leaves me truly saddened. Here was a smart, crackling drama that started out brilliantly, then as it moved along the cracks started to show (painfully unfunny show-within-a-show skits) until Aaron Sorkin resorted to putting his characters in awful, stock situations (Danny and Jordan stuck on the studio rooftop!). Viewers complained that it was insufferably smug, but I’ll take smugness any day over the escapist pablum that dominates network TV. More than anything, I admire Sorkin (whose shows I’d never watched before) for daring to criticize the system from within. We need more entertainment like that, but while Studio 60‘s corpse rots away our airwaves are filled with the likes of Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader? Guess it’s back to watching Frontline, American Experience and old movies on TCM for me.

One Thought on “Boob Tubing

  1. Studio 60 was always worth watching, even as it turned into a slow-motion — not a train wreck, exactly, but certainly a power skid. It was a mistake to show too much of the show within the show, and a worse mistake to try and make it funny. Sorkin always seemed funnier in dramatic mode than in sketch mode.

    Oh, well, c’est la TV, I guess. I should be reading more anyway.

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