Saturday 1 December 2007

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip...

There's a mere couple of episodes left to run on the series here in the UK, but I couldn't resist the gripping lure of the K&R storyline and had to see the final episodes before they aired here, and might I say they were bloody brilliant. It's a real shame that the show was cancelled, a genuine shame. By the sounds of it one of the main problems with the show's original airing in America was the schedule - gaps that lasted weeks, changing times and so on - something which often means death to a show, and obviously dwindling numbers as nobody knows when it's on or if it's on. I still maintain that the Americans are absolute idiots when it comes to scheduling their shows - take season 3 of "Lost" for instance. They rush it out before Christmas and show a mere 6 episodes, at which grippingly exciting point they piss off for a break - a THREE MONTH LONG break. It destroys continuity, it pisses the audience off, and it's just not put it in a very English way. But seriously, it's just idiotic and it appears that "Studio 60" suffered typically American scheduling cock ups where 'a week off here, two weeks there, a month over there' is perfectly fine - shock/horror, it fucking isn't whoever you dimwits are that decide such schedules! Apparently "Studio 60" was highly rated for 'record for later' audiences (and if it's getting shown late on a work night, of course people are going to record it for a more convenient time, another shock/horror but the audience are not slaves to a network's every whim and ultimately wield the most power when it comes down to it - the power to switch off, the power to record and watch later. And of course the power to fast foward through adverts, turn the sound off during them, switch to another channel during them, or heaven's forbid use the time constructively by taking a piss or getting more munchies. To be honest, 'sponsored by' advertising works a lot better in this day and age where the public mass and increasingly seeking to do their viewing how they want...but still, even sponsoring a show doesn't guarantee somebody will drink your booze or drive your car. Back to "Studio 60" and while it sagged a bit mid-season (but then again, many shows do, such as "Lost" which routinely does so), the first and last thirds of the season were intriguing, entertaining, enjoyable and in the latter third's case, absolutely gripping - genuinely quality television. The acting is top notch, the dialogue and the scripts are top notch - and yet it was still cancelled. An absolute travesty when the likes of "Nip/Tuck" - arguably one of the weakest of the current spate of 'quality dramas' (a show which I've watched since the beginning) doesn't even have half the tension, intelligence, quality or interest that "Studio 60" had. "Nip/Tuck", while a nice enough distraction, is generally as shallow as it's profession-of-focus, lunging from one lecherous plot line to another. The protagonists make one stupid decision after another - the fifth season's meth-head storyline makes barely any sense and is nestled in as subtly as a rabid badger in a flopsy-the-bunny sanctuary. Seriously, the characterisation feels blunt and unwieldy - tabloid-like, or soap-opera-like - meanwhile the absolutely excellent "Dexter" (thankfully renewed for a third season recently) has deep and troubled characters. You can at one point hate someone and then 40 thoughtful minutes later you pity/like/love them instead...such as LaGuerta in season one. So with "Nip/Tuck" being generally 'meh', why on earth was the intelligence and genuine wit of "Studio 60" cancelled after merely one season?! Was the routine attack at back-stage corporate TV politics too close-to-the-bone? Was it too smart? Or were those in charge of the big red "yes" and "no" buttons just too stupid to get the show. Then again in a world where "Futurama" was cancelled, then anything superb can be cancelled...but then again, at the very least "Futurama" has finally made a return with the first-of-four DVD movies recently. It's an absolute shame that "Studio 60" was shit-canned. For another solid reason for it's greatness, Matthew Perry had found a character who wasn't Chandler. He had successfully moved on with a new persona who was complex and intriguing. The entire show was filled with such protagonists. May a thousand angry red-arsed baboons descend on those who made the decision to shaft such a quality slice of television.

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