I recently got hooked on Friends. I watched the entire series over a period of a few weeks. I had never seen it before, but now it’s one of my all time favorite sit-coms. It was attracted to Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip because it stars Matthew Perry and I was interested in seeing how his post-Friends career went.
Perhaps because it only lasted one season, I was surprised to see how many people online were saying how great Studio 60 was. Some even suggested it was prematurely canceled because it was too good. This all piqued my interest even more, but I was still expecting a sit-com with Perry attempting to duplicate the massive success of Friends. IMDB only described it as “A behind-the-scenes look at a fictional sketch-comedy TV show.”, so I was thinking it would be along the lines of 30 Rock. But just in the first few minutes of the first episode, I realized it was nothing like 30 Rock, it was more along the lines of the Academy Award winning 1976 film Network.
It starts out with the head writer of the sketch-comedy TV show being told that one of the sketches has to be cut because it will offend the religious among their audience. The writer fights the decision as much as he can but inevitably resigns to his fate. However, shortly after the show goes live, he can’t take it anymore. He interrupts a sketch and goes on a Howard Beale-worthy tirade about how the FCC’s censorship and religious boycotts are lowering the standards and quality of TV programming and infringing artists’ freedom of speech.
The series was created and written by Aaron Sorkin, who recently won an Oscar for writing the screenplay for The Social Network. It has a great, if eclectic, cast that includes: Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, and Ed Asner, as well as many other recognizable faces from both comedic and dramatic backgrounds. This show is a wonderful example of how much actors can shine when given well written material, especially performers you may underestimate. I’ve enjoyed Matthew Perry and Amanda Peet in other roles, but here they really prove their acting talents.
I still have twenty-one episodes to go, and I may post about this again as I continue through the series, but I can already tell you Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is worth the time if you ever get a chance to watch it. And like Firefly, Arrested Development and so many others before it, I can say it’s a show that was ended long before it’s time.