So my hotel room in Edinburgh is tiny, but decent enough. I realized that it was missing things I’ve come to expect in a hotel room, such as an alarm clock, but was a bit surprised to see a note saying that I could schedule a wakeup call through the television. I’m fairly used to hotels having interactive TV systems using LodgeNet, which seems to be the standard interactive TV solution, but I don’t recall them offering a wakeup/alarm offering. So, I was a bit surprised when I turned on the little TV in the corner here and discovered what appears to be interactive TV using ancient DOS applications:
For whatever it’s worth, the wake up system actually works quite well. It turns on the TV and very, very gradually turns up the volume. It has helped me gradually wake up each day without any kind of shock to the system. I’m actually now thinking that something like this would be a lot nicer at home than the standard super-annoying alarm clock I use. DOS or no DOS, it’s pretty slick.
So apparently tonight is the last time Studio 60 is likely to air. It’s been replaced in the schedule next week and there’s no set date to bring it back. The theory is that it’s pretty much gone for good, and, if anything NBC will either put the remaining episodes online or possibly air them randomly over the summer to keep the 3 or so die-hard fans happy. For a show that was probably the most anticipated show of the new season just a few months ago, by a can’t miss creator in Aaron Sorkin, it’s nothing short of upsetting.
However, as many people have pointed out, the show just wasn’t up to par. Most people wanted to compare it to Sorkin’s more famous The West Wing, but to me, Sorkin peaked early with Sports Night. While I never stopped watching The West Wing (even after Sorkin left), I always kept wishing it would move more towards Sports Night at its peak. I was actually really excited when I heard about Studio 60, believing that it was the perfect vehicle for Sorkin to go more towards what he had with Sports Night, which was more comedy than drama. Sorkin obviously does the whole “behind-the-scenes-in-a-fast-paced-environment” thing like no one else — but he seemed to get things mixed up here. Studio 60 was a lot more like The West Wing than Sports Night. Sports Night worked because it was funny. The rhythmic pacing and the humor was what made the show shine. The drama on The West Wing worked because it’s an inherently dramatic situation. But, backstage at a lighthearted TV show, whether a sports newscast or a sketch comedy show, should be funny. When watching Studio 60 you never got the feeling that anyone was very funny — which is hard to believe considering they were supposed to be a bunch of comedians.
The direction Sorkin should have gone with the show was to ditch the drama and focus on the comedy — making it a lot more like Sports Night. For comparison’s sake, here’s a clip from Sports Night where there’s still plenty of drama, and the characters still connect well with each other, but the humor shines through:
Compare that with a similar clip from Studio 60, where the pacing and the lighting and the camera work and, well, everything, turn what’s supposed to be a comic moment into a complete downer:
Sorkin had a real opportunity with Studio 60 to create something great, but he dragged it way too far towards another West Wing when it always should have been another Sports Night. Oh well. Hopefully whatever he’s got up his sleeve next will work out better.
I had meant to be posting a lot more often to this blog then I have, but things have been busy with Techdirt, so I haven’t had much time. Plus, all the good stuff I find, usually is worth posting there.
But here’s one that’s really off-topic for Techdirt. I’m a huge fan of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (as well as the Colbert Report), and was surprised recently to hear that Fox News had decided to come up with a “conservative response” or a conservative version of TDSwJS, that apparently is set to air this weekend. Of course, Fox News has leaked out some of the first show and it’s beyond awful. It really is quite a train wreck.
This is leading to a bunch of folks saying that “conservatives can’t do comedy.” Now, I don’t consider myself a conservative or a liberal — but something about that didn’t seem right to me. And, then, I finally realized why the whole concept of “a conservative version of The Daily Show” seems so stupid. The Daily Show isn’t liberal. It points out stupidity — and it just so happens that it makes a lot more sense to point out the stupidity of the party in power then the party that’s not in power. They certainly do point out stupidity on the other side of the aisle as well, and assuming the Democrats ever come back to power, there will be plenty of material for The Daily Show to work from then, as well.
Setting up the show as having an ideological viewpoint is where Fox News went wrong. It’s not that conservatives aren’t funny. It’s that ideologues aren’t funny. They believe too strongly in their own ideology to see much humor in anything that touches on it. The Daily Show is funny because it satirizes any kind of stupid behavior, with no respect for ideology. This other thing sets up an ideology and all the humor disappears immediately.