Sunday, August 06, 2006

Early Peeks: Studio 60 and Kidnapped

All of us Netflix suscribers got an early present this year as NBC decided to unleash two pilots to anticipated series this fall for viewing a good month before they premiere on our television sets. I got a chance to watch these tonight and thought I would let you in on some early reviews to what I'm sure are going to be heavily talked about shows when they finally make their debuts.

The title of the show refers to the title of a show within the show; it's a late night live comedy sketch show that airs Friday Nights on the fictional NBS(National Broadcasting Service). Hint, hint, nudge, nudge. Yes, this is Aaron (The West Wing) Sorkin's loosely fictional tellings of the behind the scenes antics that go on a "Saturday Night Live" esque show.

As the pilot starts, "Studio 60's" producer (Judd Hirsch) is not having a great night. Two minutes before they go live the station's standards commission has decided to pull a possibly controversial skit called "Happy Christians" and replace it with a tired retread they haven't been able to ever make funny, "Peripheral Vision Man." Realizing what kind of tool he has become by agreeing to this debacle, he decides to interrupt the show once it goes live and give a speech to the viewing audience (ala Network) about how beuracratic and ridiculous television has become; as one newsanchor covering the story states, "He's mad, and not taking it anymore."

Enter Jordan McDeere (Amanda Peet) who's on her first day as the new Network head. To counteract all of the bad publicity she decides to go get a former director and writer of the show who were fired years ago and have since gone on to great careers in film, Matthew Albie (Matthew Perry) and Daniel Tripp (Bradley Whitford). In nabbing Albie and Tripp, McDeere hopes to save the show and at the same time implement herself quickly as a woman to take seriously in this male dominated workfield.

Pretty much everything. This show is smart, hits all of the right dramatic notes that it sets out to nail, and to top it off it is really fucking funny. This is some biting satire that I'm shocked NBC was willing to let out on the air. NBC is basically making fun of itself here for falling so quickly in the ratings the last few years after having a pretty unbeatable line-up when it boasted the likes of "Friends," "Seinfeld," "Frasier," "ER," and so on.

The writing is top notch. You'll be quoting this thing for days. "Vancouver doesn't even look like Vancouver, it looks like Boston, Los Angeles."

The cast is amazing. Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford play off each other like they've been an acting team for the past twenty years. Amanda Peet has been given that role that is really going to catapult her career into a whole new light. Actors like Steven Weber, DL Hughley, and Timothy Busfield are given enough to do to whet our appetites to see them later down the road. Sorkin can handle a cast of characters (as he proved on West Wing) as well as anyone else. And maybe it's because I never have really gotten into politics, and find television more interesting, but I think Studio 60 has a chance to be quite a bit better than "The West Wing;" a show I never really got into but had a lot of respect for if that makes sense. This show is going to win a lot of emmys; I can say that with a certanity a month before it goes out to the general public.

Really nothing but nitpicky stuff. Like if NBC is standing behind this thing, then why can't the network on the show actually be NBC and not NBS. Also, I wonder if the general public is really going to care enough about a show as pompous as this. As much as I like the "No holds barred" attitude, sometimes I thought it might need to pull the punches just a tad; this could go over the top pretty quickly. But I can't wait to see where this show is going to go. This is easily the most intriguing pilot I've seen since "Lost."

Timothy Hutton plays Conrad Kane, a big to do businessman, so big and powerful his son needs a bodyguard. Unfortunately the bodyguard can't do enough to save Kane's son from being kidnapped, hence the title of the show. This is NBC's answer to 24 as it will follow for the course of the season, one kidnapping case. The pilot introduces us to a cast of lively characters including a gun for hire, played by Jeremy Sisto, who has a innate ability to track down kidnapped victims and get them back to their family's unharmed (At least not dead). We also get an FBI bigwig played by Delroy Lindo, who is a friend of the son's bodyguard, and finds out about the kidnapping as he tries to track down his friend's whereabouts.

This type of show pretty much is all set-up in the pilot, and you ask yourself at the end whether or not you are intrigued enough to keep watching to see what happens. Well, I am. The show gets us in on the action very quickly; we don't even know what kind of work Timothy Hutton's character is in at the end of the pilot. I like all of the little mysteries like this that the show presents; they're more intriguing than the main kidnapping storyline. Like why does his son even have a bodyguard; he has two other kids that don't? And where the hell is his older daughter; she's away at college, but why can't they get a hold of her?

And like "Studio 60," this is a great cast. Besides the forementioned, it's nice to see the likes of Dana Delaney, Ricky Jay, and Doug Hutchinson back on the screen again. Sisto is especially good here, his career motivations, I have a feeling, are going to play a big part into the resolution of the storyline.

The show's editing choices annoyed me at times; the MTV quick cuts that really tell us nothing except that the editor is good with flashcuts. Also the sound looping, especially the kidnapper's voice over the phone, leave a lot to desire; at times, quite unintelligible. On a well polished show like this you would think we would be able to understand what people are saying.

Also, this type of show takes a lot of commitment, much like 24. We know 24's good though, will this show keep the intensity that the pilot presents? All I can say is I hope so. It's hard to judge a show like this after the pilot, but it's definately worth giving a shot too for a few weeks. It presents a lot of cool possibilities. Here's hoping for the best.


At 8/07/2006 06:02:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Studio 60 is definitely one I'm interested in; don't know about Kidnapped.

One I definitely won't be watching is Fox's 'Til Death. Could those ads for that show be any less funny?


Post a Comment

<< Home