Monday, December 04, 2006

"Semi-Live" Blog: Studio 60: Very Special Christmas Episode (on the Sunset Strip)

Entitled: "The Christmas Show"

Danny & Jordan are in a doctor's waiting room. Jordan takes a poll, and she is the only pregnant woman present who is not with a husband or the father of the woman's baby. Danny goes back to the exam room with Jordan. Their chat seems to imply that Danny is not the father as some people online have theorized. She says the father is an ex-boyfriend. He questions how it is she and that guy didn't know about the plethora of different birth control methods available. She tells the doctor that her assistant and Danny are the only ones who know she's pregnant.

-----

Commentary: Rats! I, like many, thought maybe Danny was the father--that maybe the two of them hooked up off camera sometime. I guess not. Not only does Danny have no concern that it could be his, but his comment about birth control implies that even if he and Jordan had hooked up in the past, he would have insisted on protection.

-----

Matt brings in a sad looking, half-dead Christmas tree into the writers room--odd, since he's Jewish. Matt, for some reason, is eager to do a Christmas show, even though Wes, the old executive producer, always skipped it because he thought it didn't feel very "L.A." In fact, Matt is insisting on a Christmas show.

Danny tells Cal & Matt about Jordan's pregnancy behind closed doors. They ask who the father is, and Danny says is is the insurance guy who "outed" Danny [on his drug use that screwed up his film contract before getting the Studio 60 gig].

Jack is in an extremely foul mood about an FCC fine when Jordan goes to tell him she's pregnant. She says she's due in the middle of May. Jack wants to know who the father is. Jack congratulates her on the baby.

-----

Commentary: Wow, the first thing people ask Jordan is who the father is. Is that okay in real life? Surely there's got to be a taboo about that. Don't get me wrong, that would be the first thing to cross my mind too, but I'd like to think I'd have the tact to say or ask something else first. There's, "Congratulations!" and then, "Who's the father?". There's, "Wow, that's great! I don't know what to say. Is everything okay? You doing good? It's healthy? You're healthy?" and then, "So, uh, who's the father?". I wonder if Jordan will get the chance to tell one of the other female characters, and if so, I wonder what they'll say first.

-----

Cal tells Matt he can write in as much snow as he wants because they just got a load of coconuts (during the last act, they had a discussion about how they could turn coconut-covered treats into snowballs). When Matt asks Tom & Simon for Christmas ideas, Simon complains about Jesus being born in Africa but looking like Bee Gee, and Tom clarifies that the star of Bethlehem was actually comet. When Matt tells them to help his writing staff, Tom admits that he likes Lucy.

Harriet is at lunch with a movie guy (director? producer? casting director?) named Luke. He asks about her future plans and suggests for her a part in his Rolling Stones movie (Anita Palemburg? Not sure who that is).

The writers are bantering about ideas and some stuff about a Christmas poem having the wrong words. Cal comes in with a coconut. He asks how to open it. Darius says you use a machete (sp?). Cal, instead, tries to break it on the table, cracking the table in half with everything on it sliding toward the gap between the two halves and into the floor.

If Jordan's baby is due in May, Matt wonders who will do the upfronts. He's surprised by how much interest & concern Danny has about the question.

Harriet tells Matt about the role offer from Luke. Matt seems to think Luke has interest in Harriet and that that is why he offered her the part.

Danny expresses concern to Jordan about her being due around the time of the upfronts, thinking she could go into labor while she's introducing NBS's fall schedule.

-----

Commentary: I like Aaron Sorkin's writing when he's profound and witty. It usually came off better on The West Wing. Sometimes, however, is writing is a bit over my head. Not *way* over my head; I'm not stupid. But, sometimes, it's hard to follow exactly what some of his characters are saying when they're not just coming right out and saying it or what some characters are thinking when they overact to something. This last act of this episode was like that. I just didn't catch everything. Despite having it TiVo'ed, I don't feel too motivated to rewind to re-catch everything either.

Unless things better, I have a feeling I'm not going to like this episode as much as the Canadians that gave it glowing reviews this morning at Ain't It Cool News and TheTVAddict.com.

I'm beginning to wonder if maybe Danny could be the father of Jordan's baby afterall. He's acting oddly interested in her pregnancy. Maybe they did have a one-night stand, and maybe Jordan is just blowing it off because she doesn't think he's a likely candidate (maybe they used protection but it just didn't work, I don't know).

-----

Cal shows Matt that they have a snow machine. He's happy about that but concerned when he sees a Santa Claus in a Heil Hitler pose. Cal agrees to get rid of the Santa Claus.

The writers are still nitpicking over minutia like when Jesus was born and when the image of Santa Claus was invented. Simon still insists that Jesus was African (wouldn't he be more like Middle-Eastern, which maybe be similar but not quite the same thing?), and Matt's assistant is drying her socks on Matt's wimpy Christmas tree.

Jack and other board members are discussing the FCC violation that occurred on NBS news (one of those things explained earlier in the episode that I glossed over and didn't backtrack to clarify). Jordan comes by and insists on sitting in.

The band, including a substitute trumpet player, are practicing. Kevin Eubanks is sitting in the stands and is impressed with the trumpet player. Danny tells him he could probably get a job on the Tonight Show, but the guy says he's only substituting to do a guy a favor.

Lucy is still obsessing over the four year discrepancy in the calendar system, regarding when Jesus was actually born. Matt doesn't care.

Danny clarifies to Matt the band situation. The regular members of local bands, including TV bands, are calling in sick to have New Orleans musicians stand in for them. They're hoping the New Orleans musicians can get a chance at some jobs.

-----

Commentary: Okay, don't people in L.A. celebrate Christmas too? Some on this show are acting like Christmas is an alien festival. How realistic is it that the Jewish guy has the most Christmas spirit and that a roomful of writers spend an hour or two nitpicking over the calendar system and the skin color of Jesus as if those are the only directions they can take with Christmas-themed sketches? Regardless of the "quality" of the writing, sometimes this show just isn't believable.

-----

Harriet and Simon are practicing reading their cue cards for the weekly News 60 sketch. (The jokes they're reading are particularly long and not funny at all.) Luke comes by and gives Harriet flowers and admits that he is trying to date Harriet, again. He assures her that it is not the reason he cast her.

In the first sketch of the Friday show, Santa comes crashing down the chimney, Tom's character comes through the door, and text comes on the screen, "To Catch A Predator." Tom is playing Chris Hanson from Dateline and asks Santa what he's doing coming to see a 12-year old girl in the middle of the night.

Matt pulls Harriet aside and kisses her right before she goes on for News 60. It throws her off as she almost introduces herself as Matt.

Jack goes to Wilson White to explain the news incident in which a reporter was interviewing a soldier, an RPG went off nearby, and one of them said the F-word. Wilson White knew about it. Jack offers to resign so that the FCC won't block the merger with the Chinese company that White has been working with. White says he won't pay a fine of any amount and that he won't delay the news. He doesn't accept Jack's offer to resign.

When the show comes back from a commercial, Simon introduces, "the city of New Orleans." About six or eight N.O. musicians they could find are on stage playing "O Holy Night" on trumpets, saxophones, etc., with a slide show of N.O. images behind them.

While the band is playing, Jordan is in a room with Wilson White and his family stuffing her face with a sandwich (eating for two now). Danny asks to talk with her privately. He says, "I've been married twice before, and I'm a recovering cocaine addict. And, I know that's no woman's dream of a man, or of a father. Nonetheless, I believe I'm falling in love with you. If you want to run, I understand. But, you better get a good head start, because I'm coming for you Jordan. ...You should go ahead and chew that sandwich." Jordan just looks stunned (and stuffed) as Danny walks away.

Back on the slide show behind the band, there is a sign that says, "All I want for Christmas is my city back."

Danny tells Matt that he "said it" (told Jordan). Matt says Danny was right, "We do live here now." They tell each other Merry Christmas.

-----

Commentary: Okay, the episode ended on a more positive note. Danny's feelings for Jordan seemed to come from almost nowhere. I didn't even think they had had that many scenes together. Regardless, I think they might make an interesting couple, and it's not everyday you see someone on TV or in real life profess their newfound love to a woman who is recently pregnant with someone else's baby. Also, it's nice to see Bradley Whitford play a character who starts a relationship quickly when compared to his West Wing character, Josh Lyman, who took a little over six seasons to finally hook up with his assistant Donna (with whom the two had obvious chemistry almost immediately).

So far, this show is still too cerebral at times. Don't get me wrong; I don't mind shows that make you think. But, sometimes I feel like to totally comprehend, accept, and enjoy an episode of an Aaron Sorkin show, you actually need to *be* Aaron Sorkin, or at least have some facsimile of his brain implanted in your own skull. Sometimes, I just don't get everything that goes on in his brain. It's hit and miss; sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't, and sometimes I don't know what to think.

This episode had a lot of Sorkinesque stuff I could have done without, which kept the show from being as enjoyable for me as it could have been for others. Unlike the Canandians online, I'd have to give the episode 3 out of 5 stars. Maybe I'm just disappointed because their reviews made it sound so much better.

I think this might have been the last episode until January, so to recap the season... The pilot was a major disappointment compared to critical reviews, but some of the follow-up episodes showed more potential. I still think the "West Coast Feed" episode was the best so far, the one where they realize they may have plaguarized a joke by accident and have to break into the West Coast feed to do News 60 live a 2nd time with a makeshift audience for the purpose of apologizing for the error. The two-parter about Tom being arrested in Parump, Nevada, had a mixed bag of good points and bad points, but the last five minutes of the Part 2 episode had two really good laugh-out-loud moments. I vaguely remember thinking that one episode sometime after that was pretty good but that other episodes felt very transitional. And, I really wasn't too fond of last week's episode at all.

I'll continue to give the show a chance, especially since they're guaranteed at least one full season to get it right, but I do hope things get better from here.

-----

Like I said, I started to depend on TiVo; so much for "live" blogging. Anyway, it's 12:23AM, my TiVo unpaused itself to show the Tonight Show playing live. Leno just got done interviewing Cate Blanchett, and now Larry the Cable Guy is on. He keeps trying to include Cate in his interview. She just looks like she doesn't know what to think of Larry. She keeps grinning and nodding like she wishes Larry would leave her alone. I don't think Leno is witty very often, but I have to admit it was funny when he said of Cate & Larry, "You two look like the worst eHarmony match up ever." :)

1 comment:

TV Watch said...

I was glad to see Studio 60 spend time on an issue that affects all Americans. Unfortunately, the threat of fines from the FCC - even for live programming, like the newscast on last night's episode - is very real. PBS news programs on the war in Iraq, Saving Private Ryan, and even attempts to televise the funeral of Pat Tillman have all been either edited or cancelled out of fear of major fines.

For more information on how the threat of government fines is putting a real damper on everything from newscasts to live sports programming, go to www.televisionwatch.org