Question: Even with all the hype, do you think Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip will survive? I ask because while Matthew Perry is pitch-perfect, proving my instincts right (he was the most talented and underutilized Friends cast member), and while the dialogue is a little bit of heaven, after the second episode, am I the only one seeing some serious cracks in the foundation? I'm having a very hard time believing any of these characters. D.L. Hughley is the only person who even remotely seems like he would be on a Saturday Night Live-style show. Everyone else lacks the spark of genius I would expect of comedians on a show on par with SNL. Amanda Peet as the president of the network, coming in with the résumé she supposedly has? Not buying it. Bradley Whitford, who was on fire in The West Wing, barely shows a spark in this show (maybe he needed a longer break before going back to series television). And would anyone really expect to see the second episode's supposed "cold open" on SNL or MADtv? They really lost me there. It seems the problem with creating a show about a show is that you either need to never see the actual show, or you'd better be able to deliver an SNL-style performance. I don't think even Sorkin's genius dialogue can overcome a premise that is looking very shaky. Are my expectations too high, as a devoted West Wing and Aaron Sorkin fan? I'll keep watching as long as Matthew Perry is as amazing as he is (OK, I'm crushing on him a little), but I am worried. Thanks for what I'm sure will be an astute observation.
Answer: First off, what Saturday Night Live have you been watching lately to hold to such a high standard? (I have seen numerous episodes begin with old-fashioned musical parodies. Some work, many are lame.) But you're not the only one, either by mail or in my own office, who brought to my attention the fact that the sketch wasn't as brilliant as Matt Albie's (the Matthew Perry character) reputation promised. Which is why I agree that it's a good idea that we see as little of the actual show-within-a-show as possible. (Case in point: Keeping the actual "Crazy Christians" sketch off camera. It already served its purpose.) I would respectfully disagree with your disdain for the overall ensemble work (sparing Matthew Perry, who indeed is terrific). I think they're doing fine, and Sarah Paulson in particular is playing someone I've never seen before: a Christian comedian with a spine and a sense of humor. My one caveat has always been Amanda Peet's characterization. They've got a ways to go to flesh her out. To answer your question directly: I am confident Studio 60 will survive. Its ratings aren't through the roof, but the demographics are great, and there's no reason to fret — as long as we give it some breathing room and sit back and enjoy it for a bit before worrying it to death.