Sunday, July 31, 2011

New Poll - Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama

This is the third of this year’s Emmy Polls and I hope that I get a better response for this one than I did for the previous two.


As usual, please vote for the actress that you think should win the Emmy in this category, not necessarily the one that you think will win it. Please feel free to comment on why you are voting the way that you are voting. If nothing else it will make a big change from dealing with comment spam about Viagra or the financial scheme du jour. If you comment I’ll run them, and I promise to be gentle when I tell you why you’re wrong. Winking smile


Deadline for this poll is Saturday August 6th at 12 Noon (or later depending on how busy I am next week – hopefully not as busy as I’ve been these past two Saturdays).

Poll Results – Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy

jim-parsons_lLate again. I spent most of Saturday dealing with some outdoor gardening type things, mainly cutting down a lot of trees that have grown along my fences without my wanting them there (well actually my brother did the cutting I did the dumping into an industrial sized garbage bin). For the record I really hate doing outdoor gardening type things even as I recognize that such activities are part of the price of home ownership.

It did keep me from getting this done and also from working on another article that I’ve been writing. This poll was even more disappointing in terms of voter turn-out than the previous poll for the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy. Just four votes were cast and not to keep you in suspense, they all went to Jim Parsons from The Big Bang Theory.

I personally think that Parsons is an excellent choice, though I would have put some consideration in for his co-star Johnny Galecki. While Parsons as Sheldon is clearly the comedy highlight of the show, Galecki as Leonard is a great straight man for Parsons – and most of the rest of the cast – to work off of. And, unlike the case with Two And A Half Men where Jon Cryer has always been relegated (unfairly in my opinion) to the Supporting Actor category while Charlie Sheen was always submitted in the Best Actor category, in this case the people who were in charge of submitting names to the Academy realised that his part was just as important as Parsons’s. Clearly the Academy also chose to recognise Galecki’s work. I still think however that Parsons delivers the funniest performance of any on this show.

All of that being said, and even recognizing that as last year’s winner Jim Parson’s has a definite edge over most of the other nominees in the category, I am not entirely convinced that he will win. This is Steve Carell’s last nomination for playing Michael Scott on The Office. He’s been nominated five times in the past and hasn’t won an Emmy. Admittedly most of those losses were to Alec Baldwin for his work on 30 Rock who is also nominated again this year, but still the failure to recognize Carell has to be a major failing with the Academy. Depending on how sentimental the voters are towards Carell, and how much they want to rectify this omission, I think there is a distinct possibility that Carell will win the Emmy this year.

New Poll up in a few minutes.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New Poll - Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy

This is the second of the 2011 Emmy Polls, and the category is Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy. I’m a little bit late with this but I’ve had a busy day and I wasn’t at the computer most of the day.

Just to go over the rules again, please vote for the actor that you think should win the Emmy rather than the one you think will win, assuming that the two are different. I will be running any comments that I get on this and any other category with the results posts, so please free me from the purveyors of comment spam (who are targeting older posts now – it’s all about getting your name and sites prominent for searches of course) with comments that I can actually print and debate about.

Deadline for this poll is Saturday July 30th at Noon (or thereabouts, depending on how busy I am next Saturday).

Poll Results - Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy

poehler2So we have the first poll results for the Emmy Polls and as is usual we have a low turnout. In this case that means five votes which is six fewer votes that we had in 2010 and exactly the same as we had in 2009. That’s about where the similarity ends however. In 2009 those five votes were spread amongst four different nominees, while in 2010 the eleven votes were spread between five nominees. This time around the vote was split two ways

Receiving no votes this year were last year’s winner Edie Falco from Nurse Jackie, Melissa McCarthy from Mike & Molly, Martha Plimpton from Raising Hope, and three time winner Tina Fey from 30 Rock. In second place, with two votes (40%) is Laura Linney from The Big C. But the winner in this poll is the same person who won it last year, Amy Poehler from Parks And Recreation with three votes (60%).

We had no comments on this poll, so I’m going to have to make a comment based on my own personal sense of the matter. Which is a problem since I haven’t seen any of the performances in this category. I’ll say it right here: I don’t know who should win. I know that a lot of people that I respect like Amy Poehler and Parks & Recreation in general. They also seem to think that Martha Plimpton has done a great job on Raising Hope. But alas I don’t think either one of them will win. After Edie Falco’s win for Nurse Jackie last year, which a lot of people still don’t regard as a comedy I’m pretty much convinced that the Academy is looking for darker comedy. I think the winner is going to be Laura Linney. She’s one of the best actresses around in both comedy and drama and she is a multiple Emmy winner. As far as dark subject matter, I don’t think you can get much darker than a show about a woman with terminal melinoma. The writing is sharp and Linney is, as always, a brilliant performer. Or at least that’s what critics such as Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times and Hank Stuever of the Washington Post have written. I wouldn’t know, but I think that a win for Linney would fit the Academy’s tastes.

New Poll up in a few minutes.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

New Poll – Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy

Here’s the first poll in the 2011 series of Emmy Polls. There are nine weeks before the awards are given out on September 18th, and there are seven categories I want to cover. Past experience has indicated that the best results are delivered when I have seven day deadlines for the polls, which leaves me with an extra two weeks. So, I could either extend the deadlines for the Outstanding Comedy and Drama categories or I could come up with something else. What I think I’ll do is come up with two extra polls – Worst Nomination and Most Egregious Omission.

The rules – such as they are for these polls – are simple. Vote for the show that you think should win, rather than the show that you think will win. I will be running and answering comments for these polls so if you have something to say about an actress in this category – why their performance is deserving of a win or why one or more of them shouldn’t be on the list (or maybe even employed) – put it in the comments. I’ll publish them and quite probably respond. Deadline for this poll is July 23 at Noon.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

2011 Emmy Award Nominations

emmysIt’s that time of the summer when television begins the final stage of the process to honour itself. The nominations for the 2010-11 Emmys were announced Thursday. Around here this means Emmy polls will be forthcoming once I figure out how much time I have to get the polls up and running. Cable, and in particular premium cable, dominated the Drama categories while broadcast networks dominated the Comedy and reality categories. The made for TV movie and miniseries categories were fully merged and dominated by cable channels, the only exception being for PBS where Downton Abbey and the new version of Upstairs Downstairs got nominations. There are some notable absences from the nominees, the most notable being that last year’s Outstanding Leading Actress In A Drama, Kyra Sedgwick was ignored in that category. As always there are things to say about a nominations process that seems to totally ignore certain networks and genres, but for right now lets take a look at the nominations for the major categories. (Last year’s winner in bold, when nominated.)

Outstanding Drama Series

Boardwalk Empire – HBO
Dexter – Showtime
Friday Night Lights – DirectTV/NBC
Game Of Thrones – HBO
The Good Wife – CBS
Mad Men – AMC

Usually when a previous season’s winner is nominated in just about any category it automatically becomes the favourite to win the next season. That’s what happened with Mad Men last year, and the year before. This time around I’m not so sure. I think that show is one of the favourites, but not necessarily the favourite. I think that Boardwalk Empire has a legitimate shot at the Emmy as well. I’m not so sure about Game of Thrones. It’s a contender, but are they going to vote for this fantasy series, even if it is telling an epic story. The rest, including Friday Night Lights should be happy with the nomination. If I were to call it right now I’d say that Boardwalk Empire is likely to take it.
Egregious Omission: I really can’t think of any. I could and probably should say Fringe, but let’s face it, you could say Fringe in just about every category that it’s eligible for and it gets frustrating. I will say it in other categories though This was a very week year for new network shows and even some of the cable series didn’t fare well. I’ve heard good things about Terriers (but I haven’t seen it) but are Emmy nomination committees – or however it’s being done this year – really going to nominate a cancelled series; I think the answer is no, which also precludes my favourite new series of the year The Chicago Code.

Outstanding Comedy Series

The Big Bang Theory – CBS
Glee – FOX
Modern Family – ABC
The Office – NBC
Parks and Recreation – NBC
30 Rock – NBC

The one major category where the broadcast networks not only outnumbered the cable channels, they shut them out. This has the potential of being a real dogfight, although last year’s Emmy win gives Modern Family a huge advantage. I’ve heard that Glee is slipping and that The Office is nowhere near as good as it once was. Of course the only one of these shows that I watch on a regular basis is The Big Bang Theory so I’m not really in a position to judge. I think it may come down to Big Bang Theory, Modern Family and 30 Rock.
Egregious Omission: Two in fact. First up FOX’s Raising Hope. Not exactly my cup of Earl Grey but there are people that I respect who like it, and it is the most successful FOX live-action half-hour sitcom (see how I structured that to get around Glee?) The show picked up a couple of other nominations so it’s not a total loss, but still. The other missing show is Hot In Cleveland. Yes, Betty White got a nomination but here’s a secret, the show is more than Betty. It features sitcom royalty: Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendy Malick. And yet neither they notr the series get any recognition.

Outstanding Reality-Competition Series

The Amazing Race – CBS
American Idol – FOX
Dancing With The Stars – ABC
Project Runway – Lifetime
So You Think You Can Dance – FOX
Top Chef – Bravo

I love The Amazing Race, but last year’s loss to Top Chef may have opened the flood gates. The two series of the show that aired in the 2010-11 season weren’t the best that the show had to offer. Depending on which season was submitted Dancing With The Stars certainly had drama and fun.
Egregious Omission: Survivor. I’m specifically thinking of the Redemption Island season, also known as the Coronation of Boston Rob. In all honesty I don’t know what the Emmy voters have against Survivor. The show hasn’t been nominated in this category since 2006, and of course it has never won the Emmy

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Stephen Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire – HBO
Michael C. Hall, Dexter – Showtime
Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights – DirectTV/NBC
Hugh Laurie, House – FOX
Timothy Olyphant, Justified – FX
Jon Hamm, Mad Men – AMC

Last year’s winner, Bryan Cranston is ineligible because Breaking Bad didn’t air new episodes during the eligibility period for the 2011 Emmys. This gives Jon Hamm a real shot at the award. The problem is that he’s up against Steve Buscemi in a very showy role for HBO. Timothy Olyphant also has to be considered a contender in the category (although again, it’s not a show I get to see; then again neither is Boardwalk Empire). I lean towards Hamm for just that reason, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Buscemi take it. For the rest, remember it’s an honour just to be nominated.
Egregious Omission: None that I can think of. I really liked Jason Clarke in The Chicago Code but he was totally eclipsed by Delroy Lindo as Ronin Gibbons, and the Gibbons role was really a supporting part so where does that leave Clarke? And of course the show only lasted half a season. Donal Logue in Terriers – which people tell me was a great performance) is in the same boat.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Connie Briton, Friday Night Lights – DirectTV/NBC
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife – CBS
Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law – NBC
Mireille Enos, The Killing – AMC
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU – NBC
Elizabeth Moss, Mad Men – AMC

Last year’s winner Kyra Sedgwick wasn’t nominated and that has to be seen as an upset right there. There are two previous winners in the category, Margulies and Hargitay, and I think of the two Hargitay had the best season. Elizabeth Moss is finally nominated in the category that she deserves to be in for the growth of her role in Mad Men but I’m afraid Emmy voters might still see hers as a supporting part. I think Kathy Bates is being nominated primarily on her name and that Oscar she won. I didn’t watch the show but she’s playing a typically quirky David E. Kelly character. The wild card here is really Mireille Enos from The Killing. Again, I haven’t seen it but those very same people that I respect in other categories say that this is a major performance. I’m betting on Margulies, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Enos won it.
Egregious Omission: What the hell does Anna Torv have to do to get an Emmy nomination. This season she played a dual role as Olivia Dunham and her alternate reality counterpart “Fauxlivia.” Fauxlivia was also playing Olivia, while Olivia believed herself to be Fauxlivia (having been brainwashed by “Walternate.” And oh yes for a few episodes Torv was playing Leonard Nimoy’s William Bell trapped in Olivia’s body. That has to take some serious acting chops to pull off. Oh, and Kyra Sedgwick too.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory – CBS
Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory – CBS
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes – Showtime
Louie C.K., Louie – FX Networks
Steve Carell, The Office – NBC
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock – NBC

Parsons won last year and I don’t see much standing in his way this year.… Oh wait, there’s Steve Carell who is leaving his role as Michael Scott on The Office. You can’t ignore that as reason for voting for someone particularly since Carell has never won the Emmy despite being the lynchpin of what is generally recognised as one of the best comedies on TV. I think the category is going to come down to Parsons vs. Carell with Alec Baldwin as an outsider.
Egregious Omission: Can’t really think of one. It hasn’t been a great year for new comedies with men in leading roles. As part of an ensemble cast yes, but in leading parts? Not really.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Laura Linney, The Big C – Showtime
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly – CBS
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie – Showtime
Amy Poehler, Parks & Recreation – NBC
Martha Plimpton, Raising Hope – FOX
Tina Fey, 30 Rock – NBC

Okay I’m still trying to figure out how Edie Falco won as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy for a show which doesn’t seem to me to be a comedy. Is Nurse Jackie really a comedy? I don’t think she’ll win this year though. I think that the likely winner this year is the great Laura Linney playing a woman dying of cancer in The Big C. It’s another of those shows with a downbeat subject matter but it works as a comedy.
Egregious Omission: No idea. That shows you how much comedy I watch.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones – HBO
Josh Charles, The Good Wife – CBS
Alan Cummings, The Good Wife – CBS
Walton Goggins, Justified – FX
John Slattery, Mad Men – AMC
Andre Braugher, Men Of A Certain Age – TNT

Last year’s winner, Aaron Paul, isn’t eligible for the same reason that Bryan Cranston wasn’t. The only people from broadcast TV are Charles and Cummings from The Good Wife, which I don’t watch. The only nominee in this category that I have seen is John Slattery in Mad Men and while it’s a good part I don’t see it winning. I can’t give you a name in this one.
Egregious Omission: Chris Noth. The main male character in The Good Wife. He certainly doesn’t fit in the Lead Actor category because the show is focussed on Julianna Margulies’s character but Noth’s character is a major player in the show. Also Delroy Lindo from The Chicago Code simply because he dominated every scene that he was in so completely that it became his show whenever the character appeared, regardless of who he was playing opposite. And then there’s John Noble who not only is playing someone a little bit nutty (not really mad or insane – nutty really is the best adjective to describe Walter) which is hard enough but he also played the ruthlessly Machiavellian alternate version of Walter Bishop. It’s a bravura performance that never gets recognised for being as good as it is.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Kelly Macdonald, Boardwalk Empire – HBO
Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife – CBS
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife – CBS
Margo Martindale, Justified – FX
Michelle Forbes, The Killing – AMC
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men – AMC

Interesting category. Panjabi has had a lot to do this season, and the incumbent position is never a bad one to have. Michelle Forbes’s role in The Killing is a powerful one, while Kelly Macdonald’s role as Nucky’s mistress Margaret Schroeder is close to being a lead role. Does Elizabeth Moss moving up to the Lead Actress category help Christina Hendricks by eliminating vote-splitting. And yes, Christine Baranski is never bad. If anyone is going to beat Panjabi it’s probably going to be Michelle Forbes….or maybe Kelly Macdonald….or Christina Hendricks.
Egregious Omission: None that I can think of.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Chris Colfer, Glee – FOX
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family – ABC
Ed O’Neill, Modern Family – ABC
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family – ABC
Ty Burrell, Modern Family – ABC
Jon Cryer, Two And A Half Men – CBS

I’m just guessing here, but I suspect that the winner in this category will probably come from Modern Family. Stonestreet has a leg up having won last year but if I wer to pick one of the other actors I’d tip towards Ty Burrell. Interesting that perpetual nominee Neil Patrick Harris isn’t nominated in the category. Not an egregious omission but you could easily dump Jon Cryer as far as I’m concerned.
Egregious Omission: Not really an egregious omission but either of Simon Helberg or Kunal Nayyar could find a place in this category.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Jane Lynch, Glee – FOX
Betty White, Hot In Cleveland – TVLand
Julie Bowen, Modern Family – ABC
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family – ABC
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live – NBC
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock – NBC

Jane Lynch is hosting the awards this year, and the “incumbent” theory suggests that she has an advantage here. The problem is that I’ve heard that Glee isn’t as strong as it was and that the Sue Sylvester character can wear on you. I know that Sofia Vergara and Julie Bowen are both very funny, but they run into the whole problem of vote splitting. The interesting nomination here is Betty White. She’s much beloved in the industry and her character is extremely funny. In an ensemble cast she stands out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Betty White take this one.
Egregious Omission: Three, and none are from Hot In Cleveland. The first is Kaley Cuoco from The Big Bang Theory, though her role is so big and essential to the plot that she might deserve a Lead Actress nomination. Admittedly she plays the straight role to Parsons and Galecki but that’s a talent in itself. Also from Big Bang is Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler who has been an amazing addition to the show’s cast as Leonard’s girl friend (a friend who’s a girl; no coitus). Her character, the female version of Leonard who wants to be Penny’s “bestie” is something that is hard to pull off. Finally there’s Cougar Town’s Busy Philipps. By turns the character is clueless and wise. There’s something about the character that really works for me.

Outstanding Reality-Competition Host

Phil Keopghan, The Amazing Race – CBS
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol – FOX
Tom Bergeron, Dancing With The Stars – ABC
Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance – FOX
Jeff Probst, Survivor – CBS

Probst won last  year and is definitely the favourite for this year in spite of what many feel is a certain sycophancy towards Boston Rob. My personal favourite in this category is Phil Keoghan who has a harder job than Probst in that he has to keep ahead of the racers and sometimes do the activity that they’re doing. Still, the host with the hardest job of all is Tom Bergeron. Not only is he introducing contestants but he is doing a lot more live television than someone like Seacrest is doing. He’s had to react to a lot more situations than Seacrest has as well, including contestants fainting, injuries and wardrobe malfunctions. Probst will probably win, but there’s something to be said for Bergeron getting it.
Egregious Omission: None I can think of. Heidi Klum? Padma Lakshme? Ho hum.

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series

Bruce Dern, Big Love, HBO
Beau Bridges, Brothers & Sisters – ABC
Michael J. Fox, The Good Wife – CBS
Paul McCrane, Harry’s Law – NBC
Jeremy Davis, Justified – FX
Robert Morse, Mad Men – AMC

I know some of the actors in the category including McCrane, Fox and Morse but I haven’t seen shows so I don’t really want to offer an opinion.
Egregious Omission: Two from Fringe – Leonard Nimoy (or at least his voice since he’s playing an animated character in Olivia’s mind), and Christopher Lloyd as Walter’s favourite musician.

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series

Mary McDonnell, The Closer – TNT
Julia Stiles, Dexter – Showtime
Loretta Devine, Grey’s Anatomy – ABC
Randee Heller, Mad Men – AMC
Cara Buono, Mad Men – AMC
Joan Cusack, Shameless – Showtime
Alfre Woodard, True Blood – HBO

No real opinion.

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

Idris Elba, The Big C – Showtime
Nathan Lane, Modern Family – ABC
Zach Galfianakis, Saturday Night Live – NBC
Justin Timberlake, Saturday Night Live – NBC
Matt Damon, 30 Rock – NBC
Will Arnett, 30 Rock – NBC

I’ve only seen Nathan Lane’s bit on Modern Family, which I liked.
Egregious omission: Nothing really. I loved George Takei’s cameo appearance on The Big Bang Theory (and this also applies to Katie Sackoff’s appearance in the same episode) but it’s too damned short, and there’s really no way to make it more than what it is.)

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Kristin Chenoweth, Glee – FOX
Dot-Marie Jones, Glee – FOX
Gwyneth Paltrow, Glee – FOX
Cloris Leachman, Raising Hope – FOX
Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live – NBC
Elizabeth Banks, 30 Rock – NBC

Opinion no.

The 63rd Annual Emmy Awards will air on FOX on September 18th.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Studio 60 Remembered - The Cold Open

MNTVSThe second episode of almost every new TV series sees a drop in viewership. It may be small or it may be huge, but the point is that it does happen. Studio 60 took a drop in the ratings. They went from 13.14 million viewers and a 5.0 in the 18-49 demographic to 10.82 million viewers and a 4.4 in the demographic. Moreover the critics who had raved about the Pilot pulled out their knives after the second episode. There were some strongly worded criticisms and in some cases some absurd statements were made by people who really should have known better.

The episode opens at the press conference introducing Jordan to the media, and incidentally formally announcing Matt and Danny the new Executive Producers of the fictional Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip. Jordan is fielding questions about her programming philosophy as the new network head. She says that she has three criteria for new programming: “Do I like it. Would my parents like it. If I had kids would I want them to watch it.” If the answer to any one of those questions is “Yes” she’d put it on, if the answer to all of them was “No” she wouldn’t have the show on the network. She deflects a question about Wes’s rant with a little humour before saying that she refuses to comment on an internal matter. Backstage Matt and Danny are waiting to be introduced. Matt is irritated at Danny for sending him home for the weekend where he slept for 28 hours. Matt thinks that that’s time he could have been writing. Moreover Matt is angry that Danny sent Jeannie, one of the cast members home with him to make sure that he was okay. Matt and Jeannie have a sort of “friends with benefits” thing going on when they aren’t involved with anybody else, but Harriet doesn’t know about them, and this seems to matter to him. Matt’s also worried about the reception their hiring is going to get from the public. He heard a caller from Tolucca Lake describe them as “Barbra Streisand loving, Michael Moore worshipping jackasses.” Danny tells him not to pay attention to it. Then with a big build-up about how they’re going to restore Studio 60 to it’s past glory Jordan introduces Matt and Danny.

At the studio Cal has put the live feed of the news conference onto the studio’s internal system and we see the reaction of various people to the appearance of Matt and Danny. Jeannie (Ayda Field) comes into Harriet’s dressing room. It is clear that they are friends, and also that Jeannie hasn’t had the career that Harriet has: when Harriet says “I want my body to look like yours,” Jeannie replies “I want my talent to look like yours.” In an office off the Writers’ Room co-Executive Producers Ricky Tahoe (Evan Handler) and Ron Oswald (Carlos Jacott) are also watching the live feed. Ricky is by far the most vocal of the pair; he calls it “the most humiliating day of my life.” Matt makes it clear in the press conference that he’ll be overseeing the writing which leads one of the writers to ask if Matt will be overseeing the writing or doing the writing; they’ve all heard stories about how it was when he was with the show. Ricky responds, “I don’t know. I’m just Matt’s butt-boy right now.”

At the news conference a reporter asks why they’ve abandoned the movie project they were planning on doing to come back to the show. Matt starts to give a standard pat answer when Danny interrupts and tells them all about his drug test and how he won’t be able to direct for a couple of  years. This gets Jack Rudolph, who has been watching in his office, to come down. More is to come. A reporter for Rapture Magazine asks about a sketch called “Crazy Christians.” Matt confirms that he wrote a sketch called “Crazy Christians” four years ago but it never aired. The reporter then asks if they can expect to see the sketch on Friday’s show. Matt starts to reply that he doesn’t know what’s going to be on the show yet but Danny jumps in and tells her, yes it will be on the show. With that the press conference ends and Shelly herds all of them off stage. Away from the public everyone is shouting at everyone else until Jack Rudolph gets out of the elevator. He stops them from cross-talking with each other. First he wants to know why Danny didn’t stick with the planned answer to why they were coming back to the show. Danny explains that it was going to get out anyway and revealing it this way was not only better than having it come out in drips, but being honest about it was also best for him as a recovering addict. He then turns on Jordan the joke she used handled a question about whether she knew about Danny’s drug test (“I don’t remember. I was high at the time.”), but Jordan is more concerned with why a reporter from Rapture Magazine was accredited to the news conference. Shelly angrily responds that it isn’t NBS policy to exclude religious publications from the network’s press conference, and when Jordan asks “how many whackjobs actually read Rapture Magazine” she reveals that the circulation is four times that of Vanity Fair, a statement that comes as a surprise to just about everyone else, including Jack. As the others leave Danny asks Jordan about her introduction for them, specifically the part about restoring the show to its former glory as the flagship of the network. He thinks that’s setting the bar rather high. She tell him, “Clear it.”

By the time they get to the theater Matt is trying to figure out how to clear the bar that Jordan had set. They need a big “cold open” for the show but he doesn’t know what it’s going to be. There are other details to work out, most importantly which one of them will take Wes’s office. Neither one of them wants it, but it’s obvious that Matt is going to get it whether he wants it or not. Matt reveres Wes, who wrote for the Smothers Brother and wrote with Pryor and with Cosby, invented Studio 60, and gave him his first job in television. He says “I rather sit in Lorne Michael’s office,” to which Danny responds “Lorne’s office is in New York and he’s still using it.” The office is a mess – it looks as though it had been ransacked, but one feature catches Danny’s eye as being new since they left. It’s a digital clock. when Danny turns it on it shows the days, hours, minutes and seconds left until the next show. Matt says, “No wonder he [Wes] went crazy.”

Matt has to go meet with the writing staff while Danny is going to talk to the cast. Matt doesn’t know any of the staff; they’ve all been hired by Ricky and Ron. Danny goes in for a moment as well to “put them at ease,” although he has an unusual way of doing it.What he says is more of an ultimatum than a pep talk: “This isn't TV camp. It's not important that everybody plays. Come at Matt with good ideas and you'll be a big part of the show; don't and it won't matter because he won't remember your name.” With that he leaves.

The cast are waiting for Danny in the basement dressing rooms. Tom is reading a post on from Bernadette of Bernadette’s Blog which says, “Studio 60 seldom rose to the level of Saturday Night Live at its best. The hiring of Matthew Albie and Daniel Tripp is a sideshow and that Wes's courageous and eloquent sign off last week should have served as the final nail in the show's coughin [sic – that’s how Bernadette spelled it according to Tom].” Simon tells Tom to stop reading the Internet and describes Bernadette as writing this in her pyjamas, with a freezer full of Jenny Craig and surrounded by her five cats. Tom responds that he has to care about Bernadette’s Blog because she’ll be be quoted by the New York Times to show that they’re listening to the public and aren’t part of the media elite. Tom says that he prefers it when they were part of the media elite. The conversation turns to Matt’s back. Simon has had the same surgery and is certain that Matt won’t be able to write the show. According to Simon you aren’t supposed to move around for a week and a half, and you certainly can’t sit in a chair for fourteen hours, which Harriet says is a short day for Matt. Jeannie tells them not to worry, Matt is doing forty leg lifts with 30 pound weights which Simon finds difficult to believe; he couldn’t tie his shoes so soon after his operation. Just then Danny comes in. His speech to the cast is about as diplomatic as his speech to the writers.He’s talked to them all and he’s sure that they’re probably worried about the changes he and Matt might make and whether they’ll be still be with the show . When Tom says not until just now, Danny says, well you should have. “Don't give me your very best or pick this week to complain about something you're going to make these decisions very easy.” Matt won’t be writing the first show around guest host Mark Wahlberg, and because he doesn’t know many of the cast he’ll be writing for the people he knows so they need to be patient…and become one of the people he knows. Simon asks about Matt’s back; he practically had to have an epidural to get out of bed when he had the surgery and Matt is claiming to be doing forty leg lifts. Jeannie says he isn’t claiming to do them she saw him doing it. Harriet is surprised: “Matt. At a gym?!” to which Jeannie responds, “No, at his house. he bought a machine.” That’s when the penny drops for Harriet and she realises that Matt and Jeannie have been involved. The room becomes so quiet that you can hear the noises made by building’s ventilation system. Harriet asks to be excused which Danny allows; when Jeannie wants to go after her, Danny refuses to let her go. Just as Danny is leaving, Simon asks him if he had seen the first show of the season. Danny replied that he hadn’t seen the show yet. There was a definite sense of tension in this exchange.

In the Writers’ Room Matt is becoming increasingly frustrated. The Room keeps proposing sketch ideas of the “Bush is stupid,” “The government gives things names the opposite of what something really is” variety. They aren’t funny and what really proves it is when Ricky explains one of the ideas to Matt – the rule that if you have to explain it it isn’t funny obviously applies double in the Writer’s Room. When Matt mentions that he needs a cold open the room bursts into anarchy with everyone talking at once and no one suggesting anything worthwhile. Matt eventually gets the room under control again and then comes down on the way the writers are dressed. Matt has decided that grown men dressing like they were in Junior High isn’t cool. When Ron says “It’s comedy Matt,” he replies “Not yet it isn’t, and until it is we are all going to act professionally. You understand. We're going to act dress talk write and behave professionally.” At that moment a very pissed off Harriet bursts into the room: “You are an adolescent, oversexed, whore monger with the sensitivity of a head of cabbage.” Matt excuses himself from the room and goes into the hall with Harriet. He makes it absolutely crystal clear that if she ever does that again he will bench, to the point where she’ll be the highest paid extra in Hollywood. Once he has made his point, they argue about what’s really bothering her. He slept with one of the people who works with her, and the way it came out humiliated her. She refers to the show as “my show.” Matt reminds her that it isn’t “her show” and that while she’s been there for seven years, he was there for two years before that and incidentally so was Jeannie. Matt reminds her that she broke up with him, and he’s got the email to prove it. She goes through a list of people he’s supposedly dated since the broke up ranging from Fiona Apple to Marlo Thomas (which is absurd since she’s married to Phil Donahue who can “still beat the crap out of me.”). Matt asks if she got confirmation from the Drudge Report and she says she got confirmation from Jeannie…about Jeannie. Matt tells her not to worry, he doesn’t date or do anything with people who work with him. What’s really really bothering her finally comes out: “I have an active imagination Matthew. They pay me a lot of money for it. And you had to know I was going to find out. So now I have this in my imagination. That's just mean.” She walks away but Matt follows her. He didn’t mean to be mean; Danny sent Jeannie home with him to make sure he was okay, and…it’s obvious that he wants to tell her something but instead he tells here that they need a really good show this week, and the need her head in the game. She tells him to sit down and write.

On Tuesday morning there’s a meeting in Jack’s office with Jack, Shelley, Peter (Scott Klace) from Affiliate Relations and Joe (Mark Edward Smith) from Sales. Jordan arrives. They have a problem; the affiliate owner from the Terre Haute station has been deluged with calls protesting the “Crazy Christians” sketch and he won’t air the show if the sketch runs. Jordan is dismissive, because it is “just” Terre Haute and tells them that she doesn’t tell “the guys” what they can and can’t put on the show. In fact she promised them that they can run the sketch. Terre Haute isn’t the real problem it’s the organized nature of the protests. Clearly it is the work of the editor of Rapture Magazine working through the various “family oriented” religious websites (they mention the AFE which as nearly as I can tell is a fictional organization but seems to be an analog for the Donald Wildmon’s American Family Association). Posting something like this on their forums is like the Batsignal for these people. Jordan asks how bad could it get. Shelly explains that they can expect the phone lines at Studio 60, the network headquarters, and twenty-two Red State affiliates to be flooded within the hour, it will be a news story all week and they’ll probably attack Jordan with personal stuff. Jordan’s willing to accept that, but Jack’s not sure the advertisers will feel the same way. Jordan feels that she’s bullet proof on Friday nights because half of the advertisers on the night are movie studios that release on Friday nights and want their movies associated with what’s hip and cool. As long as she delivers eyeballs she’s fine. Joe can’t believe her naiveté. Without the affiliates there aren’t going to be any eyeballs. If the big affiliate groups pull their stations NBS will be reduced to their owned and operated stations and whatever affiliates stick with them, or as Jack puts it “We'll be reduced to the size of a college radio station.” He practically begs Jordan to tell Matt and Danny to pull the sketch. She refuses: “I am the president of the National Broadcasting System and I won't be told what to put on my air by amateurs of any stripe.” With that she leaves.

Over at the studio, Danny is meeting with Cal and the technical staff. There’s nothing for them to do because Matt hasn’t written anything so all of the trades are on standby for when Matt does give them something to do. The meeting breaks up and Danny starts upstairs to his office. As he is halfway up the stairs his assistant Jane arrives to tell him that Jack White has severe tonsillitis. It takes Danny a couple of beats to realize that Jack White is the lead singer for the White Stripes… the show’s musical guest. He turns back and tells Jane to get in touch with anyone who isn’t touring or dead.

Upstairs Danny runs into Simon. He asks what the whole thing about whether he’d seen the first episode of the season was all about; Simon knows that Danny hasn’t watched the show since he and Matt left. Was Simon trying to embarrass him or make a point? Simon tells him that he would never try to embarrass Danny but the whole business with the drug test was new information. He thinks that Danny is spending two years “slumming” on TV. Danny tells him that it doesn’t matter, he’s here now and what matters is that if they hadn’t come Ricky and Ron would get the show but Simon replies that Danny left them with Ricky and Ron. Danny tells him that he was standing beside Matt and where was Simon. He responds that he was standing beside the show.

Danny goes into Matt’s office followed by Simon. According to “The Clock” there’s 3 Days, 7 Hours, and 22 minutes left until Friday’s show. Matt is standing in front of the line-up board. The only thing on it is the monologue and the two musical numbers from The White Stripes. Matt wonders if the White Stripes would mind playing for the whole hour and a half. Danny breaks the news that they won’t be playing at all. Just then Tom comes into the office wearing a wig, painted on moustache and soul patch. He’s heard that Matt is choking and is there to pitch an idea that for a sketch with him and Harriet as Jack and Meg White. Then Cal comes in to tell Matt not to “grip it too tightly;” it’s only Tuesday. Matt tells the four of them how he lectured the writers on clothing. He couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of his mouth. He also explains the trouble he’s having with the cold open for the show. Unless something big happens between Tuesday and Friday they’re going to have people’s attention for the open. The problem is that there are so many things that it has to cover. It has to be self-deprecating, an acknowledgement and an acceptance, It has to be on a grand scale. It needs to be a song but not just a song, something bigger. Tom says “We take the show seriously but we don’t take ourselves seriously. We screwed up but we won’t do it again.” The Cal says, “We’ll be model citizens.” You can see the inspiration coming to Matt’s face. He asks the guys if they knew who did the greatest “Frat Humor” of all time. Tom mentions Rudy Vallee, Cal says Groucho Marx, but Danny says W.S. Gilbert. Danny comes up with the first line: “We’ll be the very model of a modern network TV show.” Simon follows with, “We hope that you don’t mind that our producer was caught doing Blow.” After a moment they agree to the line. Matt then says that they need something that speaks to the legacy of Television, in the style of Arturo Toscinini and the NBC Orchestra. Danny runs out the door to call to his assistant Jane. She’s on the phone with Clay Aiken’s manager. Danny tells her to get John Mauceri and the West Coast Philharmonic, and also the Los Angeles Light Opera Chorus. Jane asks if this is a joke; Matt says he hopes so, but Danny says no. Cal goes off to get the production people working, while Danny tells Simon and Tom to get a change of clothes and their shaving kits – it’s going to be just them this week (an indication that the writer’s room isn’t going to be involved in the writing). Tom asks, “Harriet too?” Matt replies “Harriet too.”

It’s now Friday night. Outside the theater a reporter is doing a stand-up. According to her the police estimate that 200-300 protesters are gathered many of them carrying signs saying “NBS equals God-haters.” (From what we the audience can see the number can be counted in the dozens rather than the hundreds, but that may be as much a statement about the size of TV show budgets as it is about TV news hyperbole – though I personally prefer to think the latter rather than the former). This sets the scene for what’s going on inside the theater as the show prepares to go live. Matt wants to take a quick shower. It’s 102 degrees out and he’s worried that the crowd will be too hot. They go into Matts office and we can see that the board, barren on Tuesday, now has eighteen items on it, not counting guest Mark Wahlberg’s monologue and the good nights at the end of the show. Matt says, “In an hour and a half it'll be empty again.” The statement astonishes Danny: “Would you just enjoy the moment? Would please just live in what's happening right now and not time travel to the next...?” They’ve had the greatest dress rehearsal that either of them can remember seeing in the show. Things are going to go great. He does need to talk about one thing with Matt and that’s how things are between him and Harriet. Danny feels they’ll be in trouble if Matt is still in love with Harriet. Matt says he’s not: “I love her talent. The woman's got millions of fans but there are maybe fifty guys in town who really understand how good she is and we're two of them. I admire her. I'm knocked out by her talent. And I like it when she makes me laugh, and I like making her laugh, which isn't easy to do, so it's gratifying. She's undeniably sexy. I like it when she smiles at me, and a couple of other things, but that's it.” Danny says, “We’re screwed.”

In the dressing room Jeannie finally talks to Harriet about the situation with Matt. She apologizes for the way that it came out. She and Matt are friends but sometimes when they’re without anybody they wind up with each other. Harriet hits her over the head with a prop bottle, then smiles and says “Light’em up Jeannie with the light brown hair.” Elsewhere Danny meets up with Simon. He explains that at the start of Simon’s second year, which was Danny’s last year, Simon had lost a part in Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday to Jamie Foxx. He had been pissed at just about everyone, and said, “I just graduated from Yale Drama. I don't belong here,” which pissed Danny off because he did belong there. Now Simon says that he belong there, and says “So don’t fire me.” Simon explains that he can’t “do the voices;” Ricky and Ron have been pushing Simon to do imitations and gives a bad version of Bill Cosby saying “Jell-o Pudding Pops.” Danny doesn’t understand, how did Wes let Ricky and Ron take over the show but Simon defends him, explaining that Wes was tired, and Matt and Danny were like sons to him, and he didn’t stand up for them. Danny simply says, “We didn’t ask him too.” Danny promises that they’re going to be starting fresh and they’ll be playing to Simon’s strengths including having him anchor the news on the show.

Jack is in the VIP gallery of the theater getting a beer. He sees Jordan goes over to sit with her. He makes his presence known by saying, “Mary, you’ve got spunk,” then they both say “I hate spunk.” It was his way of reminding her that he likes television too. She asks what the final count was. They lost five affiliates including Terre Haute, four local advertisers and three national advertisers. And Jack had to change his email address… twice. “But,” says Jordan, “Frogs didn’t fall from the sky.” Jack tells her that if the ratings don’t go up or the public doesn’t find Crazy Christians as funny as she does things are going to happen that will make frogs falling from the skies seem like Club Med. He adds, “They always win Jordan.” She replies that that may be true but she’s not going down without a fight. And if the ratings do go up they’ll welcome back the advertisers who left them, at 120% of the original ad buy. “We’ll be the first network to charge a coward fee.”

Backstage, Matt and Danny gather the cast. Danny tells him that he’s watched them all week and he’s really impressed. Matt tells him that it’s hot outside and people who are hot don’t laugh as much because they’re sticky and uncomfortable. Then it’s Harriet’s turn to lead them in prayer: “Blessed are you oh Lord our God creator of the universe and Father of us all. Thank you for giving us one of your greatest gifts, a sense of humour. And if you have time please make something heavy fall on Matthew's head. We say this prayer in the name of your son Jesus Christ who had to have been funny to get so many people to listen to him. Blessed are you forever and ever, Amen.” Then just before she goes out on stage she asks Matt why she got a laugh in the table read of a sketch but not at the dress rehearsal. He tells her that in the dress, “You asked for the laugh;” in the table read, “You asked for the butter.”

After everyone takes their places, including Danny in a director’s chair on the floor in front of the stage and Matt in his office, The Clock counts down the seconds before the show starts, with a parody song based on Gilbert and Sullivan’s Modern Major General:
We'll be the very model of a modern network tv show
Each time that we walk into this august and famous studio
We're starting out from scratch after a run of 20 years and so
We hope that you don't mind that our producer was caught doing blow

They hope that you don't mind that their producer was caught doing blow
They hope that you don't mind that their producer was caught doing blow
They hope that you don't mind that their producer was caught doing lots of blow!

Men (Simon, Tom, Dylan, and Alex):
Yes it's hard to be a player when at heart you've always had a hunch
To bite the hand that feeds you is a scary way of doing much
But still when we walk into this august and famous studio
We'll be the very model of a modern network TV show!

But still when they walk into this august and famous studio
They'll be the very model of a modern network TV show!

I am a Christian, tried and true, baptized at age eleven so
Unlike the lib'rals, gays and Jews, I'm going straight to heaven.

Ladies (Harriet, Jeannie, Samantha):
But if you feel you've been cheated and our sordid content lets you down
We'll happ'ly do the favor of an intellectual reach around!
They'll happ'ly do the favor of an intellectual reach around
They'll happ'ly do the favor of an intellectual reach around
They'll happ'ly do the favor of a hundred-dollar hooker's reach around!

Harriet (whispers):
That wasn't the same thing we said.

They'll happ'ly do the favor of a verbal euphamistic reach around!

Studio 60 Cast:
We know the evangelicals are lining up to tag our toe
And then the corporations will not hesitate to pull their dough
But still when we walk into this august and famous studio
We'll be the very model of a modern network TV show!

But still when they walk into this august and famous studio
They'll be the very model of a modern network TV show!
But still when they walk into this august and famous studio
They'll be the very model of a modern network TV show!

As announcer Herb Shelton announces “Live from Hollywood, It’s Studio 60 on The Sunset Strip.” Matt turns away from the stage and looks at The Clock. It has started counting backwards from seven days again.


One of the things that a lot of critics and other people had trouble with is that we didn’t see the “Crazy Christians” sketch. We heard a lot about it, or at least heard its name bandied about a lot but we didn’t see the sketch or see or hear the rehearsals or the script or even learn anything about the content of the script. It was just a name. Some people, mostly commenters on media blogs – I think Alan Sepinwall’s blog was one of them – invoked Chekov’s gun when referring to “Crazy Christians.” As you may recall Chekov said that, “if you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there.” In their minds “Crazy Christians” was built up as being a brilliant piece of writing (or as being so controversial) to such a point that you had to see it. I don’t think it was necessary to show it. In fact I think that “Crazy Christians” accomplishes its purpose best by not being seen. In a very real way it drives the show, or at least the beginning episodes of the show. Because I don’t think that “Crazy Christians” falls into the category of Chekov’s Gun at all; I think that “Crazy Christians” is a McGuffin, in the best Hitchcockian sense of the term.

Wikipedia describes a McGuffin as “a plot element that catches the viewers' attention or drives the plot of a work of fiction.The defining aspect of a MacGuffin is that the major players in the story are (at least initially) willing to do and sacrifice almost anything to obtain it, regardless of what the MacGuffin actually is. In fact, the specific nature of the MacGuffin may be ambiguous, undefined, generic, left open to interpretation or otherwise completely unimportant to the plot. Common examples are money, victory, glory, survival, a source of power, a potential threat, or it may simply be something entirely unexplained.” (Emphasis mine in both cases.) Hitchcock used McGuffins of course, and they were often unimportant to the story that was being told, serving as a motivator to the action rather than having any importance in their own right. Take for example The Lady Vanishes – one of my favourite Hitchcock movies. All of the action happens because of Miss Froy’s little song, and yet the song itself, and what it signifies, have no importance to the plot of the movie.

“Crazy Christians” fills that role in Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip. It is the reason for Wes’s fight with Jerry in the first episode. It is why Wes has his on screen meltdown. It is emblematic of the way that the writing on the show has slipped and Wes’s weakness. In short it is why Matt and Danny have to be brought back. In the second episode it is symbolic of Jordan’s determination to take bold stands regardless of the opinion of those around her in the quest for a return to quality. That she is willing to air “Crazy Christians” in spite of the threat of viewer boycotts, affiliates refusing to air the show and companies pulling their ads falls squarely into the definition of a McGuffin; she is “willing to do and sacrifice almost anything to obtain it,” or in this case to use it.

“Crazy Christians” It motivates Jordan’s confrontation with Jack and the executives not to mention Shelly, and it becomes Jordan’s line in the sand – this far and no further. And  the sketch was Wes’s breaking point at least twice. He wasn’t willing to stand up for Matt in 2001 when “Crazy Christians” was the sketch for the week that Matt was forced to quit, and it losing the fight with Jerry Wes Jerry on the first show to keep “Crazy Christians” in the show was the what drove him to his rant. “Crazy Christians” led indirectly to Ricky and Ron taking real control of the show leaving Wes as more figurehead than anything else.

“Crazy Christians” also sets up a lot of what follows. I’m thinking particularly of the revelation of Jordan’s DUI in the next episode, followed very quickly by her ex-husband’s proposed book and the stories that he was shopping around. After all Shelly had told Jordan that running the sketch would lead the other side to go after her personally. Another aspect of “Crazy Christians” as McGuffin can be seen in the two "Nevada Day” episodes later in the season. The Judge’s antagonism towards Jack and Danny is in part motivated by the sense that the actor, the show, and the network are making fun of people like him who are sincere in their beliefs. “Crazy Christians” is part of the basis for this antagonism.

There are of course real-world analogies in the “Crazy Christians” storyline, and they are as valid today as they were when Sorkin played with the idea in 2006. I’m not really referring to the decision by KSL in Salt Lake City to drop NBC’s new series The Playboy Club. It is at least understandable given that the station is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This isn’t a case of a station bowing to outside pressure out of fear in the way that the fictional Terre Haute station in the Studio 60 did, but rather a policy decision by station ownership. The more important aspect is the groups that create this climate of fear – the AFE in the show, the Parents Television Council in real life – which mobilize their followers occasionally based entirely on rumour. The PTC demanded that CBS change the name of $#*! My Dad Says and when that failed threatened boycotts and FCC action because “obviously” the show was going to be filled with obscenities. The truth is that the show was just another not particularly well realized sitcom. This year they’ve “slammed” NBC-Comcast for a supposed nudity clause in the contract for actors on The Playboy Club (presumably for possible foreign sales and possibly for inclusion in cable network airings and DVDs), and demanded the removal of the word “Bitch” from the title of the ABC series Good Christian Bitches (which was also the name of the book on which the series is based) despite the fact that ABC had already stated that that was only the working title of the series that became Good Christian Belles. The PTC promised to “use every method at its disposal to turn advertisers and viewers away from a provocative title that compromises respect for both women and Christians in an attempt to draw ratings.”And remember that statement was issued when the only thing known about the series was the working title which ABC had already said would be changed.

I also want to spend a bit of time in this extremely long and overdue piece to discuss the episode’s finally, the parody song Modern Network TV Show. Looking for some unrelated material recently I came upon a blog where the reviewer referred to the song as “a filk,” apparently feeling that any parody song qualifies as a “filk” (they don’t) and that somehow it being a filk makes it is somehow a lesser creation (this particular blogger was angry at Tom and Simon’s comments on bloggers as a class and the song got caught in the crossfire). Parody songs have been a mainstay of comedy for generations. This is no different.

A bigger objection to the song as found in the comments section of Ken Levine’s blog in which various commenters said that you don’t use a Gilbert & Sullivan parody song because it shows “how out of touch and superior the characters considered themselves,” and therefore using it unironically was an indicator of “how out of touch and superior Sorkin is.” I don’t think that I need to tell you that I disagree with this assessment. I liked the song. I like that Sorkin has a fondness for Gilbert & Sullivan. I have a fondness for Gilbert & Sullivan. After all he used “For He Is An Englishman” from HMS Pinafore in an episode of The West Wing, and posters from productions of Gilbert and Sullivan were seen in both The West Wing and Studio 60. But it goes further than that for me. I think that the song works for what it has to be. The show has to regain its status. This is something that Ricky and Ron and the Writers’ Room don’t recognise when they pitch the same old material that they’ve been doing all along. For them it’s just business as usual. Matt recognises that the opening has to be different. as he puts it, it has to be “self-deprecating, an acknowledgement and an acceptance, but it has to be on a grand scale.” The big thing, left unspoken, is that it has to acknowledge what Wes said without referring to him. It has to be an apology for the crap that the show has become and a promise that they’ll restore both the cutting edge comedy and the idea of quality that has vanished from TV. Most of all it has to be a clear indication that they won’t be treating their audience like morons. People who claim that using Gilbert & Sullivan shows “how out of touch and superior Sorkin is,” are themselves being superior by claiming that an audience is incapable of appreciating either Gilbert & Sullivan or the the message that the parody song was trying to put across. I don’t buy it.