October 30, 2006

Impending Studio 60 Cancellation Latest Clue TV Too Dumb

What ever happened to letting good television shows run their course until they faded away and the cast could come out beaming to a series of curtain calls? It seems that with the infrequent exceptions of NYPD Blue, Cheers and Seinfeld, any show worth its salt, which has something resembling intellect and sharp dialogue, can't make it past a single season before a dull, drooling, American public finds it too difficult to comprehend, and in a panic, network executives give it the axe.

It happened with The West Wing. It happened to Law and Order: Trial By Jury. It happened to Conviction just as the show was getting some momentum. And now, it sounds like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is going to be annihilated within weeks. According to Fox News online, cast members of the NBC show featuring Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford have already told friends and family that the show's cancellation is imminent.

In the Gray household, it takes a lot to crack into our TiVo Season Pass list. Given our addictions to the CSI and Law And Order franchise, as well as House, and a variety of late-night comedy shows, we don't have much time to add new shows when they come out, and we absolutely deplore the mindless philandering on reality television and vacuous game shows. Studio 60 immediately made its mark this season and had us looking forward to each episode as it developed.

With many of the characters having become familiar through The West Wing, also run by Aaron Sorkin, the show's give and take and rhythm seemed familiar. The situations were interesting. The dialog was college level, something that looks like a non-starter in today's saccharine world. When Conviction and The West Wing were 2005-06 casualties, I called for a new network to bravely take on these shows to satiate our need for real world conversations and intriguing plots, but the harsh economics of television are too much.

With Studio 60 pulling only half the viewers of the dialog-poor skinfest at CSI Miami, they had no chance of emerging with the #1 position on Monday nights, and will exit a loser, without chance of resuscitation. We're not too happy about it, and we're further disillusioned with the way today's airwaves are going. If it weren't for the serialized cop and lawyer shows, and professional sports, we'd be doing a lot more reading, and even more Web surfing than we do today. But the TV just fell another notch in our eyes. We are not happy with this black box and how it is treating us.

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