Advance word was not good, so I went in to last night with lowered expectations. I expected the second coming of Studio 60, dolphin-impersonation era. I got...pretty much that, with less squeaking.
Briefly, with bullet points, here are my thoughts.
- I was kind of on board with the first third. As cheesy and Sorkin-esque as Jeff Daniels's big speech was at the beginning of the show, at least it was memorable? And not blatantly partisan? And it called to mind Jed Bartlet just a little bit?
- And there were some good moments at work between Daniels and Sam-Waterston-as-Robert-Guillaume-in-Sports-Night.
- But then the news broke. And we got this announcement at the bottom of the screen. THIS SHOW TAKES PLACE IN 2010 AND ALL OF THE NEWS STORIES WILL BE RECYCLED FROM REAL LIFE THUS YOU WILL ALREADY KNOW HOW ALL OF IT TURNS OUT.
- Like, say they really, REALLY wanted to do a vanity oil spill story in which Sorkin could show us all how he would've handled this situation if he were Rupert Murdock, how hard would it have been to just MAKE UP NAMES and CHANGE THE LOCATION OF THE SPILL? The West Wing did that kind of stuff all the time. Because, if most of the tension in your show hinges on the great big oil spill that is happening in the Gulf, you have no tension because we already know the end of the story.
- And maybe I would've been OK with the whole RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES business if there were anything else in the show to hold on to, i.e. sexual tension or interesting characters or a giant wheel of cheese.
- Because that's another thing. The characters on this show (so far, one episode in) are completely dull. I HATE that Daniels and Emily Mortimer (who plays his new/old executive producer) already have a romantic history. Bland. Been there, done that. And that the two guys fighting over the bumbling, dorky girl in the office look almost exactly alike. And that, seemingly, they've given Dev Patel absolutely nothing to do. Why couldn't he have been part of the dorky girl love triangle?
- Also, the crux of Daniels' anchor character hinges on the fact that he was a bland newsman who never made waves. But from the first scene of the show, he's a mouthy jackass. I would've like to have seen some juxtaposition of how his character was "before" with how this new, outspoken man is "after."
- None of this is to say that I won't be back for episode two. Sure I will be, and probably for the episode after that.
Of course, I don't know why I'm so surprised that I was disappointed. The West Wing remains the only Aaron Sorkin TV venture I've really liked. I hated Studio 60 (after the pilot). And I think Sports Nightis one of the most over-praised, overrated television shows of our time. There. I said it, internet.What did you think of the show?