Better Late Than Never: 10 Random Thoughts On Studio 60 Episode Seven

Credit: NBC

Welcome back to Better Late than Never. Today we’re diving into the first part of a two-part episode. This is Studio 60’s first two-parter of the season. There is another two-part episode in our future as well as a three-part episode as we head into the season–and series–finale. Hopefully, all the episodes will work out to where the two-parters and three-parters aren’t broken up by the weekend. We’ll have to see.

Either way, “Nevada Day Pt 1” is the episode we landed on today. We are inching ever closer to the episodes I’ve yet to see. So, soon, this will be even more of an adventure. Until then, let’s see what Tom gets into and how the Studio 60 crew tries to fix it. With this crew, anything can happen, and I’m sure that’s exactly what does happen. We are dealing with a crew of book smart, not exactly street smart, people.

  1. I love these beginnings where Sorkin throws you in the middle of nowhere, en media res, with little more than a timestamp. Said timestamp reads Friday, 2:45 PM, and Jack, Simon, Danny, Tom, and two Asian characters are all in a little podunk police station. Tom is wearing what looks to be mummy rags and he’s handcuffed. What did he do? Why is two-thirds of the Big Three there on a Friday? That’s the big question because we all know Friday nights are when the show’s on the air so this is major. (They’re not mummy rags but that’s the best I got right now.)
  2. “Legal brothels?” Jack immediately looks at Danny. “What are you looking at me for?” You know what? That’s a very good question. Jack, do you know something that we don’t know that we possibly never will know? Hmm. 
  3. John Goodman!!! Sorkin just recycles actors and I love it so much. I really do. Less than five minutes in and Goodman is already doing what Goodman does best, being sassy, and taking names. It almost feels like this character was written for him, and for some reason, I don’t doubt it. And yes, men can be sassy. Don’t look at me like that.
  4. Oh. Okay, so Zhang Tao and Kim Tao are there because Ed Asner’s character is planning on making Macau into “the Vegas of China.” Makes perfect sense. And apparently, Kim is “intoxicated on American culture,” particularly Tom which is hilarious and I love it. I think most teenagers would be “intoxicated” by Simon. No? Just me? Okay. Even Jack is surprised Kim wants to meet Tom.
  5. And there is a CSI: Miami reference. For those who don’t know, Emily Proctor, who played Ainsley Hayes on The West Wing, played Calleigh Duquesne on Miami. A little nod to her? Perhaps. I’ve read somewhere that Sorkin regrets letting CBS take her from NBC and the show so I wouldn’t put it past him. 
  6. I don’t know why Danny and Jack are trading words like this. It’s like a he said, she said, merry go round of wordplay. It’s hilarious and I think it lends well to the way Jack and Danny talk about Jordan later in the episode. If I remember what happens later in the episode. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this one. 
  7. “Seriously, is this a sketch?” No, Danny, but the whole concept is funny enough that it could’ve been. (And probably should have been, because the Jesus sketch isn’t all that funny.)
  8. Zhang only flies East. Nevada is east of Los Angeles. “He says it’s fine. We’ll stop on the way.” cue Jack hating his life more than he already hates his life at that moment Seriously, though, what is it with fangirls? I’ve never understood the hype. 
  9. I like how Jack is like, “don’t patronize me” but then turns around and patronizes Jordan and puts her down in front of Danny. Jack is a misogynistic ass and has been since the beginning. Even with Kim Tao, his blatant dislike of women who have more power than he does is obvious and grating. (I, also, don’t believe him when he says he’s rooting for her. All evidence, so far, points to the contrary, Jack.)
  10. The dreaded to be continued. This is Studio 60’s first two-parter and while it raises more questions and answers most of the previous ones, I don’t feel like it ends strong enough to warrant a two-parter.

More character development! Tom is an underrated character and despite that, I think he’s the lynchpin of the series. Forget Matt or Harry or Danny or anyone else. Tom is the most important character in this ensemble and I feel like Sorkin keeps slowly building him up for greater things. I hope I’m right because I love Nate Corddry. I think he holds his own against all these heavyweights and the more Sorkin gives him to do, the more he proves his medal and his talent. His timing is always brilliant and there is an emotionality to his performance in the last five minutes that makes me think that there’s something else simmering below the surface that we’ll be privy to in the second part.

Once again, though, I am reminded just how weak Sorkin’s sketch writing skills are. He makes good points with his sketches, just as I’m sure SNL does with their sketches, but there is something lacking in Sorkin’s skills. It’s not the actors. They give it their all. That’s not to say the show and Sorkin don’t find humor in the little things, because he does. That’s what confounds me.

Sorkin is a funny and witty guy. His humor stems from his wordplay and the delivery of his actors, but mostly his wordplay. Maybe that’s why his sketches aren’t funny. (This one was funnier than most because of the wordplay.) He’s trying to be someone else, which, I understand, is what writing is at its base level, but this is Sorkin. It’s hard to explain but his comedy feels more intellectual than what he’s trying to put into sketches and I think that’s part of the reason why it doesn’t work. I’m not a comedy expert or a writing expert, but that’s my two cents on the matter. That’s what it feels like for me.

Beyond that, this was a solid episode that gave the audience more insight into not only Tom but Jack as well. Sure, we don’t know why he’s a misogynist or why, despite being one, he’s supposedly “rooting” for Jordan. He plainly doesn’t like Jordan despite their obvious chemistry (again, no, not romantic chemistry). He’s even said that he doesn’t find her charming. Despite the back and forth with Jack and Jordan, I really like it. A lot. Jack is a deeply flawed character and, while I don’t imagine he’ll get any better in the run of the show, it’s nice not seeing a one-note corporate villain. He has flaws and I’m sure there’s a redeeming quality in there somewhere.  Though his racist remarks to Simon on the plane were inexcusable.

Shelby Arnold
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