Fall 2006 Pilots Review – Part 3

Well…I said this was going to be 2 parts, then it became 3, and now it appears that it will be 4 since I still haven’t gotten a chance to watch Traveler and Aquaman yet. I did however manage to watch the two shows I had really wanted to see; Studio 60 and Amazing Screw-On Head. Both completely different shows, but absolutely fantastic in their own individual ways. First, with a more critical view than I’ve previously shown, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

Admittedly, I went in with incredibly high expectations. This show was THE show to watch as far as I was concerned. It had writing by Aaron Sorkin (who made 4 seasons of The West Wing the best hours of television I’ve ever had the privilege of watching) and it had an incredible cast with Amanda Peet, Matthew Perry, and Bradley Whitford. In a nutshell, I was not disappointed. I loved this episode. That doesn’t mean it was perfect; no, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a damned good show. First off, the writing; Aaron Sorkin did not disappoint. It was witty, quick, and without the tics that became a trademark of West Wing. The conversations felt real, and were delivered with an excellence that it hard to find on television these days. The setting was also fantastic. I love the concept of a behind-the-scenes look at something like Saturday Night Live (which this is a blatant attack on…and I agree completely with everything stated within about that show). Sorkin did seem to be venting a bit with the opening catalyst scene, but it works in the context of the series and works very well, so I have no problems with it.

Secondly, the acting. Amanda Peet was incredible. I haven’t really seen any recent movie of hers in a while so it was a pleasant surprise to see how much she’s grown as an actress. She always seemed to be smiling from what I remember of her, but thankfully none of that remains in this show. She just happens to be a character that smiles a lot. And it is incredible. Matthew Perry disappointed me the most, to be perfectly honest. He’s just playing Chandler…again. It was good the first couple of times (see: Fools Rush In, Three To Tango, Serving Sara) but is now just repetitive and I’m beginning to wonder if he can handle any other character type. It was by no means bad, in fact an excellent piece of work…but it’s just a rehash. Bradley Whitford was good though, but he had a pretty minimal role in the pilot so it’s a wait-and-see on that front. The big surprise for me was Sarah Paulson. I’ve never really watched anything with her (at least not to my recollection) but she did an incredible job in the time she had. I loved her in this, and hope to see a lot more of her.

In short, Studio 60 is an excellent show. It has enough room to grow that I feel perfectly content watching it to see how it progresses, and the continual guest stars should be fun to punch it up and move the show forwards in an organic manner. I can’t wait for the next episode.

Next up, the Amazing Screw-On Head. Now, I’m not a huge Mike Mignola fan. I enjoy most of his Hellboy, but I’ve never really been able to become immersed in that world. It’s always been more of a passing fascination rather than a true involvement a la X-men during the 80s, or Wonder Woman with the Perez run, or especially Transmetropolitan. Still, I watched this show because I do admire Mignola’s artwork, and I had no pre-conceptions about the Head as I had not yet read the comic (still haven’t, but will get to it soon). Anyway, this show is hilarious. Paul Giamatti and David Hyde Pierce were awesome and the animation was incredible. I loved how true to Mignola’s art it all was, and sincerely hope Sci-Fi makes more episodes. We need more shows like this; funny, dark, twisted, and not afraid to poke fun at the history of the U.S.A.

Thus ends another installment of the Fall Pilots review session. Hopefully the next one will be the last one. Then I can move on to more comics, and more show-specific posts. I have a lot of comments on Entourage, The 4400, the civil war delays, the “surprise” death in 52, the preview of Battlestar Galactica Season 3 that I need to write about. Ah…too much to write, too little time. Anyway, till I return…

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