- So the premiere of Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip has come and gone. And I was pleasantly pleased. Not blown away (though the Matthew Perry/Bradley Whitford scenes came awful close), but I enjoyed it all the same. Sorkin's dialogue sparkled, and Tommy Schlamme's direction was like the welcome return of an old friend. But: 45-minute pilots that have to introduce some 7 or 8 main characters are going to be a bit clunky. Remember that in The West Wing's pilot, President Bartlett was barely introduced -- he only had a short scene near the end of the episode -- which allowed Sorkin to focus exclusively on his other five stars. Once the characters of Studio 60 are established (which they mostly have been), I expect the show to start humming along. That being said....
- News is the series premiere of Studio 60 was overcome in the rating-wars by the season premiere of CSI:Miami. Surprisingly, Studio 60 actually lost ground as the hour went on, as a sizable amount of viewers tuned elsewhere for their entertainmennt during the second half of the show. That Studio 60 lost to CSI:Miami doesn't surprise me much. The show targets an audience that probably doesn't watch CSI:Miami in the first place, so it's a good program to square off against (though NBC likely wouldn't mind if they could steal away some of CSI:Miami's current audience, no doubt). That Studio 60 lost ground is a bit alarming, but when you consider it, the drop makes sense. Studio 60's lead-in was the wildly (at least for another couple of months) popular Deal or No Deal -- a two hour edition no less. While it may be a ratings grabber, it's definitely not a good thematic or genre lead-in. After two hours of watching people open briefcases and make funny faces, it's no wonder Studio 60 couldn't keep that audience. It's everything Deal isn't -- smart, fast-paced and irresistibly charming. In fact, the Judd Hirsch speech that opened Studio 60 railed against the very same television that Deal or No Deal represents. And while I've no personal problem with dumb entertainment (hello, Johnny Knoxville), it's only the fault of NBC's programming execs that Studio 60 wasn't able to hold its lead's audience.
- Speaking of stupid entertainment, and stupidity in general, there's an interesting piece in last week's Time Magazine (Sep 18th cover date) about Mike Judge's new film, Idiocracy. Judge, who you might know as the creator of Beavis & Butthead, King of the Hill, and everyone's favorite cubicle-comedy Office Space, has been hard at work on Idiocracy for over two years now (it's been in the can for months), and with Luke Wilson starring, you'd think you would have seen a trailer for it by now. But nothing. No press, no marketing campaign, no trailer on Quicktime's website for us movie geeks, no nothing. Idiocracy tells the story of a normal guy from our present (Wilson) who is frozen and thawed out in the year 2505, and finds himself in a strange future where he's the smartest person alive. Judge's vision of the future is alot like our present, only a hell of a lot worse. Corporations and advertising have dumbed down culture so far that everyone is an idiot, and everything around them is gaudily uniform. (My favorite quote from the article describes a scene where "Costco takes up miles of space and has greeters emotionlessly repeat, 'Welcome to Costco. I love you.'") Time cites the failure of Fox's marketing division to create a trailer that test groups reacted positively to for Fox's decision to limit the movie's release to just seven cities. Let's hope that Fox's creative failure to find a way to market the film doesn't hurt its chances to get a proper DVD treatement. Most likely, Idiocracy will play like another Office Space by slowly building a cult audience then exploding to the point where Comedy Central and TBS are engaged in a blood feud for the television rights. Anything to replace their repeated airings of Malibu's Most Wanted, please!
- New Topic: Rupert Murdoch wants your money, evangelical America! In addition to their lack of trailer cutting skills, Fox now has a Christian film marketing arm, aptly named FoxFaith. Fox plans to release small-budget Christians films on DVD while specifically marketing them to Christian audiences with the help of churches like yours. Additionally, FoxFaith will market a select few films each year for theatrical release as well. Fox does not have any plans to produce big-budget Passion of the Christ epics however: their first film will an adaptation of Christian romance novelist Janette Oke's Love's Abiding Joy. For those of you not familiar with with the Christian romance scene, it's a lot like Harlequin novels, except the sex scenes are replaced with more wholesome conversion experiences. Can I get an amen?
- And finally, while none of you will care, Joss Whedon is taking over the plotting/scripting duties for Marvel Comic's Runaways beginning with issue #25. I'm not even sure if I care, save for the fact that the book was created by Brian K. Vaughan (of Y: The Last Man fame), and that Whedon is TV geek royalty. Runaways has always sounded like a fun read, and maybe someday, if I can get past the fact that it's not published before the 1990s, I'll check it out.
P.S. Jake, can you remember to get my copy of Lost Season One from that one guy whose name I can't remember? I think it's safe to say that he's had a chance to view all 22 episodes considering how he's had it for about a year now. Thanks, chief.