Our very first third episode! And a keeper, at that. While episode 103 has probably been in the can for a number of weeks, it still managed to deal with a few issues that have popped up across the blogosphere since the pilot and episode 102 aired, all within the context of the show-within-a-show. (Note: To my knowledge, the internets have not come up with a uniform way to differentiate between Studio 60 the show on NBC, and Studio 60 the late-night show-within-a-show.) Please, forgo the headaches and press on!
Issue #1: Studio 60 will never be as popular as the West Wing: To answer that criticism, Sorkin had the entire plot of tonight's episode revolve around television ratings/focus groups, and whether or not Studio 60 (the show-within-a-show) could hold onto its ratings from the previous week. In tonight's episode, the show-within-a show does. In reality, the actual show on NBC didn't (episode two of NBC's Studio 60 saw a drop in ratings; tonight's ratings won't be available until tomorrow morning).
Issue #2: Studio 60 is like nothing on television, hence, regular people just won't "get it": Seeing how NBC's Studio 60 lost viewers after its first episode, this is quite honestly a valid criticism. But Sorkin deals with it within the context of his show by introducing a sketch in his show-within-a-show that most viewers in the focus group just don't get. The producers decide to run the sketch again in episode two (of the show-within-a-show) and the focus group numbers indicate that more people "got it" when they saw the character/sketch for the second time. Sorkin's hope for NBC's Studio 60 is the same. The more often people watch it, the more comfortable they become with the format, and the more they "get" the show.
Issue #3: Sorkin can't possibly write every episode of Studio 60 (like he did on the West Wing), and not burn out at some point (like he did on the West Wing): Sorkin has admitted that he won't try to write every episode of the show, and in his show-within-a-show, Sorkin has Studio 60 head-writer Matt Alby come to the same conclusion. Alby allows other writers into the fold to avoid burn out, just as Sorkin will in reality.
Issue #4: Aaron Sorkin doesn't understand Middle America and criticizes it every chance he gets: This was true at times on the West Wing, and it has been true at times on Studio 60 thus far. Yet, in tonight's episode, Sorkin has two scenes which show he's trying to rectify the situation. One involved a joke about a small-town's decision to replace a school production of The Crucible with the "less-controversial" A Midsummer Night's Dream. The joke was cut from the broadcast version of the show-within-a-show because the cast didn't feel that the small town deserved the same amount of ridicule as larger, more powerful targets like the White House or the Religious Right. And another incident came later in the show when over 400 callers phoned the NBS affiliate in Terra Haute, Indiana, to complain about the affiliate's decision not to air the late-night show-within-a-show version of Studio 60.
Are you nice and confused now? Sorry about that. But until we can talk about NBC's Studio 60 and NBS's Studio 60 (the show-within-a-show) without having to resort to all that wordy blather, I'm not sure what else to do. The solution will come to someone soon, someone much smarter and most likely much prettier than me, and all will be right with the world once again.
Until that day, let's all try to keep up. Shall we?
(Screencaps ruthlessly stolen from screenmusings.com.)