Ever since The West Wing finally wrapped up and went off the air, I've needed some other compelling show that keeps me waiting in anticipation of the next week's episode. I had high hopes for "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." With half of the cast coming straight off the set of The West Wing, and Aaron Sorkin writing the show, I was definitely expecting a great show. The pilot had me hooked... but apparently not so much for the rest of the world. The show has been in a steady ratings decline ever since the optimistic pilot episode. I was a devoted follower for the first 5 shows of the series... really getting interested in the characters and following the usually compelling story lines... but somewhat disappointed overall. Something was missing... I wasn't finding myself yelling at the TV, rewinding the episode to watch an amazing scene over again, dying to know how it's all going to work out... until last night. Seven episodes into the series they finally hit the mark. Last night's episode finally fit together. They didn't need to waste time developing characters, didn't waste time trying to convince people that the show is about writing funny sketches for a late night comedy show, and didn't have any "space-filler subplots" that nobody really cares about. It helped that they had the amazing actor John Goodman (who I think has been a guest star in every show on television these days), and to top it off, the sketch that the plot centered around was actually funny! My only complaint was that it was the first part of a two-part episode that just left me screaming for more. This is the show I was waiting for.
The show is finally good -- one problem: nobody knows this anymore, and no viewers means the show is doomed to end up in the land of lost shows. Apparently NBC has contracted it for 13 episodes and just bought 3 more for a total of 16. Usually that's a good sign, but the ratings need to increase if it's ever going to stay on the air as long as it should. The one thing going for it is that it's pulling in a very profitable demographic. It's a huge draw in the rich and well-educated audiences, which means big money from advertisers. That alone seems to be enough to keep it on the air through the season... it just can't seem to shake off CSI: Miami in the same timeslot over on CBS, which means it will probably get shifted out of Monday 10pm into some other slot (Wednesday perhaps). My guess is that if people who watched the pilot give it a second chance and watch it again now, they might have a more favorable view. Regardless, I think it's a show worth watching... especially for anyone who was a fan of The West Wing, or just likes a good dramedy. We'll see if it survives... but if you haven't watched it yet, I recommend it. At least throw it on the Tivo or DVR and keep it around when you can't find anything else good on TV.