Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip Mondays @ 10PM on NBC In a Nutshell: The West Wing meets The Muppet Show Man, this show was tough to pick as a recommendation. I actually only snagged it at first (for research) because I thought it was the "new Tina Fey comedy" but I was wrong (that one is 30 Rock; review coming soon). I watched the first 4 episodes and was frustrated all to hell. I'm not a West Wing watcher so I am not up creator Aaron Sorkin's ass. With this show, I figured out why I'm not a West Wing watcher - Aaron Sorkin makes me dizzy. This whole "pedaconferencing" (or the walk-and-talk) puts a serious crimp in any laid-back tv watcher's style - especially when one is being introduced to the characters and trying really hard to follow the plots that will set up the stories for the rest of the show's life. Things happened so fast that I had to visit the Interweb to have it explained to me. Oh yeah, and the whole show takes place in the dark. You know, to give it that CSI..er, I mean, old theater look. What I found was that everyone from the Interweb was tuning in because they WERE up Aaron Sorkin's ass. Fair enough - I hear West Wing was good. I read that people were quite disappointed in the show thus far (by episode 4-ish) but were amused with the West Wing/Sorkin "shout outs" and eager to see the show get better. The Collective Mind told me (every week, for about four weeks) that I MUST keep watching because the show WOULD get better. Well, it didn't. Not for a while. Everyone continued to talk fast (while walking) and managed to be not funny. That's kind of a downer considering the show is about making a comedy show. The writers tended to beat us over the heads with plot concepts so we would obviously know what's going on (Tom's parents are soooo Midwest, that they don't even know who Abbott and Costello are! Ha ha!). There was waaaay too much dwelling on the "we just broke up but we've still got to work together" angle between Matthew Perry's character and Sarah Paulson's character. There wasn't enough banter between Perry and the other male lead (West Wing's Bradley Whitford). And the comedy sketches the crew was working on/performing in in the show-within-a-show were pretty much as lame as a lot of Saturday Night Live is today. The best part of the show was Timothy Busfield's character, the show's director, who didn't get much face time anyway. If you're curious, Matthew Perry doesn't suck in this show. He's toned down his Chandler-ness and gets in some pretty good quips with Whitford - when he's not having to concentrate on his ex-girlfriend as his employee. A dislike of Friends shouldn't keep you away. So..has the show gotten better since the beginning? It HAS gotten better. And I'd really, really like to think it was due to the addition of Kids In The Hall's Mark McKinney joining the writing team for the 2-part 7th and 8th episodes. Somehow, the show picked up a bit at that time and became less grueling to watch and more entertaining. Now, to my surprise, McKinney is also appearing in the show as a re-hired ex-writer who is seriously depressed/ing but somewhat astonishingly good at being a mentor to some of the greener writers. Maybe it's not McKinney...but let's just pretend it is. Nothing makes me happier to see one of the Kids bringing good comedy to American TV (Newsradio, anyone?). Fancy that, though - the show starts focusing more on the main premise (the creation of a sketch comedy show) and less on the banality of the boring main characters, and it gets better. (For those of you who are The Office (UK) fans, Lucy Davis (Dawn) peeks on the screen a couple times as a writer in the first few episodes, and by the time McKinney joins the cast she becomes a central character.) So, the only reason I can recommend this show is that it doesn't suck so bad, anymore. You can go ahead and hop right on this train mid-season and rest assured that you didn't miss much in the first 8 episodes other than some fast-paced setup and some really bad writing. Besides, it's free.