‘Studio 60’: Back, this time with more Busfield!

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The first of the last episodes of the much-maligned Studio 60 was notable for, among other things, leaving out half of the headlining cast members.No Matthew Perry, no Bradley Whitford, no Amanda Peet. Instead, the show focused on the backstage machinations involved in a train-wreck of an episode of the eponymous fictional series.Of course, this is a show that has often been criticized for not focusing on what goes in to putting on a show.

This is also a show that has been criticized for not being as timely or original as its creators’ other shows, namely The West Wing and Sports Night.That assessment was addressed directly at the episode’s end, in the persons of Allison Janney, whom everyone loves, and Timothy Busfield, whom everyone also loves. “It was a bad show. I mean, classically bad. But it still beats digging a hole for a living. Tell me you still didn’t have the time of your life tonight.”Studio 60 is far from a bad show, so maybe that is too literal an interpretation of the sentiment, but I suspect that that is where they were going with it.

Allison Janney had a much larger role as guest host than previous episodes’ guests, and her presence provided fodder for a couple of self-referential jokes involving West Wing, as well as Steven Webber’s Jack mixing her up with the real life Christine Lahti, who often plays a journalist on Studio 60, although Lahti did not appear in this episode.If I had a platform as substantial as Aaron Sorkin’s, I’d launch all sorts of jokes from it.

I also feel I should mention that the show made a point of telling the audience how sick of the Matt and Harriet storyline the fictional cast is.

A couple of last notes – Sarah Paulson does a very funny Nancy Grace, and an even more funny spit take.I have to wonder if there was a scene cut during which the guest host is told about the bomb threat, because none of the other performers ever mentioned it or seemed to be aware of it, although she did.Finally, the wordless bit of acting Timothy Busfield did when the bomb squad asked him if there were any electrical devices in the building was probably the most priceless piece of footage I’ve seen on TV so far this year.

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