Sunday , October 29, 2006
Studio 60’ Cancellation Imminent
Despite receiving an order for three more episodes on Friday, the Aaron Sorkin NBC drama “Studio 60 on Sunset Strip” is about to be put out of its misery. Cast members are already confiding in friends that the end is near. Its likely NBC will pull the plug shortly I am told by insiders. Last week, Studio 60 had 7.7 million viewers. Compare that with competing "CSI: Miami," with 17.5 million. That gap cannot be closed. But ‘Studio 60’ has trouble internally at NBC, forget its intramural rivals. According to ratings stats, the “Saturday Night Live” behind the scenes soap opera loses almost half the viewers delivered to it a few minutes earlier by another new show, “Heroes,” which has become a surprise cult hit.
On Monday, ‘Heroes’ had 14.3 million viewers. The substantial drop off with 'Studio 60' is probably the last nail in its coffin. The order of the three extra episodes is considered by insiders to be a contractual move, and not one based on faith that they will ever be made or aired. The all important demo situation didn’t help: 'Heroes' had 15 percent of viewers aged 18-49. Studio 60 had 8 percent. The notion that 'Studio 60' is a big draw for NBC among desirables is, sadly, blown on those stats.
Sorkin and friends will argue that NBC has done something wrong, or that the audience isn’t smart enough. Alas, in this case, neither is true. 'Studio 60'—as I wrote on August 7th after viewing the pilot—is just a bad show. There’s nothing wrong with the acting, directing, or dialogue writing. But the premise is faulty. No one cares whether a bunch of over caffeinated, well off yuppies, some with expensive drug habits, put on a weekly comedy sketch show from Los Angeles. Even worse: no one cares whether or not the people from the Bartlett White House puts on a comedy show. That’s what 'Studio 60' is, essentially: the "West Wing" annual talent show. There’s so much earnestness involved in this endeavor, you start to think that nuclear war will be declared if the 'Studio 60' staff doesn’t air some joke—usually one we don’t hear anyway. The whole thing just feels weighted down and frankly, not entertaining.
NBC will probably fill the lost 'Studio 60' timeslot with 'Deal-No Deal: The Next Generation,' or some such thing. So the losers here will be the audience, which is about to be pummeled by more reality and game shows.
I think they should try it out on another night - pair it up with something more complimentary and leave 'Friday Night Lights' to follow 'Heroes' as is happening tonight. Couldn't hurt.