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Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Mark Tregoweth
Mark Tregoweth
Amanda Peet

The critics loved it but viewers failed to tune into Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, a one season wonder from the creators of TV’s The West Wing.

The behind the scenes dramedy, about a late night sketch/comedy show debuted on American television in 2006 and was heralded as the season’s sure fire hit, but after 22 episodes it and its star studded cast were canned.

Created by Emmy award winning writer Aaron Sorkin, the series begins when the creator of a once popular TV show (Judd Hirsh) has a melt down live on air.

The meltdown occurs on Jordan McDeere (Amanda Peet) first day as network president. To avoid a backlash she sacks the man and in his place hires comedy writer Matt (Mathew Perry) and executive producer Danny (Bradley Whitford) to revitalise the show.

Initially reluctant to return, after being fired from the show four years previously, they re-enter the crazy world of live television after being convinced it will re-float their careers.

Behind the scenes a team of misfit writers work to create comedy out of chaos pushing the envelope on everything from race to religious issues.

With potential for disaster backstage a cast of colourful characters make the skits work on screen.

Leading the cast is actress/comedian Harriet Hayes (Sarah Paulsen) a fiery blonde who shares a stormy past with the shows new head, Matt.

If the plot sounds convoluted it isn’t. Cleverly written and character driven each episode is an example of what television can achieve when it gets it right.

Expertly executed, individual episodes combine comedy with drama with ease.

From the shows leads to supporting cast every character has a purpose and the actors that portray them chemistry.

As each of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip’s 22 shows are revealed the mix of big business, ratings wars, personalities and pressurised behind the scene world of a television show are explored.

While this series wasn’t a rating winner on TV, on DVD it deserves to be a best seller.

*Special features;

Pilot episode commentary by series creator Aaron Sorkin and executive producer Thomas Schlamme

In Depth: The Evolution of Studio 60

An insightful documentary that follows the making of the show, In Depth features candid quotes from key cast members, interviews with the shows creators and a behind the scenes look at how sets were created.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip **** 1/2
Warner Bros DVD
Rating M
RRP $39.95

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