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A Viper, A Ferret, and a Coyote Walk Into a ‘Studio’…

Last week, I was pissed off at the writers of Studio 60. I was indignant. I wanted to stand up from my seat and start yelling at the TV, scoffing, “Clearly, a man wrote that. A woman would never write that. Why lie? Why not just tell the simple truth? Why why why?”

I saw a cliché-riddled version of the age-old battle of the sexes played out before me, when Tom’s boss–his boss!–advised him to lie to Lucy, and make up an excuse for breaking their date.

It may seem that the show can do no right, in my eyes. It has swung from being a drama about a comedy show–not overtly funny in a slapstick-y way, nor particularly funny in a cerebral way–to playing up the lowest common denominator: clichéd sitcom humor.

Last night, the writers redeemed themselves.

By the end of last night's episode, it was clear that the use of "obvious" plot twists was a deliberate storytelling device, not the result of lazy writing. This wasn’t frat-house humor, it was closer to the plotlines of a Shakespeare comedy. Of course, when Tom burst into the room and began talking about Kim, her parents would be standing behind him. Of course her father, who’s had a translator in each episode, speaks perfect English. Of course

Cal had no recourse but to rip up the stage; it was clear from the middle of the last episode that he would have to. There was a viper, a ferret, and a coyote under the stage. That’s…that’s…well, that’s pretty funny, actually. I loved it. Studio 60 as farce.

What I’ve come to notice with Studio 60 is that you can’t just watch one episode and be happy with it. The storylines are laid out to be enjoyed in a serial format, a cross between weekly or monthly written installments of novellas (something the NY Times Magazine has recently resurrected) and the individual acts of a play.

I think viewers would enjoy Studio 60 so much more if two episodes were played back to back each night, as Fox does with the first couple of weeks of 24. Maybe Bravo could air the previous week’s episode before the new one airs on NBC, though that would take away from the big Heroes lead-in.

So, here’s my tip. In order to really enjoy this show, I’m recording it each week and watching the previous week’s episode again on Sunday night, so I’m ready for the next installment on Monday. I think it’s worth it.

By Guest Blogger Liz McKeon