Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Te Deum, or Tedium?

I make no apologies for the fact that this entry veers all over the place like a turbo-charged shopping trolley. Can't think why, but it all seemed to make sense when I was writing it...

Ohboyohboyohboy, I been watching some reeeeeeaaaaaal tasty telly of late.

Courtesy of Callaghan over at Creatively Progressing, I checked out Studio 60 on The Sunset Strip. Now, we all undoubtedly have fairly high expectations (quite rightly) of Mr & Mrs Sorkin's little boy Aaron, so I crossed my fingers and hoped that it would give me the same kind of "grin factor" feeling engendered when one stumbles across a particularly fine piece of work.

It did. I grinned like a dribbling buffoon who'd just been given a morphine enema.

I need to nail my colours to the mast here about telly/movies and the making thereof. For me, it's less important that something is "down to the dirt" factually accurate about its subject if that comes at the cost of it being good entertainment. If I wanted a true picture of forensic procedures, I'd watch a documentary, not CSI. The same goes for any dramatic endeavour. I'm here to be entertained, fercrissakes, not lectured about how much the author knows about a given subject. Whether that entertaining takes the form of an emotional journey into the bleak recesses of the protagonist's soul, or is just a bunch of edge-of-the-seat, action-packed, blow up every building bigger than a shed eye-candy isn't important.

I'm not saying that a writer or creator should abandon the idea of research and knowing the field in which the piece is set, just that it needs to be tempered with the view that the end result is a piece of entertainment.

Obviously, drama is a variable and movable feast for different people. Many erudite and eloquent screenwriters whose opinions I generally respect would rather challenge someone to a duel to the death than allow Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge to be included on a list of decent films, for example. Others will sweepingly rebuff anyone that tentatively offers anything that Hollywood has produced in the last hundred years as anything other than bilge.

We all know that this field is subjective. If we could have a machine you could plug a movie into and it would flash a light telling you it was either a masterpiece or a piece of shit, well, that would mean the same old thing being trotted out time and time again, because "it makes the machine show the Masterpiece light".

There isn't such a machine, which means that Marty Scorcese gets to make movies as well as Troma. And there are audiences for both. I've evangelised about the new Battlestar Galactica over here in the UK and let me tell you, it's a tough sell. "The old thing with the robots?" is generally what you hear, alongside "Oh no, I don't really watch any sci-fi". Admittedly, if you get to watch what the UK is currently selling by the pound under the banner of sci-fi (Doctor bleeding Who), then I too would opt out of seeing anything remotely similar on grounds of I might have to cut my own head off to escape infecting my eyes with it.

Hey, I didn't say we couldn't be opinionated, now did I? ;-)

Circuitously, this brings me around to the subject of Studio 60. A blank look generally greets the mention of the show (as it's not being shown here yet), so I mention Aaron Sorkin. A glimmer of recognition. "West Wing?" Ah yes, that gets their interest. Then you have to say, "It's like West Wing, but not about politics, though it's sort of about corporate politics and they run a TV show, not the country, and no, Martin Sheen's not in it as a stand-up comic". And you've lost 'em again.

Whether or not the artistry is perfect, or the characters are absolutely believable (Sarah Paulson is pushing it a bit as a comic actress for me) doesn't impact on the show being (for me) a very well crafted bit of television with a lot of rooom for growth and storylines. I don't care whether the writer's room's on SNL were exactly like that, this is a dramatisation, not a documentary.

And it's bloody entertaining.


At 2:29 pm, Blogger wcdixon said...

Well said sir!

Last night's Studio 60 ep was good also...so at least its not going downhill

At 3:59 pm, Blogger Riddley Walker said...

Grrr, feel my wrath at the godless Canadian infidel being able to view Studio 60 before the Old Countryâ„¢.


Still, I'll be downloading it tonight.

Before you all jump on me for that one, don't think for a moment I won't be buying it on DVD the moment it becomes available. ;-)


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