Cookies and cheesy television

Right. The plan (insofar as we ever have a plan around here) is to talk about some of our favorite things--television, film, music, and books. I've been volunteered to start off, and as I've spent the evening turning the Stickiest Dough in the Universe* into cookies** that no one can eat for three weeks,*** you're getting a show I talk about on Monday nights anyway, Studio 60.

There were huge amounts of publicity on this one--Aaron Sorkin's return to television, starring Bradley Whitford and that guy from Friends, and it was supposed to be the critical success of the season.

It's both failed to live up to its potential and turned into a show that's worth watching for the great lines and the occasional stellar performances. I'm a big fan of Sorkin's work, and I find myself continually disappointed by the writing and by several of the characters (Amanda Peet's character, in particular, is a painful one to watch. Both badly written and inconsistently performed, most of Jordan's storylines induce a strong desire to spork my eyes out), but I remain hopeful. He's done it twice before, and although West Wing was strong from the very first episode, Sports Night took a while to find its rhythm.

The recent addition of Mark McKinney has helped immensely, as has Timothy Busfield's character, Cal. It's not fabulous, plan-around-it television, but it is better than the lead-in, Heroes.

Things to watch for: Banter between Danny and Matt, the main characters. Stealth snark by Cal. The fairly consistent zingers that almost all the characters get to throw out at some point. Guest stars (including Felicity Huffman, John Goodman, and Christine Lahti) and musical guests. This week, the final musical number is fantastic, if you can ignore the horrible acting going on during it.

Things to avoid: Try to get up for popcorn whenever the regularly scheduled political and entertainment rants begin. They last about ninety seconds, contain no lines that will make you laugh or think, and are generally followed by a joke. Same rules apply for the sketches within the show. References to red states, religion, or the FCC are almost invariably negative.

* Molasses, corn syrup, brown sugar, and just enough flour to hold the spices in. Plus black walnuts, which I finally found at the corner store.

It's like baking with contact cement. I accidentally left a spoon in the bowl between batches, and it vanished beneath the surface like a mammoth with a one-way ticket to the Field Museum.

** I mixed up a quarter recipe, which comes out to about seven dozen cookies. My dad made a full batch, or enough to fill two and a half of those giant popcorn tins. His look like ovals; mine might charitably be said to resemble New Jersey. Or maybe Vermont. But they taste good.

*** Right now, anyone trying to bite into them would need some expensive dental work. Basically, there's a ten minute window while they're still warm, and then they have the consistency of window glass until Christmas. But once they soften, they're seriously addictive. Trust me on this.


At 12/05/2006 5:21 PM, Anonymous TV Watch said...

Actually, the threat of fines from the FCC - even for live programming, like the newscast on last night's episode - is very real. PBS news programs on the war in Iraq, Saving Private Ryan, and even attempts to televise the funeral of Pat Tillman have all been either edited or cancelled out of fear of major fines.

For more information on how the threat of government fines is putting a real damper on everything from newscasts to live sports programming, go to www.televisionwatch.org

At 12/08/2006 1:33 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

It's funny. This particular bit of comment spam would fit in with my related post, the one not on this blog, but it's pretty meaningless here. Horseshoes and hand grenades, people.


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