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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

What's This New TV Trend?

Friday, July 21, 2006

NPH has been seeing trailers for a couple of fall shows on NBC that have us downright giddy, mostly for the people involved.

First there's Tina Fey, presently the head writer and Weekend Update anchor for Saturday Night Live. She allso wrote the hit movie Mean Girls. Fey has written a new show called "30 Rock," a comedy about a television writer for NBC who has to deal with the egos of a pampered cast (fellow SNLers Tracy Morgan and Rachel Dratch) as well as the self-obsession of her producer, played by Alec Baldwin.

NPH does not, as a rule, swear allegiance to television shows. We'll be watching this one, you can bet your sweet bippy.

Next there's "Studio 60 on The Sunset Strip," a drama written by West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin and starring Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford. For NPH, Whitford is the draw here. Sorkin writes stuff that is far better than anything else out there (see seasons 1-4 of West Wing), and Perry is good for a giggle, but Whitford is just too good to miss. He's sardonic, clever, and compelling; NPH thinks he single-handedly carried The West Wing through its last three seasons. "Studio 60 . . ." centers on two producers (Perry and Whitford) who are brought in to save a flailing Friday night sketch comedy show on a network called NBS.

NPH is interested in these two shows for the trend that they may foretell: television shows about television shows. And not just that, but television shows about the production of television shows, inluding the sordid lives of the producers and the politics of the networks. Both of these shows are painfully obvious representations of real shows and a real network; 30 Rock is shorthand for the universally-known address (30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan) of the NBC studio where SNL is broadcast, and "Studio 60 . . ." is a clear representation of SNL and NBC themselves.

What is this about? Is NBC trying to capitalize on the interest created by such behind-the-scenes books as Live From New York and Jay Mohr's Gasping for Airtime (both of which NPH has read and enjoyed deliriously)? Or are these shows a sort of dramatization of the reality TV trend, the next progression in tv artistry: remove the fourth wall, then put it back and build a show around its presence?

Whatever the trend indicates, NPH is going to be rushing home on Tuesday and Wednesday nights to see these shows.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 7:07 AM


If the success of WKRP, NewsRadio (pre-Jon Lovitt, that is), and SportsNight are any indication this new trend will succeed, this blogger is also quite interested in these shows. (Cast Jay Mohr in one of them and I will be in heaven.) With even "reality" tv becoming predicable, behind the scences trauma and hilarity might just be the next way to submit ourselves to the tv gods.
commented by Blogger stephanie, 7:31 AM  

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