Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
The Friday Night Slaughter

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Joe R: C+ | Grade It Now!
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I Am Battle

...well, why don't we just go there and see? The hallway outside Wes's office is utterly clogged with people, all of them waiting for Tobolowky to emerge with the night's big board. Matt (hatless! He looks so old!) finds Harriet and redundants that the Board is about to come out. She smiles, and then she asks him what his point was, earlier, about the 100 million angels. Oh, Matt's point was only that it's kind of stupid to put your faith in the word of people who obviously couldn't count all that high. That's all. Particularly since Harriet's never seen an angel. You know exactly what Harriet's going to say: "If I could see them, it wouldn't be faith." Matt starts to ask if they can just start over (a good idea, provided it's three days ago), but he's interrupted by Tobolowsky with the board. Harriet forgets all about him and runs up to see if she made it onto the show. Assorted writers and actors cheer, and Harriet raises her fists in triumph. Matt --back across the hall -- waits an eternity of two seconds before he sees Harriet call for Luke. "Singing Teacher!" she yelps. She hugs Luke, and from afar, Matt's hatless heart breaks. It breaks even further as Harriet and Luke rush past him, caught up in the frenzy of having to fine-tune this sketch that's now about to go on the air.

Just as Matt starts to look like he could use a Schedule II narcotic, he looks back to the Big Board and spots Tim Batale, still in his blue Oxford shirt and khakis, and the baseball cap that we've up until now seen only on top of Matt's head. Tim says that he tried writing his way back on the show -- put a sketch in The Stack and everything. But it didn't even make it to dress. So now he's just there because "...I don't know. I don't know." Well that clears it up, then. 1999 Imaginary Matt says, "You know, you and I don't know each other well." 1999 Imaginary Tim looks back at him and says, "What?" The camera has pulled in tight so that all we see are Matt and Tim's faces on opposite sides of the frame, staring at each other not unlike -- I cannot believe this is my reference point -- the video cover for this movie. Matt says, "You know, I don't remember how we met," and the music gets louder and more severe and more ominous, and just as Tim breaks out into a rather creepy smile, we slam cut into the present.

Look: it's a rather dumb idea for a plot, this kind of Shyamalan-esque exercise in viewer manipulation and pulling the wool over our eyes. Not to mention its being kind of lame from the story side of things, what with the suddenly-appearing (a) drug addiction, and (b) recognition that this is a television show with actors and writers who care about seeing their sketches on TV. Mostly, it's symptomatic of a show that really doesn't know what it wants to be anymore. But I will say this: the technical aspects of the show -- the direction, the camerawork, the sheer vibrancy of the studio in 1999 -- are on point. You almost wish the show would stick with the flashback and allow Matt, Harriet, and Luke to start fresh.

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Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

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