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

Back in Matt's office, Cal and Danny are still playing make believe with the "Metric Conversion" card, so strike what I said earlier about the grownups. They're sort of lost in their own world until Matt has to get up from his desk and tell them to snap out of it. As he approaches them, the back of his suit jacket becomes...

...the back of his hooded sweatshirt in 1999. And how do we know it's 1999? If I told you it was because Smashmouth's "All-Star" was playing on the soundtrack, you'd think I was making with the snark again, wouldn't you? And yet...Smashmouth. "All-Star." Couldn't possibly make that up. "No, no, trust me. The baseball cap and the hoodie and the handheld camera and the fifteen billion extra people crowding the hallways like it's the Pope's funeral aren't enough to differentiate. I want period detail. ...Period detail! It's 1999, come on! What do you mean we can't get Regis and the Pets.com sock puppet? ¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!" Lovesick Matty the smitten teenager is bringing something fresh and leafy to Harriet's dressing room. Is that a fern? He sure does know how to be romantic. Harriet is gracious enough about it -- "It's great, 'cause they like shade!" -- and continues to demur as Matt goes on about writing a sketch for her. She says that he doesn't even know what she's good at. Oh, but Matt does, because he's been obsessively watching her audition tape over and over and over again. He doesn't even try to hide the fact that he's totally obsessively fixated on Harriet after, like, two days. He's impressed that she can sing, too. The shot they have right now -- Harriet at a water cooler, Matt almost out of frame with his back to the camera -- has Matt's face reflected in a mirror that's kind of just hanging out on the table with the paper cups. No idea why the mirror is there, but I should commend the direction of this episode for taking what ends up being a rather played-out gotcha of an A-plot and really throwing some visual panache into it. Harriet corrects him by saying that she can "act, too" -- she's a singer by training. Matt says he didn't know that. "Oh the things you don't know," says Harriet. "You wouldn't want to know." Matt thinks she means something salacious, so he tries to explain that no vice of hers is really going to shake him.

And on a completely different note, why doesn't Matt tell you about this article he's read! He starts off with a thunderously blunt reference to the "next Presidential elections, Gore vs. Bush or McCain..." Got all that? It's 1999, and the upcoming election will be for President and will be contested between Al Gore and either George W. Bush or John McCain. Just in case the entire audience somehow came down with Alzheimer's at some point in the last seven years. So Matt's entire ensuing speech is just filled with clunky references to whackjob Christians and Matt shoving his foot progressively farther into his mouth. Matt's point is that they at Studio 60 "have to start mocking these people." I love the idea of Matt Albie as the Cassandra of 1999, yelling from high upon a mountaintop about the religious right, and how if only he'd been allowed to make fun of them, things wouldn't have turned out so bad in 2000 and beyond. Why didn't we listen?! He pitches a sketch about a "crazy Christian radio host," which begins to clear up that long-forgotten mystery (it's like Lost only nobody cares because they weren't all that invested in it to start), and finally Harriet has to shut him up long enough to say that she's one of those "honey-crusted nutbars" who believe in God and angels and hypocrisy and all that. Matt's like, "Um...seriously?" And then he asks if he just offended her. "Are you kidding me?" she says, still kind of shocked at just how thoroughly he hacked up her belief system. The tricky handheld 1999 camera (homage to Blair Witch?) slowly backs away as Matt apologizes and asks if this is what she meant by the things he doesn't know about her. By the time she gets to "Weren't you happier when you thought I was talking about drugs?," we're out in the hallway and can barely see either of them.

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Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

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