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Studio 60 Fodder

Studio 60: K & R, Part III

Once again, we pick up where we left off at the end of "K&R Part II." It's 2:45 in the morning, and Jack Rudolph is stalking through the halls of Studio 60. He's here to find Simon. He's pretty darn unhappy that Simon yelled at the press, among other things, "No wonder they want to kill us; I live here and I want to kill us."

Jack wants to do something right now, or the replays of Simon's yellings will be all over the TV on Monday. He also wants to know why Simon went to go talk to Leon Cushman (of The Post). Why, because he's a stand-up guy and they have a relationship. However, the rest of the Pack o' Reporters found them. Jack wants to know if the Pack o' Reporters was blocking Simon's escape. Well, no, not really. Simon finally admits that he lost it when a reporter asked if NBS leaked the story to boost the West Coast ratings for the show. Okay, fine. But Jack wants Simon to apologize. Simon refuses.

Jack insists that Simon is going to apologize. And he's never going to work again. Simon tells Jack to fire him or shut up. After giving each other a very tense look, we crash to credits.

During the credits and ensuing commercial break, Jack has found booze. Simon offers to bet Jack their respective paychecks that he won't apologize. Jack takes it; he has total confidence in himself and absolutely none in Simon.

Simon is affronted that the Pack o' Reporters comprises members of the entertainment press covering a hostage situation in Afghanistan. He's also affronted that the hostage situation didn't become news until it turned out that one of the hostages is the brother of a mid-level star. Finally, he's affronted that by making the situation an entertainment story, the Pack o' Reporters put the aforementioned hostages in greater danger. So when someone asked if NBS was manipulating the story for ratings, he blew up.

Jack then asks Simon why he thinks he hasn't fired him. It's because he agrees with Simon. But he's still going to make Simon apologize; they're going to do it right this time. Way back in the day, all Matt and Danny had to do was apologize for a fairly benign sketch. That brings up another issue for Simon; he says Jack broke his word to Matt and Danny, and that's why they lost their jobs. No, Jack says, they lost their jobs because he kept his word. It's time for a flashback.

In the past, Simon is doing the warmup for the first show of their 2001-2002 season. While Simon is warming up the crowd, Matt is doing rewrites. Harriet wants him to drop the Karl Rove in Hollywood sketch, even though it's just dress rehearsal.

Matt explains the deal with Jack, that there are ad reps at the dress rehearsal, and if they balk, the sketch will be cut. Harry points out that even if the sketch gets cut, word will still get out that they did it. She then wonders if Matt isn't doing the sketch to get back at her. Matt makes an unfortunate Jew/Arab joke very loudly. The studio is quiet save for the chirping of some very uncomfortable crickets

Harriet is convinced that the sketch will be cut anyway, so why don't they just not do the sketch at all?

Back in the present, Harry sits next to a very worried-looking Danny (Bradley Whitford gives a lovely performance throughout, usually without saying a word). She's trying to cheer him up with her Holly Hunter impression. He seems underwhelmed.

He catches up with Junior Emergency Doctor. Jordan still isn't clotting, so they're using an experimental medication on her. Danny seems underwhelmed by this, too. JED also reveals that Jordan's condition is critical. Harriet comes back and wants to do some Juliette Lewis for him.

Back at the studio, Mary Tate, Hot Lawyer, runs into Matt. Apparently her people "have a way of moving forward" with the rescue of Tom's brother. Matt's going to get Jack and meet back up with her.

Over in Danny's office, Jack is pointing out that in 1993 Congress apologized to native Hawaiians for overthrowing their kingdom. Simon offers to apologize to Hawaii. Matt fetches Jack, who drunkenly (for a guy that seems to have a glass in his hand in nearly every episode in which we see him, it doesn't seem to take him long) tells Simon that he will apologize.

Mary Tate, Hot Lawyer, wanders alluringly past Capt. Boyle (Tom's brother's commanding officer who is on hand to comfort Tom) while he's on the phone. After he hangs up, he comes into Matt's office where Tom helpfully tells him how bad he is at boosting peoples' confidence.

Capt. Boyle wants to know who the Hot Lawyer is and why she's there at 3 a.m. Tom doesn't know, but he's about to find out. Matt takes him to have a private meeting-in the hallway-with him, Jack, and Mary. Matt says Mary's firm thinks they can buy Mark back. Nate Corddry gives an almost-heartbreaking look at her past the camera. As much as I love Aaron Sorkin's writing (and Mark McKinney's, apparently, as he co-wrote this episode), over the last four episodes some of the best performances have been the unspoken moments. This shot is an eloquent case in point. As is the gesture where, as going into the booth to actually speak privately, Matt puts his hand first on Tom's head and then on his shoulder.

In the booth, Tom is told about Trask Security, the company that handles Kidnap and Recovery/Rescue efforts. Mary does reassure him that Trask does share their information with military intelligence. Capt. Boyle notices the conference through two closed doors. There is way too much glass in this studio. Mary tells Tom their success rate is 50-50. Tom appreciates the offer, but he doesn't want to do anything to interfere with the military's efforts. Just out of curiosity, though, Tom wonders how much the ransom would be. Jack and Matt both insist he not worry about that.

Back in Matt's office again, Capt. Boyle wants to know if Tom knows any good record stores. He then tells Tom not even to consider taking Mary up on her offer. He tells him a story about another case like Tom's that ruined a potential deal between the US state department and the Colombian government and has caused the going rate on ransoms in Colombia to be $11 million. The guys who have Tom's brother are jihadists, and one of the ways they make their money is taking hostages, so Tom is absolutely not to give them any cash.

Capt. Boyle then turns on the TV to see a replay of Simon's rant. He agrees with Jack's earlier assessment that Simon was stupid and says that he should apologize (Er, Simon. Not Jack. Or himself). Tom says Simon won't apologize.

We have another flashback to the end of the dress rehearsal. Harriet still wants Matt to cut the sketch. Matt says the ad reps had no problem with it. Harry says the sketch is the sort where, after the fact, people will realize that it just wasn't that funny. She says that laughter during that sketch was uncomfortable laughter and they shouldn't be making fun of people being patriotic. Matt says he's not; he's making fun of car decals masquerading as patriotism. Harry still thinks he's trying to mock her. However, she does insist that the sketch will lose him his job.

Matt says he's been scared for the last five weeks, and that's too long. He's not going to be scared of this. Harriet's going to go over his head to Danny.

Back in the present, Danny sees JED coming out of the back covered in blood. He reassures Danny and Harry that the blood belongs to someone else. The good news is that the experimental drug stopped Jordan from bleeding out. The bad news is that they think she has a postop infection. They're giving her antibiotics, but if they didn't catch the infection in time, Jordan could go into shock and her organs could shut down. And there's a 25% chance of this happening. Danny tries to push past JED to see Jordan. JED says that A) If Danny has any sort of bug at all, he could make her worse, and B) She's young and healthy and she'll be fine. Harriet offers to teach Danny to pray.

Back at the studio, Jack wants Matt to tell Simon to apologize. As opposed to all the terrific unspoken performances I'm enjoying in this episode, Steven Weber's timing with the dialogue is just beautiful.

Jack explains that the upfronts are coming the following week, when 90% of all advertising time for the next year will be sold (interesting, given that a great variety of the shows at upfronts won't make it through the season, and some-like, I'm guessing, Caveman-won't even make it to November sweeps), and none of the advertisers will be buying time at NBS if they think they employ terrorist sympathizers. Matt says the decision is Simon's to make. Jack then says that this is just like the situation five years ago. Matt could have saved his job then just by apologizing. Matt says Jack should have told the people who were overreacting about the sketch to screw themselves, and that would have saved his job. Again, Jack insists that he never broke his word to Matt and Danny.

There's another flashback. Jack takes Matt and Danny into his office a few days after the show with the Karl Rove sketch. Danny says Wes is still recovering from his heart attack, so they're baby-sitting the show for another week. He tells them that the morning crew for a radio show in Phoenix is furious about Rove sketch, replaying the radio program for them. The show's hosts have declared Matt to be a Friend of Osama's. They then tell their listeners to boycott all of Studio 60's sponsors, listing the companies in question (Interestingly, the show-within-the-show's sponsors are things like Sears and Wal-Mart. By comparison, the show-without-the-show is sponsored by things like higher-end cars. Hmmm...). Jack says the radio show is a problem because it's syndicated into 11 other cities, some pretty major. Matt says the ad reps had no problem with the sketch at dress rehearsal. Well, they sure have a problem with it now.

Jack wants them to apologize. Matt refuses. Jack says he'll fire Danny for sitting next to Matt when he said that if he doesn't apologize. I always knew network suits were twisted and a little bit crazy.

In the present, Tom is being driven a little bit crazy by Capt. Boyle singing Sinatra. Boyle gets a Very Official Phone Call on his secure line (On a cell phone. Apparently the military has phones that are way more secure than my cell). He tells Tom that al Jazeera is going to report that they've executed one of the other airmen and put up video of a victim, but it's all a lie; they haven't killed anyone (Or not recently, anyway). Tom says he's going to get Mary back and give them the money. Boyle says that's what they want; this is what terrorism is. Tom storms down the hall, fuming that it works.

In the hospital chapel, Harriet wants Danny to get on his knees. He wants to know why. She says it's for respect, and he says that he has a problem with a god that needs him to suck up. Harriet says the kneeling isn't for God, it's for him, and the only thing he isn't handed on a silver platter is humility. Danny wants to know why God doesn't just fix it. She doesn't have the answer to that.

Danny says he wasn't handed anything on a platter; he had to work really, really hard and he got what he has because he took action. Harry suggests that praying is the action he can take now. He says it feels really wrong for him to be in the chapel and leaves. Alone, Harriet tells God that Danny did have a few reasonably good points.

Over in Danny's office, Jack has drafted an apology for Simon to read. Now both of them are fairly wasted. Simon says he'll apologize for seeming to sympathize with terrorists when Jack apologizes for the same. He gives money to the Democratic Party, and they're not with Bush, and Bush said you're either with us or against us, so clearly he's a terrorist sympathizer, too. So if Jack apologizes for that and answers a couple other hard questions that really aren't anyone's business, he'll apologize.

We flash back to more of that meeting in Jack's office with Matt and Danny. Danny is trying to be reasonable about it, and wonders if they're responding to a worst-case scenario before it's even happened. Jack says things are blowing up just like he said they would. Danny points out that it isn't even their show; they're just watching it while Wes convalesces. Jack says since it isn't their show, they shouldn't treat it recklessly. Matt points out that no one who would be offended watches the show. It doesn't matter, Jack says; they watch other shows on the network, only they won't once they think the network is unpatriotic. He insists that they apologize or they're fired. Matt says Jack doesn't have that power. He can fire Wes, and Wes can fire them, but he can't fire them. Danny wants everyone to cool down, and Jack sends his secretary to call Wes. Danny gives Matt a bit of a resigned "now what?" look as we come back to the present.

Matt, Jack, Tom, and Mary Tate, Hot Lawyer, looking even hotter in an oversized Studio 60 T-shirt, meet up again in the control booth. Tom doesn't want to commit to anything, but he wants to talk to the security company. They'll have to put him through an identity verification process and then they'll quote him a price. Again, Jack and Matt tell him not to worry about the money. Tom is going to talk to his parents and then get the process started.

Matt and Mary briefly flirt. She then wants to know if Matt talked to Danny about the baby and not bonding before he knows if he'll get to develop a relationship with her. Ever the lawyer, she tells Matt that Danny needs to have Jordan sign papers making him the baby's legal guardian. He says he can't; it's insensitive and ghoulish. He also says that Jordan is a friend of his, too, so he would like her to stop talking like that, thank you very much. Matthew Perry's voice breaks on that line; another excellent performance in an episode full of them. Mary says Danny could lose his daughter and his fiancee in one night, and that doesn't have to happen. Matt asks her to draft up the papers.

Over in the hospital, Danny is watching the baby through the glass at the NICU (It's an actual infant this time!). The look he gives her is just heartbreaking. Again, he says volumes here without speaking a word. At last, he gets on his knees. It finally feels right.

I am both looking forward to and dreading next week's episode. I'm not just dreading it because it's the last one ever, although that is admittedly a huge part of it. But there's a certain freedom in a series finale that doesn't exist with a season finale. There's no worry of fan outrage to keep them from killing off Jordan and Mark Jeter and firing the rest of the cast. Well, okay, there could be fan outrage (I know I'd be outraged), but what are the fans going to do, stop watching? Boycott their sponsors (Ha!)? I'm really hoping that isn't the direction they're going to go, but there's very little actually keeping them from doing it.

I read an article that featured quotes from some person associated with the show. I want to say Mindy Kanaskie (the associate producer), but I'm not sure that's who it was. Regardless, she was talking about the end of the series and said that fans would like it. But I'm not sure I'm comfortable taking that on faith right now.

Also, of course, there are quite a few loose ends to tie up in one 44-minute episode next week. Now, I wasn't sure how they would tie up all the loose ends in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and they managed to do it exceptionally well, particularly in light of how crummy the "first" two episodes were. So there's a chance that they could tie them up really well with next week's episode and leave me even sort of happy. Or as happy as I'm liable to be with the show's finale. Here's hoping.

And then I had this dream last night where the series ended with them going back to Pahrump. Geez, I hope that's not how they handle it.

Posted by on June 23, 2007 2:34 AM
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