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Studio 60 Fodder

Studio 60: What Kind of Day Has It Been

If it's the end of season 1, this must be "What Kind of Day Has it Been?"

Although the NBC episode replay thinks it's "What Kind of Day it Has Been," demonstrating for a final time their commitment to this program.

The episode opens at 3:55 a.m. with Harriet and Danny (who has grown a lot of stubble in the few hours since the end of "K&R part III") dozing. Matt comes into the waiting room, and Danny lets Harry's head fall on the chair. Good shot!

Danny worries that people on the East Coast are watching Simon going off the rails, as it's 7 a.m. there. He then takes Matt to see the baby. Danny gets adorably paternal, and Matt is stunned. Er, by the baby, not Danny's paternal side. Danny's also thrilled because the baby scored 90% on her very firstest ever test. The point she missed was grimacing. Evidently it doesn't bother her too much when they touch her with something cold. Matt and Danny joke around about them calling her "Baby Girl McDeere," and they display some of that terrific chemistry that I never got enough of and that I am already missing dearly.

Matt tells Danny about the current efforts to buy Tom's brother back. Danny says now he's involved too. Matt also very reluctantly tells Danny he has to get Jordan to sign the papers to name him the baby's legal guardian. Aaron Sorkin briefly screws with the audience by having Danny say that Jordan is "definitely gonna die" before adding "just not tonight." Damn you, Sorkin!

Danny, understandably, doesn't want to talk about it or even consider the possibility that he might lose the baby if anything happens to Jordan. There is some terrific acting in this scene. In fact, perhaps because they knew this was the last hurrah, the entire cast seems to be acting their asses off in this episode. After insisting that Matt go back to the theater and take care of everything there, he tells Matt to ask Mary if Jordan's signature will be legal at all when she's doped-up on morphine and coming out of anesthesia. There's a slow, sort of sad slide to credits.

Danny gives a pretty succinct recap of the last four episodes (give or take) to Harry, then says this can't be his life. It probably can.

Capt. Boyle (Tom's brother's commanding officer, still on hand to comfort Tom) is watching TV. The news anchor announces that the video of the Taliban members standing in front of the body of one of the kidnapped airmen is probably fake. Tom mentions that it looks real. Capt. Boyle points out that if it were Airman Valdez, they would be showing his face. He also tells Tom how al Jazeera verifies whether these tapes are real.

Tom says that he has started the process of getting the private company to rescue Mark (his little brother). The two of them have a very tense exchange about how nice it is for Tom to be rich and how the Army isn't "working out" for Tom and Mark. Capt. Boyle reiterates that Tom should not do it. If he does, he's giving money to the terrorists, funding their operations, and giving them incentive to do this again, making the war more dangerous for other members of the military over there. He also says that if Tom does get Mark back through the private company, Mark will coldcock him one because this is what he signed up for. Tom points out that no, it's really not. He's not going to fail his brother, and Capt. Boyle says that using private Kidnap and Ransom security is going to do just that. These boys are not getting along well.

Back in Danny's office, Jack comes back, surprised to find that Simon has not run off. Simon says he's calm, but he's still not going to apologize for accidentally allying himself with al Qaeda. He also says he wants in on whatever they're cooking up for Mark. He wants to be the first one to give money for the ransom. Jack tells him he's going to need to keep his money. He then tells him that one apologizes a lot when one is married. And he's getting divorced because he's tired of saying he's sorry.

Simon wants to know what Jack meant when he said that Matt and Danny lost their jobs back in the day because Jack kept his promise. He says he should have just pulled the plug on the Karl Rove in Hollywood sketch. Instead, he did what he does.

We have a flashback. This time it actually says it's five years earlier. I think that's the first time in the four episodes where we've been having these flashbacks that they've said so. Matt comes in to his office. Harriet is sitting with her feet up on his desk. He tells her that when Jack called Wes to put his muscle on Matt and Danny, Wes was asleep and the nurse wouldn't wake him up (Wes Mendel, if you'll recall, was recovering from a heart attack, which is sort of how this mess got started in the first place). Matt is confident that Wes will tell Jack to screw himself and not insist that Matt and Danny apologize or fire them.

Harry starts to challenge Matt. In the course of this, she utters "oy." Matt suggests she never do it again. Hey, she's at least as convincing as he is (I love Matthew Perry, but he just can't stop being so...goy). She wonders if things would be different if Al Gore were the president and had sent his envoy out to Hollywood to talk about how the entertainment industry could help. Matt realizes that he wouldn't have a problem with that at all. He's made peace with the fact that that's totally hypocritical. He says his government has contempt for him. He wonders if Harry was offended by the sketch, and Danny calls him away.

Wes has called back. He's going to apologize in a press release. Matt's angry that Wes caved, and Danny wants him to let it go. They have to do this week's show.

Back in the present, Danny gets a call on a pay phone from Matt. Matt and I both had no idea that there were still pay phones, let alone pay phones that receive incoming calls. Danny says cell phones aren't allowed in that part of the hospital.

Suzanne is going to bring over the papers naming him the baby's legal guardian. Mary Tate, Hot Lawyer That We Don't Get To See Tonight, says that if someone contests the legality of Jordan signing the papers when she's that doped-up, it could be a problem, but it's better than nothing. Matt says that Jordan would be counting on Danny to do this.

Harriet brings food, which causes Danny to have a flashback. Matt comes into his office, says he talked to Wes, and he's going to have to quit; they're getting bullied. Danny points out that they're this close to having the show themselves. Matt insists he's quitting.

Danny goes up to Jack's office. He tells Jack they have to come up with a better solution than Wes apologizing because Matt just quit. Jack is sure they'll muddle through somehow. Danny says Matt has been the show for the last two years. He also says that Jack doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. Wes is basically just a stuffed shirt. Danny seems stunned when Jack says that he knows Danny and Matt are patriots. Danny (always one to think before speaking) shoots back with, "Screw friendship, screw honor, screw patriotism; we just lost the franchise." Jack says Matt will come back. Danny says if Matt leaves, it will take an extraordinary event to get him back (Irony!). Danny wonders what exactly Jack said to Wes.

Back at the theater, Harriet is freaking out that Matt quit. Danny answers "yeah" to most of her questions. How very Sorkinesque of him. Harry wants Danny to get Matt back, and Danny says that if Matt's out of the building, that's it; he's gone. Danny says he really isn't being casual about all this. And then he tells her that he's quitting, too. Harry tells him that this is a career decision not to be made in two minutes. He says it didn't take the whole two minutes. He says that Matt has been let down by everyone and is still standing. And Danny's going to stand with him.

In the present, Danny tells Harriet he can't believe it took him that long to stand with Matt. He also wonders why Matt and Harry never got it together; they never really tried. Harry reveals that Matt is the only one she ever really loved, but she thinks Matt will never forgive her for not quitting too. Danny says that Harriet is the only one that Matt ever loved. He also tells her that after she said she wanted to sleep with Luke last winter, he started writing the show high. Okay, Danny is clearly not to be trusted with secrets.

We briefly see Suzanne as she brings Danny his legal papers. Danny tells Street Wise African American Nurse (as opposed to Grumpy Nurse from "K&R Part II") that he needs to be thoroughly cleaned up so he can go see Jordan. Street Wise African American Nurse tells him he has to wash his hands and wear a mask. He's a little put out that that's all it takes, but he agrees to it. However, before he gets the chance, Junior Emergency Doctor takes him into another room to have a Serious Talk. Solemn music plays, Harriet whispers, "Oh, God, come on," and the audience freaks out while we go to commercial.

We come back from the ad to find Jordan waking up. Danny and Junior Emergency Doc are in the room with her. She says she can't remember anything, so Danny puts the baby in her arms to remind her. Hey, look! The baby can be touched!

He proudly tells her that the baby scored a 9 out of 10 on the Apgar test. He tells her they'll work on that grimace thing, and JED worries that the baby may have a little to much pressure at home.

As an aside, your humble blogger's humble day job involves typing up doctor visit reports all day, many of which involve labor and delivery. She had actually forgotten that the Apgar scale goes up to 10. She's not sure she's ever seen anyone get above a 9. So Baby Girl McDeere doesn't need to worry. Except, of course, about that complex her parents are going to give her.

Danny also gives Jordan back her engagement ring. She makes JED make himself useful by fetching her bag. It turns out Jordan has adoption papers she wants Danny to sign. She says she didn't know Danny was going to propose; she had just been hoping ever since they first met. Would that be when she blackmailed him with the fact that he'd failed his drug screen? That's some good marriage/father material right there. And wife material, too, come to think of it.

JED makes himself useful again by giving Danny his pen. Danny signs the form, then leans in to kiss Jordan, while JED watches in sentimental jealousy or something.

Jordan is all teary as she tells Danny she wants to name Baby Girl after her grandmother, Rebecca. He says that "Rebecca McDeere" is a nice name. But he likes it even better when he reads that the adoption form lists her as "Rebecca Tripp." He leans in and kisses her again. Baby Girl Rebecca McDeere Tripp would be watching all this if she weren't totally passed out.

Ladies and gentlemen, Amanda Peet (And Junior Emergency Doctor).

Over in Danny's office, Jack has found out that Jordan is okay and celebrates with more booze. He suggests Simon celebrate by apologizing. Simon suggests that would be akin to a minstrel show, that it has to be harder because he's black, and that some people consider blacks to be borderline Americans anyway. He then says the reason Jack has been sitting there all night is because he feels guilty about what happened with Matt and Danny five years ago. Jack says he wasn't the bad guy, and everything isn't McCarthyism. He waxes philosophic about the McCarthy era and the fact that we'll never know who, back then, gave a damn. He mists up a little about it. He reveals that he actually liked the Karl Rove sketch. He then says that anyone with half a brain knows that Simon didn't mean what he said to the press earlier, and there is no reason why he should have to apologize. Simon thanks Jack and announces that he will, in fact, apologize.

Jack chases after him, telling him not to. The two of them have a pretty hilarious walk-and-talk, and Jack offers to beat Simon up. Jack is, of course, pretty drunk. Again. So it could be a pretty quick fight. Suzanne comes zipping through, telling them that something is going on with Tom's brother. Again there is ominous music as we go to commercial, and the audience freaks out. Again.

Matt jogs past Capt. Boyle on his super secure government cell phone into his office, where Alex, Samantha, Cal, and Andy are looking bored and/or worried. Tom is still freaking out. He's going to go ahead with the Mary Tate's kidnap and ransom company. Jack and Simon come in past Jeannie, who also looks bored and/or worried. Lucy and Suzanne are in the room too, and I imagine Dylan is around, though you never actually see him in this scene.

Tom says there was just a report on the news that jets and attack helicopters are being scrambled out. Simon and Tom don't know what that means, but Jack knows: The prisoners are dead, and they're going in to bomb the place. Capt. Boyle finally comes back into the room, and Tom looks for confirmation from him. The captain says he'll answer, but first does he want to talk to his brother on the phone? It takes several tries before it sinks in that Mark is alive (as well as the guy they were saying was dead) and on his way back. Tom mists up. I mist up, too. Lucy also mists up, and there is much rejoicing.

Matt walks out along the outside of his office. As he walks past the control booth, he and Cal knock on the window at each other. Cal looks like an excited kid.

Matt comes down the spiral staircase as lights are turned out behind him in the theater. He sits on a step and breathes, "Thank you, God." Harriet does a very bad impression of the Voice Of God, and they catch each other up on what's happened with Tom and Jordan.

Harry wants to know if Matt's been doing drugs. She's glad when he doesn't lie to her about it, and then she slaps him. She says she's the one person he doesn't keep that sort of thing from. They hug. And then they kiss. And it's a much more comfortable kiss than some of their kisses have been in the past. Like, I could maybe buy it this time. He says he loves her, and they continue to make out. Harriet says they can't do this; he told her he couldn't be the boss and be with her at the same time. Matt says he may have been wrong about that.

Herb The Announcer wanders by, and Matt asks him if it's a problem for him if Matt dates Harry. Herb seems confused by the whole thing.

Dylan and Alex come by, and Matt asks the same thing. They don't. He asks Samantha, and as long as she doesn't have to date him, she doesn't care. Jeannie wants to know if she can still sleep with him. Harry says no. Jeannie says Andy can sleep with her. Andy seems nonplussed about it. I'm going to miss Andy, too. Harry wonders why they couldn't have done that nine months ago. Because otherwise, Harry, there wouldn't have been a show. Suzanne, Simon, Tom, and Lucy have trickled in too.

Danny comes in with cigars for all. Tom gets two because he got his brother back. Cal comes down and interprets for a weepy Lucy. So we don't get to hear her pretty accent at all. Danny says no one is surprised that Matt and Harriet are dating. He hugs Simon. Tom is going to go to Germany. Lucy wants to go too, but Danny says they need to start again with a full writing staff on Monday. Well, she could go to Germany and turn right around and come back. Okay, that's no fun. And since the Concorde doesn't run anymore, I'm not even sure it could be done. But Lucy actually seems okay with not getting to go anyway. He tells the cast he'll see them all on Monday, and they go their separate directions.

Ladies and gentlemen, Timothy Busfield and Merritt Weaver.

Ladies and gentlemen, John F. Carpenter (Herb The Announcer), Mark McKinney, Camille Chen, Ayda Field, Simon Helberg.

Ladies and gentlemen, D. L. Hughley.

Ladies and gentlemen, Nate Corddry and Lucy Davis.

Ladies and gentlemen, Nate Torrence.

Harry and Matt make out. Danny tells them he's all in favor of it, but not in front of him. Hear, hear! Harriet says she's going to go get some stuff from her dressing room (marital aids?) and leaves Matt with a kiss.

Ladies and gentlemen, Sarah Paulson.

Matt wishes Danny mazel tov. Seriously, Sarah Paulson's Yiddish really isn't any less convincing than Matthew Perry's. In this spirit, Danny says Gesundheit.

Matt says everything is unbelievable. Danny wonders if Harry and Matt will actually stay together this time. Matt doubts it, but they'll always come back. Danny suggests they actually come back faster than they have in the past. He also thanks Matt for keeping everyone together. He's going back to the hospital. Matt pats Danny's shoulder and goes up to his office. Well, at least he has couches up there, so Harriet won't be completely out of luck. Danny tells Matt to go home. Matt wants to get a head start on next week's show, and he's actually feeling good. We get a final bit of the Matt/Danny chemistry that was always some of the best parts of the show.

Danny tells Matt he loves him. Matt makes a joke. Then he tells Danny he loves him, too.

On the studio floor, Danny lights up his cigar and turns out the work light, leaving him very artfully back-lit. He jauntily walks back stage.

Ladies and gentlemen, Bradley Whitford.

Up in a largely dark office, Matt sits at his desk and stares at the darkened Clock O' Doom. He walks up to it, smiling. He turns the Clock O' Doom on and pats it. "I'm gonna make a friend out of you yet." He smiles, and the screen goes black.

Ladies and gentlemen, Matthew Perry.

I enjoyed this episode, though I don't think it was nearly as strong as the four the preceded it. And actually, as fluffy as it was, I really liked "The Disaster Show," so I'm tempted to say this wasn't as strong as that episode, either. Part of the problem is that they just tried to tie up too many loose ends at once. I'm tempted to say that they should have tried to resolve at least one of the stories in "K&R Part III," but they really needed to end at the same time. If they could have, what would have been really good is a two-hour finale. I know, I know; we're lucky we got an actual finale. But I think it might have helped not to feel quite so rushed.

Interestingly, as I recall, The West Wing version of "What Kind of Day Has it Been" was one of the least popular of that show's first season (it was the only one that Aaron Sorkin had planned out ahead of time, and the general consensus was that it was better when he didn't plan too far out). This isn't to say that that episode was bad; that entire season was excellent; it was just less excellent than the others. And I sort of feel that way about this episode. It wasn't the best episode, but it was far from the worst. It just had a whole lot of work to achieve in a very short amount of time.

Everyone really did an excellent job with their final outing, but there were a few outstanding performances. For the fifth episode in a row, Nathan Corddry stunned me. I loved him on The Daily Show, but I had no idea he had such amazing drama chops. Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford, of course, do terrific. Steven Weber turned in a terrific performance, and I didn't really know he had that in him either. James Lesure (Capt. Boyle) also gives an impressive performance. The scene between him and Nate Corddry in the first act is tremendously powerful.

Now that I've complained that they tried to do too much in a short amount of time, I am sorry we didn't get to see more of the rest of the show-within-the-show's cast. I'm especially sorry we didn't get to see more of Cal. Also, I could always stand to see more of Andy. And Lucy, for that matter. The same is true for Suzanne. We didn't need to see Mary Tate, Hot Lawyer, but it was a little odd that we never saw her at all. Also notably absent was Darius. Additionally, but I would like to have seen Wilson White one last time. He really doesn't fit into the story line, but I sort of wondered what happened to him after the vote of no-confidence. I'm also sorry that Simon didn't have meatier material for this last episode. He had one pretty good scene, but we do know D. L. Hughley can do more intense work, and we just didn't get to see it this time.

I am sorry that we'll never get to see how the FCC fine story line would have played out, or the Macao merger or the sexual harassment case. It would have been interesting (and possibly Emmy-worthy) to watch Matt actually try to deal with fighting his narcotic addiction. I'm especially sorry that we're losing out on the Matt/Danny chemistry and the Tom/Simon chemistry. Both duos were terrific together, and neither got enough use.

So, here are your humble blogger's plans: I did mini-recaps, not full reviews, for five of the final six episodes. I am hoping in the near future to do longer reviews. However, that depends on how long they stay up at the NBC site. But there were a whole lot of smarty-pants things I wanted to say but didn't have the time. And I live for the smarty-pants comments.

I also owe a lot of responses to people who have commented in. I'd also like to do a final wrap-up/where are they now/where will they be next post. And then I plan/hope to be back with a new series next fall, but that isn't decided yet. Whatever happens that way, it won't be as good as an Aaron Sorkin show. More's the pity.

But first, I'm going to have to dig out all my other "What Kind Of Day Has It Been" episode DVDs.

Ladies and gentlemen, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

Posted by on June 30, 2007 1:34 AM
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