So that we understand WHICH pseudo-SNL show we are talking about, this is the one done by ex-West Wing Producer Aaron Sorkin, starring that one guy from West Wing and that other guy from Friends. Also, it has a guy who used to be on thirtysomething an eon ago, a guy who used to be on Wings an eon ago, D.L. Hugely, and that hot chick Amanda Peet. It RESEMBLES that other show ("30 Rock") ALSO coming up on NBC in the SAME season, but that one is a comedy, starring ex-SNLer Tina Fey, the bilious Alec Baldwin, and Tracy Morgan (who plays a guy named "Tracy Jordan"--apparently so Morgan can remember his name ).
Anyway, back to Studio 60. I recently saw the pilot. So, I won't be spoilerific, but will only speak in generalities.
The show is deeply ironic, because it presents a situation which doesn't just roughly parallel NBC and SNL--it directly does. It's about a show which isn't funny anymore, because the network is dumbing it down. I found myself goggling that the NBC execs either didn't realize, or care, that Sorkin was apparently actually talking about them, and then DARING them to show this in a primetime fall slot on their network.
Of course our hero protagonists come in to save the day, and I won't ruin the why or how of that, but even with THAT setup you can tell that the writing is on the wall in terms of Sorkin getting ready to fire both barrels at the very network who is once again employing him. And... either he will actually say what he wants to and this show MIGHT be amusing for a while, or he will check himself and we will want to permanently delete this from our TiVO recording routine by the tenth show in.
Anyway, the cast is good, I suppose. Amanda Peet is kind of eponymous in Hollywood in a way which doesn't really speak well of her lasting power in any one show, but she actually does a pretty good job here. She plays the new young, pretty, but obviously ruthless Network President (but don't let the title fool you--she has a whole bunch of bosses we get to meet right off the bat) as cocky and confident, and its actually quite refreshing to see a woman playing the role of a rogue, because she's definitely playing it that way. Steven Weber is her big boss--he's obviously the Chairman of the Board of the parent corporation of the fictional media group which owns this equally fictional network. Its hard to get a bead on the guy. Weber doesn't really give much but the predictable "hard @ss boss" vibe this early on. Most of the fictional show-within-a-show is kind of irrelevant to us (for example, early on we see the SAME two guys who play President Bush and Dick Cheney on SNL, doing the same on this fictional show, but that fact is totally dismissed and we never see or hear from them again...), but DL Hugely and Sarah Paulson are featured as more fleshed out characters. We also get people like Evan Handler and Timothy Busfield thrown in there as well in smaller roles.
The two main leads, Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry are playing so far, one episode in, on pure comic charisma, and I'm not sure how long it will hold up. Perry is playing his half of the equation a bit too far over the top, and one hopes Aaron Sorkin get put a leash on him. After all he's NOT playing a comedian on the show--he's supposed to be a kind of Lorne Michaels figure. Or maybe a Dick Ebersol figure--I don't know yet. Whitford's issue is that to me his performance seemed I don't know... kind of flat. He looked like he constantly needed a roll of TUMS, and while I understand he did that on West Wing too, it gets on your nerves here. Perry, at least, seems to have some chemistry with Peet, so maybe that will rescue things a bit. Or maybe not, since Sarah Paulson is supposed to be Perry's "ex" on the show, as well as a comedian on the show-within-the-show.
One thing which WILL piss off a few people is the source of the conflict between the "Studio 60" show and the network. It turns out to be a bit dumb. As does the source of the conflict between Perry and his ex. Both are legit issues, but they are handled very clumsily in this script.
My main feeling is that if Sorkin gets more vicious, more specific, more biting... this show could pick up in later episodes. If he wimps out? That's right. More free space on your TiVo.