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''Studio 60'' Again

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 3, 2006

Here's where I get a little crazed: Last night, it was about 11 p.m. when the bride and I got back from the screening of ''The Departed,'' and I just couldn't relax. Too much Diet Coke at the movie -- it was in one of those cups you could float a paper sailboat across -- and I was just wired from watching and thinking about the movie. So, after a feeble attempt at sleeping, I settled down with my recording of the third episode of ''Studio 60.''

Which didn't help me sleep either.

I fear the wheels are falling off the bus with this one. The biggest reason is that Aaron Sorkin keeps insisting on showing us comedy sketches within the show and it's now absolutely clear that Sorkin can't write sketch comedy. (Maybe he should send a distress call to Tina Fey.) We're supposed to believe that something remarkable is happening with the show, but we have no on-camera evidence of that -- and at some point viewers are going to catch on.

It's my secret hope that the dour, show-ending expression on the face of Matthew Perry -- one of the two best things in last night's show -- means that his character at least knows that the show isn't very good. That it's not just that the ratings will decline, or that the media scrutiny will get more intense. He knows as well that the laughs are artificially generated and will dry up soon enough. But nothing other than Perry's face (and our own view of the sketches) makes that point, so I may be giving it too much credit.

More gripes: An 8-year-old DUI for a network entertainment division president isn't going to generate much of a frenzy -- and a book about her would lie dead on the shelves. The focus-group research was oversimplified. The speech about a DUI being worse than a coke problem was absurdly self-righteous.

Second best thing in the episode (after Perry's performance): The Tina Fey-Alec Baldwin promo for ''30 Rock.'' Now, THAT's comedy.

Maybe this is the late hour and the caffeine talking -- although, based on some conversations with other viewers this morning, I doubt it. Your thoughts?

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