Monday, October 23, 2006

So, despite one being a sitcom and one being a drama, it’s easy to compare 30 Rock and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. They’ve both got numbers in the title, and they’re both set behind the scenes at a Saturday Night Live-style sketch comedy show. And they’re both doing pretty poorly in the ratings. TV Guide says that Studio 60 is being buoyed up by its lead-in, Heroes, but I believe since that report was published, its audience has eroded even further. (Clearly, the plan to try a new episode of Friday Night Lights in the post-Heroes time slot is a vote of no confidence for Studio 60.) And 30 Rock lost a third of its audience between its first and second episodes. I was one of those who came back for the second episode, but I won’t be back for the third.

The thing about 30 Rock is, I just didn’t think it was funny. I use a fairly sophisticated tool for critical analysis of sitcoms: if I laugh at some point during the show, it is probably funny. If I laugh multiple times, it is probably funny more often. And since the “com” in sitcom stands for comedy, and comedy—in the modern sense, anyway—is meant to be funny, then a show that has me laughing more often than not is a successful sitcom.

And I don’t believe I laughed once during 30 Rock’s second episode, so I am showing it the door. This is the first time this season that I have decided to stop watching a TV show, following Desperate Housewives.

And, for those keeping score at home, I did not weaken tonight. I neither watched nor recorded Desperate Housewives; instead I watched Thursday’s episode of Six Degrees. When I finish watching an episode of Six Degrees, I find myself wanting to see the next episode, to find out what happens next and to learn more about the characters. I don’t feel that way about Desperate Housewives any more, so Six Degrees, a show I am not home to watch when it airs, is a better fit in that slot.

And while it is sort of heartening that almost every new show that I’m watching is in danger of being cancelled, I don’t want to find myself with nothing at all to watch. So, I decided to give Jericho a try. Since, you know, it has been picked up for a full season and all. And I liked what I saw. In some ways, it’s a thematic companion to Friday Night Lights. They’re both shows about small towns reacting to disasters that rock them to their cores. In one, it’s the paralysis of the star quarterback in a town where high school football is the one thing that gives the town meaning. In the other, it’s World War III. Or something. And the football one is better made, but languishing in the ratings. But still…

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