Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The "Studio 60" Drinking Game

[not the usual amount of hyper-linkage on this one, 'cause I just don't feel like it]

First of all: the Minnesota Twins are going to the playoffs!

Hopefully there won't be too many close games, because I just can't handle them. When they played the Yankees in the ALDS in 2004, I was pretty much forced to go a beer an inning. It looks like they'll be playing the Yankees in 2006 as well, so I'll have to stock up.

Now. To business. For all intents and purposes, the illustrious title of The Best Show on TV no longer belongs to "Big Brother." I'm not ready to award the title to anyone else just yet though, because "Veronica Mars" hasn't started yet, I've only seen one episode of "Heroes" (which I quite liked; having said that, the "scenes from next week" pretty much blew the episode itself away), "Boston Legal" and "The Office" are still around and after a pilot I merely liked and a second episode I loved, I'm waiting to see just how good "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" ends up being.

In the meantime, though, we can amuse ourselves with the "Studio 60" drinking game I invented. It's based on the premise that if you've been exposed to a lot of Aaron Sorkin's work, you can see certain themes reappear from time to time. And by "certain themes," I mean "chunks of dialogue or big plot points," and by "reappear" I mean "be lifted verbatim and plugged into a different show/movie/play." This isn't necessarily even a criticism; I've enjoyed pretty much everything Sorkin's ever done. But it happens a lot.

Quick detour: I've enjoyed -- and I suspect I will continue to enjoy -- Sorkin's work immensely. Still, ever since that story where he was caught with mushrooms in his luggage at the Burbank airport, I can't look at him the same way. Not because he was doing drugs; I've had brushes enough with addiction and substance abuse to where I have a degree of sympathy for people who deal with that. And not because he was trying to carry illicit substances in his luggage through an airport; setting aside the idea of whether most drugs should be legal, I could care less if an adult wants to bring some 'shrooms with him to Vegas for the weekend. No, I could never look at Sorkin the same way because, apparently, while the whole incident was taking place, he fainted.

He fainted. He God-damned fainted!

Since then, I've never been able to think of "Aaron Sorkin" without thinking: "dandy." He's a colossal dandy! Well, maybe he isn't, but, I can't think of him without "dandy" popping into my head. His name and the word "dandy" are inextricably linked in my mind. I've actually got a whole stable of people like that, people who I can't really think of without thinking of a very specific word or phrase. "Clueless hunk Paul Rudd." "Famed knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm." "Handsome actor George Peppard" (that's thanks to Letterman). Harry Truman always goes with "feisty ex-haberdasher," and I can't think of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. without thinking in my head (with a comical Southern accent) the phrase, "that was the only time I ever saw my daddy cry."

Plus, no one ever seems to bring this up and I can't figure out why, and, I'm not into dudes or anything (I mean, it's fine if you are, but, I'm not), but, Aaron Sorkin is gorgeous. Just sayin'.

Anyway. End of detour. So, like I said, the "Studio 60" drinking game is based on Aaron Sorkin's self-plagiarism. It's been too long since I saw The American President, and it didn't particularly resonate with me, but, between "SportsNight," "The West Wing," A Few Good Men and even his 1990 one-act play "Hidden in This Picture" (which anyone within the sound of my voice should do absolutely anything -- and I mean anything -- to get a hold of), there's a lot to work with. Basically, the way the "Studio 60" drinking game works is that whenever we get some Sorkin self-plagiarism, we drink.

So, when you're watching "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip":

Whenever anyone expresses an appreciation for Gilbert & Sullivan, take a drink.

Whenever anyone says, "I can tell you're opening up to me right now, and I think that's great..." take a drink.

Whenever anyone disparages Christianity, take a drink.

Whenever a male character gets obsessed with the minutiae of a quirky task because he just discovered that his dad has been having an affair for the last 20 years, take a drink.

Whenever you see Clark Gregg, chug the rest of your drink (this rule also applies to the David Mamet Drinking Game).

Whenever a character whose last name begins with "Mc" appears on screen, take a sip of your drink (we don't want anybody to get alcohol poisoning).

Whenever a parent tells his child that all s/he has to to do make that parent proud is "come home at the end of the day," take a drink.

Whenever a senior citizen uses the word "feckless," drink everything in the room.

Have fun!

I'm hoping "Studio 60" gets the honor, not because I particularly feel it deserves it over "The Office," but because I'm interested in hearing more about what improved between episodes one and two for you.

I thought both were great, but I'm also me - and my take on things like this is notoriously unreliable.
I think this season's battle for Best Show honors will be compelling, but I think for now we can all agree on this: last night's My Name is Earl goes on a Best... Episode... EVER list for reasons that have nothing to do with writing, acting or comedic value. My oh my.
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