As news of this series started to drift out I became more and more excited about this show; the cast, the crew, the budget, it seemed to have everything. I even went so far as to say that I didn’t see how it could fail. A year later and the show is cancelled, so what on earth happened?
Many of the criticisms launched at the show are valid. The comedy show within the show just wasn’t funny enough, it aged badly between filming and airing and will age even more in re-runs. The second main issue I had was with the two main romances – Matt and Harriet were just annoying and Danny and Jordan felt rushed and a little silly. The other main criticism the press had with the show always felt irrelevant to me – they couldn’t seem to get over the fact that Aaron Sorkin was projecting his own issues and experiences onto his characters, but who cared? If people didn’t know that was the case, it made no difference to watching the show, so why keep harping on about it?
So the good – when this show was good, it was breathtakingly, rewind-the-dvd amazing. While they missed the boat with the two main romantic relationships, a couple of the friendships were brilliant. Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford were a perfect partnership, a brilliantly funny, touching double act. Bubbling in the background was another fine pairing in DL Hughley and Nathan Corddry (Simon and Tom). Two other superb characters managed to play well with just about anyone they got a line with – Timothy Busfield’s Cal and Steven Weber’s Jack Rudolf stole every scene they appeared in.
The plots are… hit and miss at best. Aaron Sorkin cannot write soap opera – that’s why the romances just don’t feel right, they lack the soul. Sorkin seems to need to believe in what he’s writing, he needs to put his soul in it, and it just wasn’t there for the romance. But when he’s good, he’s really good and he can make me cry and laugh at the same sentence.
But the show is over and no one seems surprised. None of the cast and crew seem to have done anything to fight for the show, to defend it against criticism or to react to it. I haven’t seen any press from any of them, and if anything the show seemed to say ‘sod em’ and go out of its way to ignore the suggestions for how to improve its appeal and chances of renewal. Part of me respects that, but mostly I’m just sad that such an amazingly talented group of people can’t make a show work.