some time between the weekly and quarterly salad stages of this blog, i got the idea to write a post about the best hollywood satires. see, it was back when entourage was haking its way through it season 3, and the show really wasn’t providing much entertainment value. i didn’t even like it when the guy who plays herc on the wire showed up as dom, vince’s petty criminal friend. in retrospect, the dom’s clunky avarice set the stage for herc’s arc this season, and, as a fan of corporate synergy, i’m willing to assume that the dom character was only invented to give the actor a chance to prepare for season 4 of the wire. and that’s how you write revisionist history.

anyway, with entourage falling in somewhere between mildly entertaining and should-i-be-embarrassed-i-still-watch-this?, i rented a bunch of hollywood satires to keep my love of all things meta going. so in honour of that moment, here’s my take on some of the best of hollywood’s take on hollywood (the tv edition).

this year brought two new shows about shows to the table, both from the same network, and both about sketch comedy shows. i’m of the opinion that the concept for the show doesn’t matter as long as its done well, so i don’t mind nbc’s repetitiveness. i would gladly watch a show about the trials and tribulations of a middle-aged coast guard officer with a fetish for gold teeth, his plucky teenage daughter from his first marriage who has a different after school job every episode, their wacky metallurgist neighbor “krazy kris,” and a ship of bumbling crewman taking adventures up the scenic northeast (a three episode jaunt to bridgeport, ct!), if that show were written by david letterman and starred chris elliot, raven simone, and the guy who played kenny bania on Seinfeld. so again, i have no problem with the existence of both 30 rock and studio 60. except for the fact that they both use numbers in the title, a registered trademark of numb3rs.

After some growing pains,


30 rock has turned into one of the best comedies on the air. after being insufferable at the beginning, tracy morgan’s tracy jordan and jan krakowski have become really funny. they toned down tracy just enough to make him both crazy and funny, and jan’s character’s gotten some good storylines (her movie “the rural juror” was priceless). jack and kenny have faded into secondary characters (which is good as it minimizes the possibility of their overuse) and the writing staff has turned into a good crop supporting characters. between them, tina fey’s boyfriend, and the incomparable chris parnell as Dr. Spaceman, the minor characters are top notch, and the show’s ascent to elite sitcom parallels their comedic rise.

studio 60, on the other hand, is uneven at best. i like it while i’m watching, but I can’t honestly say i’m excited for its return. like a ziggy comic, the show is very preachy. moreover, i couldn’t care less about the late-90’s culture wars. like 30 rock, studio 60 is an ensemble piece, however there seem to be too many characters on studio 60. pick 5 characters and focus on them; they’re all good (with the exception of harriet). sorkin could even pick them out of a hat and it would be a better show, both because he could focus his energies on a core group and the loss of harriet. mostly the loss of harriet.

actually, the biggest problem with the show thus far is that its caught between sports night and the west wing. does it want to be about running the show and inter-office politics/relationships (ala sports night) or about serious social issues and rob lowe’s dashingly handsome self? i’ll leave that up to you to ponder.

this list could go on forever, so i’m going to go with 2 more: action, my summer replacement for entourage, and so noTORIous!

action was way ahead of its time and on the wrong network. on the behind the scenes feature, the creator admitted the show was supposed to be on hbo but he took it to fox to get more money. he smiled saying his greed probably got the show cancelled. as for the show, jay mohr plays peter dragon, a meaner, snarkier, more despicable version of his jerry maguire character. dragon’s a producer at dragonfire films and the show follows his attempts to rebound from a rare mis-step. whether dealing with top hollywood stars, turning prostitutes into his director of development, and stomping on the dreams of writers everywhere, action had all the elements of a great cancelled sitcom. a definate netflix pick.

lastly, so noTORIous. Tori Spelling was really funny as Tori Spelling, the washed up former star of 90210 and daughter of the wealthiest man in hollywood. loni anderson was perfect as her mother, and their relationship is the heart of some of the show’s best humor. the show does a great job detailing the vapidity of hollywood hangers-on and the ridiculousness of c and d list celebrities. the rest of the characters all have their moments, but the show succeeded because of tori’s comedic timing. seriously.