This fall’s Entourage (minus the entourage)

We weren’t sure if we’d be able to get beyond the premise of Aaron Sorkin’s heavily hyped new NBC drama, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, about a Saturday Night Live-esque show (also called Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip). Not only because NBC, weirdly, also has an upcoming sitcom with the same premise (30 Rock), but because, in the 14 years since The Larry Sanders Show, we’ve generally had our fill of Hollywood procedurals (e.g., The Comeback, Entourage).

But after screening the first episode of Studio 60, we’re hooked.

The pilot is exhilarating, funny, smart, entirely engrossing, and perfectly cast. In fact, Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry — who play Studio 60 alumni returning to rescue the show after the ouster of its founding executive producer — are so good they almost (almost) had us forgetting their past credits.

Sorkin cultists will recognize the DNA of Sports Night here, but Studio 60 — with its angry, nervy, hyper-political subtext about network TV weenies crumbling under pressure from religious extremists and the FCC — feels close in spirit to his West Wing too.

VIEW an NBC promo for Studio 60

WATCH the premiere on NBC: Monday, September 18th, 10/9c

SEARCH Ask.com for more information on Studio 60

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This fall’s <i>Entourage</i> (minus the entourage)