Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (5 stars)

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

More4, Thu 2 Aug, 10pm

The question was always going to be: how could Aaron Sorkin ever hope to follow up the The West Wing? Answer: by making an almost exact template of that show’s dense visual texture and whiplash pace and dropping it into the even more hectic environs of a notorious satirical television show. Understandably, Sorkin has co-opted some of his former show’s key actors with Bradley Whitford’s Danny Tripp still chipper but less slapstick than his White House Josh Lyman while Timothy Busfield is even more agreeable as the show’s producer than he was as the charming press man who stole CJ’s heart.

But arguably, it’s Matthew Perry who is Studio 60’s revelation. Cast as a peripheral figure on The West Wing, he seems to have finally found in the headstrong writer Matt Albie, a character who can help him escape the Friends straitjacket of Chandler. Had The West Wing never happened, this would be one of the best dramas to have come out of an American network for a very long time. As it stands, it’s still breathtaking.

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