This week’s Studio 60 status report: Tom’s brother? Still in AFGHANISTAN, still being held prisoner. Jordan? Still in the hospital (though we didn’t see her at all), still not out of the woods medically — but at least her daughter was delivered, premature but relatively healthy. Danny? Still engaged to Jordan, still pacing nervously about the hospital. Mary Tate? Still pitching that risky scheme of sending in a professional kidnap and ransom team to rescue Tom’s brother and his fellow airmen. Aaron Sorkin? Still hung up on flashbacks to October 2001, when the kind of censorship battles he relishes were raging, and when the stakes of the sketch show’s backstage drama were still high and compelling.
Now that Studio 60 is racing toward Sopranos-like oblivion, Thursday night’s episode, “K&R Part II,” felt like it was in a holding pattern, circling the runway. There are still lots of loose plot strands and only a couple episodes left to tie them all up. But if this episode didn’t advance any of them much beyond last week’s “K&R Part I,” it still kept viewers in a state of nail-biting suspense for an hour, something this show has seldom been able to do.
One new development: a PR disaster created by Simon (D,L. Hughley,pictured). Tom sent him to talk to one of the reporters camped outsidethe studio, to debunk the hurtful rumor that Tom and his brother hadbeen estranged. Bad idea — remember how Simon’s indiscreet talk causedtrouble for Tom during his arrest in Nevada, or for Matt and Harrietwhen he spoke to the Vanity Fair reporter? What was supposed to be aquiet leak to a single sympathetic reporter turned into an impromptupress conference, climaxing in a televised rant in which Simon blastedthe assembled journalists as vultures with short attention spans and anobsession with the trivial. As with the Wes Mendell rant that began theseries, one could hear Sorkin’s own voice. For Simon and the rest ofthe Studio 60 staffers, it was a moment that looked like careersuicide — but also a moment that made for great drama for those of usekeeping score at home.
Questions: Will Jordan live? If she doesn’t, will Danny lose thedaughter he’s started bonding with to her biological father? How willthe show staffers and the NBS network fix the mess Simon has createdfor them? What did Lucy read that made her smash the computer? WillMatt and Harriet ever — nah, I’ve truly stopped caring about that one.And how will the series draw to its close?