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The bell tolls for 'Studio 60'

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185345__perry_lIs Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip back at death’s door? For a while, it appeared the show had been saved from cancellation, thanks to NBC’s order for a full season’s worth of episodes, a slight uptick in the ratings, and Aaron Sorkin’s apparent recognition that his Monday night dramedy needed a change in direction. But this afternoon, there comes a press release from NBC that, if you read between the lines, suggests the series may be gone for good by the end of the month.

The press release announces the March 5 debut of the drama The Black Donnellys in Studio 60‘s timeslot. Now, that alone doesn’t mean that Studio 60 is never coming back. But the same press release also notes that 30 Rock is giving up its space in March to Andy Richter’s new comedy, Andy Barker, P.I., but is returning after just one month, on April 19. There’s no fixed date for Studio 60 to resume; the release says merely that it “will return later this season on a date to be determined.” Well, maybe it will, or maybe it’ll come back in the summer to burn off the remaining episodes—or maybe NBC will air them only over the Internet.

Studio 60 gets a lot of flak on EW.com, including some from me in my TV Watch column, prompting some readers to ask why I write about the show every week if I hate it so much. I don’t hate it, but I find it incredibly frustrating. All that talent—Sorkin, the blue-chip cast (led by Matthew Perry, pictured)—and all those lofty aspirations, marred by weak execution, lazy writing, dramatic issues that are hard to care about, and a lack of verisimilitude (these characters are comedy professionals, so where’s the funny?). There are occasional laughs, and occasional moments of brilliance, but apparently not enough of them to keep people watching. Still, I (and many of you, I’m sure) keep tuning in every week, hoping that this will be the week the show finally lives up to its potential  for greatness. Better hurry up, Studio 60; you may have only four more weeks to dazzle us.

addCredit(“Matthew Perry: Mitch Haaseth”)

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