Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Season 1 Episode 3

The Focus Group

Aired Monday 10:00 PM Oct 02, 2006 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
373 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

A scare is sent through the company by a focus group that Matt and Danny's first show rating success might not carry on during the rest of the season.

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  • This is my favorite episode ever. I\'ve now seen the first ten episodes and \"The Focus Group\" is still my absolute favorite.

    This is my favorite episode ever. I\'ve now seen the first ten episodes and \"The Focus Group\" is still my absolute favorite. I\'ll tell you why:

    I always burn the episodes to DVD, so that I can watch them whenever I want. When I watch other episodes again there are always parts I skip, but here\'s the thing in \"The Focus Group\" there\'s absolutely no part I want to skip.

    It\'s really funny and I think it show the audience a lot of interesting sides of each character...

    And the whole storyline about Matt being a chicken (sorry, apparently you're not allowed to write pus-sy-boy) and not being American enough is really funny.moreless
  • Danny and Matt are incharge of the show.

    The whole cast and crew plus producers and all the rest of the sorts are put in a frenzy when they have the threat of the focus groups informative lingering over their heads and the whole studio in this episode. When the threat of power outage hits everyone is put into a double frenzy with all the problems occuring. he show goes well it's fine nothing happens and no one is attacking anyone-- that is until Matt sees Danny dancing with Harriat. He charges him and they both land on the ground on the beach in the dark with tons of people staring.moreless
  • I think this show is amazing.. the fact that the ratings aren't great and there's already speculation about cancellation makes me so sad!

    This was a nother great episode, and I love the connection between Jordan and Matt. About he tells her she has big teeth, very cute. It kind of seems like tehre will be some competition for him between Jordan and Harriet. Maybe. Hopefully. The part about the lights and God liking Harriet was really funny, and the whole fight on the beach between Matt and Danny was great. I love them both. And with Jeannie and her sketch, and them Matt coming in wiht the T-shirt in the end. So funny. Of course they should ahve shown her actually wearing it, but that's ok.

    I hope this show continues, there's such a great cast and I really want it to do well. Plus I can't wait to see what happend with Jordana dn the ex-husband and the book.moreless
  • Best episode yet.

    Best episode yet. There were several jokes that would have been "explained" on other shows but they let us get them or not. That's huge in my book. They give the audience credit for being smart. Loved the two "Broadcast News" quotes with a great Holly Hunter impersonation. They are giving us time to get to know these characters rather than just ramming the info down our throats. I'm a TV cynic but I'm impressed. I'll be more impressed if this lasts more than one season. If it were on cable I'd give it a longer lifespan expectancy.moreless
  • Does this episode foretell the series' demise?

    There’s a certain irony to this episode, but not the kind of irony that fans might enjoy. One subplot centers on the question of audience retention. Basically, everyone’s job rides on a retention rate, from first to second episode, of about 90%. This small matter is treated with life or death seriousness. The irony, of course, is that “Studio 60” has lost more than 30% of its initial audience, and it continues to bleed viewers over each new hour. It’s never a good thing when a show makes the case for its own cancellation.

    The rapid decline of “Studio 60” has left a number of people wondering what the hell happened. This was supposed to be another triumph for intelligent television. Instead, it has become a cautionary tale of the worst kind. Critics point to the fact that the series has already gone after Christians and takes on even more conservatives in this hour. In effect, the series is begging half the country not to watch it, and sure enough, they’re tuning out in droves.

    Let me be clear about this much: the episode had a lot of high points. Most of them were related to characterization. The large ensemble is beginning to shake out to the point where personalities are emerging. The conflicts are evolving nicely, and it’s getting easier to relate to the world of television politics. I still wonder if that world is something the masses would ever want to see, since it shatters certain illusions and confirms certain unsettling suspicions. But I, for one, enjoy seeing what happens behind the curtain. Any dwelling upon the negative is an attempt to identify why the show is struggling, and what needs to be addressed to turn things around.

    Two major issues come to mind when I think about why the series is struggling to get a mainstream audience. The first pertains directly to the characters. To get the mainstream audience to watch, you have to be able to transcend party lines and religious considerations. “Lost” is a hit, for instance, because it manages to cover multiple aspects of society with its cast, and people can relate to their struggles for redemption. It literally has something for everyone.

    As interesting as I find Jordan and her sordid past (and damn, do I like her more and more), and as much as I understand Sorkin’s desire to use Danny as an analogue for his own struggles, a whole lot of people are turned off by what they see as immoral Hollywood excess. Where we see complex business politics playing out in a creative pressure-cooker, they see petty personal hypocrisy. And as I mentioned last week, a whole lot of people find it absurd that a show about a sketch comedy series would be so damn portentous all the time.

    All of which brings me to the second major issue, one that struck me in the previous episode and bothered me even more this time around. The comedy sketches aren’t all that funny. It’s one thing to be intellectual about showing the process behind the scenes, and quite another to be overly intellectual in the comedy sketches. How many of the most memorable sketches from SNL were intellectually satisfying? Most of them were very clever but played broadly. Most of the sketches rehearsed in this episode could easily be spun as “academic, elitist liberal humor”. In other words, it’s only going to play to a select audience.

    Most core fans, those with a knowledge and understanding of Sorkin’s brand of writing, approach this series as intended. It’s wish fulfillment, just as much as “West Wing” was. Sorkin is selling the idea of an intellectually-challenging comedy show as successful, despite all the predictions of doom from network executives. It’s all right there in Wes’ tirade in the pilot. Sorkin is developing a world where all those criticisms about network television need not apply. But that is, in fact, the problem: he’s trying to tell wish fulfillment about television on actual television, and unless things change in the next few weeks, that subplot about the ratings will sound an awful lot like a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    Fans might reasonably suggest that changing the show to address these issues would, in fact, undermine everything that Sorkin is trying to accomplish. And they would be right. I don’t want to see that happen either. But if the fans want to know why the series is struggling, these are two big reasons. This show was never going to be a mainstream success. It doesn’t have the broad appeal or message to strike that instant chord. We are left to hope that the network is willing to live with a modest audience for a very expensive show.

    (As a sidenote: I also have a new podcast associated with my various reviews called “Velocity TV”. Current episodes cover “Studio 60”, so it might be something of interest. Go to if you want to listen!)moreless
Wendy Phillips

Wendy Phillips


Guest Star

John Ennis

John Ennis


Guest Star

Kirstin Pierce

Kirstin Pierce

Marilyn Rudolph

Guest Star

Ayda Field

Ayda Field

Jeannie Whatley

Recurring Role

Simon Helberg

Simon Helberg

Alex Dwyer

Recurring Role

Camille Chen

Camille Chen

Samantha Li

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • All in the Family was one of the shows given as examples of shows that did well after extremly poor focus group tests. This week's Studio 60 host is Rob Reiner, who co-starred on that show.

    • Guest Host: Rob Reiner
      Guest Performer: Gwen Stefani (doesn't actually appear onscreen)

  • QUOTES (14)

    • Jordan: Can I ask? Are you troubled at all by the spectacular lack of success these things have had at predicting success.
      Jack: That's not true.
      Jordan: They blew 'All In The Family'. They blew 'Seinfeld'. They blew 'Hill Street Blues'.
      Jack: Look at the data on ER. Clooney broke the needle.
      Jordan: Yeah, I need a damn focus group to tell me Clooney's good-looking.

    • Danny: It's just, I can't remember sometimes; are you a boy pussy cat or a girl pussy cat?
      Matt: What the hell...
      Danny: You're a boy pussy cat.
      Matt: Look....
      Danny: You're a Pussy Boy!
      Matt: Cause I put a Bush sketch at 12:55?
      Danny: Yeah.
      Matt: You know what else started at 12:55? Wayne's World.
      Danny: Good for them!
      Matt: You think...
      Danny: That you're a pussy boy?

    • (Puts Danny in a headlock and tackles him to the ground)
      Matt: I'm three years younger than you and faster OLD MAN!
      (Danny pushes Matt and rolls him onto his back before sitting on his chest)
      Danny: I'm three years older and stronger than you LITTLE BOY!

    • Jordan: Commedia dell'arte is Italian.
      Jack: Who cares? He didn't like it.
      Jordan: He didn't get it!
      Jack: No problem, then. Just give America a tutorial on 15th-century Restoration comedy before each show.
      Jordan: 17th century, and Restoration comedy is English.

    • Danny: What? They were asked if it was patriotic or unpatriotic?
      Ricky: Yeah.
      Danny: It's a television show, it's not the Iwo Jima memorial.

    • Jordan: He wanted me to go to clubs with him.
      Jack: What kind of clubs?
      Jordan: Golf, tennis, wine tasting...
      Jack: (interrupting) Hey! Jordan!
      Jordan: The kind where you watch other people having sex! (pause) I was twenty-five. I married a slug.
      Jack: So did my wife, but I don't make her go to Plato's Retreat.
      Jordan: You make her go to the People's Choice Awards. That's not bad enough?

    • Matt: Tell me the truth. How important is audience retention tonight?
      Danny: It's important, Matt, we can't lose more than ten percent. What do you think? The sponsors, the affiliates, the press, the right, our job, Jordan's job, everybody's job. It's important.
      Matt: All right, lie to me next time.

    • (Danny is sitting on Matt's chest after being knocked to the ground.)
      Matt: Are people looking at us right now?
      Danny: I think they are.
      Matt: Well, could you punch me in the face or something, because to a casual observer this appears a little homoerotic for my comfort.
      Danny: I definitely hear you on that. What should we do?
      Matt: Get off me!
      Danny: Alright, just play it cool.
      Matt: Yeah.

    • Matt: What?! I'm working!! (turns to see Jordan and Danny walking in) Oh, sorry. Hi.
      Jordan: I'll be out of your way in a minute.
      Matt: Sure, what do you need?
      Danny: She wants us to make fun of her.
      Matt: Okay, well, your teeth are pretty big.
      Jordan: No.
      Danny: She wants you know it's okay with her if you make fun of her arrest.
      Jordan: Thanks, I can speak for myself.
      Danny: Go ahead.
      Jordan: My teeth are fine.
      Matt: Okay.
      Jordan: I'm saying you shouldn't give me special treatment.
      Matt: No, because I wouldn't want anybody to think I was a pussy boy. (glares at Danny)
      Jordan: You're a pussy boy?
      Danny: Don't worry about it, I'll be around.

    • Danny: Cal!
      Cal: Yeah!
      Danny: What the hell?!
      Cal: Well, here's the story, Danny - last weekend's rainstorm loosened the soil and a 60 year old palm tree fell on a transformer line next to the studio.
      Danny: Are they fixing it?
      Cal: In a manner of speaking, yeah.
      Danny: What does that mean?
      Cal: They don't know how to fix it.
      Danny: How much about this do I want to know?
      Cal: As little as possible.
      Danny: Okay. (turns and walks away)

    • Danny: They want to see you take fewer whacks at Bush, and it looks like they're getting their wish. Throw it out.
      Matt: It's four years ago, all over again.
      Danny: What did you think it was going to be?
      Matt: Four years later. And by the way, I'd be happy to take shots at Democrats, too, if only one of them would say or do something!

    • Danny: Cal's guys are trying to figure out what's going on.
      Matt: That's good, because everything we do here plugs into a socket.

    • Harriet: God loves me, and hates the both of you.
      Simon: Prove it.
      (the lights come back on all at once, and Simon slowly sits down)
      Simon: Okay, seriously, I'm scared out of my mind.
      Tom: Yeah, that was strange.
      Harriet: Alright, moving on...

    • Ron: Matt...
      Matt: (talking about the power outage) Well, we need to find out why this is happening.
      Ricky: Yep.
      Matt: Electricity plays a pretty big part in what we do here.

  • NOTES (1)

    • Music in this episode:

      "Sem Contenção" by Bebel Gilberto
      "Alguém" by Ananda Project
      "Throw It All Away" by Zero 7
      "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" by Dave Mason


    • Iwo Jima Memorial mentioned by Danny Tripp is also known as The United States Marine Corps War Memorial. It depicts one of the most historic battles of World War II, the battle of Iwo Jima. The memorial is dedicated to all marines who have given their lives in the battle.

      It's a statue consisting of six men raising an American flag on Iwo Jima which is a Japanese island. The sculptor was inspired by a historic photograph taken on February 23, 1945 by Joe Rosenthal.

    • Tom: *reading* "As a result of the controversy, the school superintendent has cancelled their planned spring production of The Crucible."
      Simon: Why?
      Tom: It casts Christians in a bad light.
      Harriet: Yeah, Salem wasn't our finest hour.

      Arthur Miller's 1952 play The Crucible is about the witch-hunting hysteria in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692.

    • Merrily We Roll Along:
      Jack Rudolph comments that "thieves get rich and saints get shot," a line from the song "Now You Know" from Stephen Sondheim's musical, Merrily We Roll Along.

    • Holly Hunter in "Broadcast News"

      Harriet mentions using a Holly Hunter accent before the power goes out. After the power goes out she tells Matt ( as Holly Hunter), "It's hard for me to give you advice when you represent something I truly think is dangerous," which Jane Craig (Hunter) says to Tom Grunick (William Hurt) in the 1987 film Broadcast News. Then, a few minutes later she adds "I think you're the devil." Hunter uses this line later in the film when talking to Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks.)