Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Season 1 Episode 3

The Focus Group

Aired Monday 10:00 PM Oct 02, 2006 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (18)

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out of 10
373 votes
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!)
  • Overall, the whole show is well-written.

    This is the third episode of Studio 60, and it's just getting better all the time. Or, at least not going downhill, which is really all anyone can ask, when they set the bar so high with their first episode.

    I like how they keep making references to SNL, since we all know that this is what the show really is. This week's reference was to Wayne's World, one of the most popular skits from SNL that turned into two movies.

    Otherwise, the show on a whole is just witty, fast-paced, and funny. There are on-going dramas, and things coming up from people's pasts that are haunting them, like Jordan's DUI arrest. I knew something was coming there, since she was warned that the Christian groups would go after her personally, and I suspect that this is only the beginning. I can't wait to see what happens next!
  • Excellent script with subtle humours.

    Finally an episode where we caught a glimpse of every single skit. In the past two episodes we only caught one skit each (the George Bush skit in episode 1 and the choir skit in episode 2). This week, we got to see not only the game show but also an array of skits including \'pimp my trike?\', \'the Nicolas Cage show\', the news show, etc. It was nice to see the producers making the effort to set up the props for just a few seconds of shots.

    In terms of character development, nothing much happened in this episode though. The only landmark development perhaps was the Jordan DUI incident. There were a number of hilarious lines though. Matt telling Jordan she had big teeth when asked to make fun of her was one. Having more of this Matthew Perry\'s comedic routine would make the show even better.
  • It just keeps getting better.

    The third episode of Studio 60 continues the tone set by the first two; it's a well-written show, with quick, witty dialogue, and really good actors.

    The Focus Group has the cast looking at the results of a focus group and worrying... the new guys don't want the cast to see the results, but, of course, they get leaked. And chaos ensues. But the show goes on, and the tension only allows for more great dialogue with all the cast participating.

    Also, more past sins are surfacing, which only makes the show more interesting. I can't wait to see what surfaces from the past in up-coming episodes.
  • Slowly but steadily improving in writing and tone.

    One complaint I had last week was that the actual "comedy" of the skit show was lacking in true humor and relied on old style stuff like Gilbert and Sullivan. However, this shows a much better turn for the show-within-the-show parts.

    Doing it as a montage was good (although the constant applause was a bit much) but it showcased well the skits, some of which I can easily see fitting on SNL. I'm surprised they haven't already done the "golf fan acting like a football fan" skit and Simon's Rosanne Barr joke was perfect. I took a bit of exception at that "Commedia dell'arte" skit as being too classy but then they actually point out how it goes over the heads of people and that's the point. I also like how Jeannine is coming along as freaked over getting dumped but they stick by her.

    The joke on the small town and Harriet calling on it was intriguing, pointing out how well she connects with castmates. And her Holly Hunter accent was so dead-on it was scary. (Note to Sorkin: Get Holly Hunter for an ep, this would rule).

    The bits of Jordan were quite good, showing her fear that she keeps hidden. I'm dying to see her husband come in and what drama that can bring. I also hope we see more of the conflict between Ricky and Ron and Matt and Danny, especially with Matt trying to work with them more. So it looks an improvement on the show so far, finally clicking on all levels, which promises lots of fun to come.
  • Disappointing

    This episode reminded me too much of the previous show. The pressure to put together the show, the worry about the ratings and the concern over the reaction of the Christian right. While the show attempts to deal with serious issues while still maintaining comedic flavor, it reduces the issues to brief sound bites which proved unsatisfying. There were so many overlapping plots that none of them could be developed sufficiently. I was really interested in seeing their show and seeing the brief montage bits of the show left me unsatisfied. I was happy that the show was successful, but I saw so little of the show that I didn't understand why it had been so well received. While I am still enjoying the show, the next episode will be important. If it seems like the same thing over again (similiar this episode and the last episode), I will begin to lose interest in the show.
  • The crew use a focus group to measure the ratings while Jordan's history comes back to bite her.

    Jesus this show is incredibly boring. For such a heavy array of stars this show manages to be amazingly bland, boring, uninspirational, unoriginal and tedious. It's like the class that you can't wait to be to over because it's such a pain to sit through.

    The other reviewer hit on the nail Studio 60 has numerous flaws most notably the fact that it's too ambitious. A show about what goes on behind the scenes in a tv network. Interesting concept but here's the problem...nobody cares!!!
    LMAO. The thing as tv viewers by now in this day and age, we know what goes on behind the scenes, we know about the backstabbings, we know that tv execs only care about making money and covering their own rear end. We know despite their high profiled Mr. Perfect Ceo look these people carry so much baggage it's not even funny so why do a show on it?

    More specifically on this show, the characters lack passion, and they are just not likable or easy to know with the exception of Amanda Peet's character which continues to be one of a few brights spots. Honestly I would have turned off the tv if it wasn't for her. Anyways, they focused on focus groups. Jordan's history came up.

    The change in lines over one program just wasn't funny. Do they make fun of people in a small town no one cares about or as they did do they come up with a stupid bear joke? I personally would have gone with the first. The girl did make a good point they should focus more time on offending politicisns and people in the higher social class. The other thing as well that the other reviewer mentioned which I agree with is that they hardly show any of the live show in progress so we don't actually see the full creative
    product in action because we have this full hour of bickering and political power struggles in the office. It's frustrating and boring. Near the end the episode did get better. Jordan's opening up about her ex and the fact he took to her sex clubs without her approval and all this other crap is the moment where I was actually interested. I would have loved to see her react with some violence and more raw emotion, but they only gave us a teaser. Geez.
    Anyhow, not much more to say except I was disappointed (again) in this show. They need less talk and more action.
  • I can’t wait for Mondays!! Finally; a show that is not set in a hospital or at a murder scene. It is new, refreshing and witty. I highly recommend this show and am looking forward to see how the show continues. My wife and I are both hooked.

    I find the show very intriguing; especially the characters. They have their own little quarks and it is interesting to watch how each one interacts with each other based on their history. The little conflict between Matt and Harriet is developing nicely. I am currious to see if they will realize they love each other or they will continue to grow apart. I find all the different little problems with each other can be a challenge to keep straight which keeps me interested in the show to find out what is going on.
  • Hasn't jumped the shark but we're already waterskiing.

    I know reviewing a show full of cliches with another cliche is a cliche, but hey, that's all that appears to be left in this puppy. What was thrilling and exhilirating in the pilot is gone, supplanted by yet more trite debate (I am beginning to dislike every scene with Sarah Paulson) and needlessly political humor. Crazy Christians (the "legendary" sketch we've still never seen) is followed up by Science Schmience, a sketch as dopey as its target.

    I know this show is supposed to be behind the scenes, but part of the ambitious appeal is the idea that the sketches really will be funny, or at least the creative staff writing this show will know the difference. Currently, they do not.

    It occurred to me watching this episode that perhaps this show is doomed to fail because of its own ambition.

    Amanda Peet remains the class of the cast and the best written character, followed by Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry. The rest of the cast is beginning to flounder, mired by a deadly mix of humorless "banter" and/or iredeemable elitism. The cast is often heard behind the scenes debating the culture of America as though it was theirs to grant.

    One moment of sheer self-aware humor that worked is when Whitford and Perry ask an assistant if they can have an important discussion walking. I debated with my roommates whether Sorkin's assistant put that in as dialogue while he dictated when it was meant to be a question Sorkin was asking.

    Anyway, the show needs to stop being such a predictable network dramedy - if it can successfully halt the annoying mix of continually addressing lingering conflict and short-term objectives (the power goes out, the ratings dip) and focus more on the real world of television production, it'll stay interesting. Needlessly throwing new plot twists at random feels like just that.
  • I still love this show

    I love this show and can't wait for mondays to come around. Matthew Perry totally rocks in this role. Hope all future episodes are as well written as these first three episodes. Can't wait to see how they deal with Amanda Peet's pregnancy. Are they going to write it in to the show or not?
  • THE FOCUS GROUP- Patience is a virtue.

    The 3rd episode of a series is important. It is were things begin to slow down. The Pilot is to intro duce you and the 2nd episode in to reel you in. Starting with the 3rd episode, the show starts to slow down and settle in. And this is exactly what "THE FOCUS GROUP" did. And it was still wonderful. I hear alot of people saying that they want to see the actual sketches and that the sketches aren't funny and they wouldnt watch it if Studio 60 was a real show. Thats the point. Sketch comedy is hard. And they are poking fun of SNL (even though it is on NBC). I mean come on they are NBS on the show. SNL has gotten worse and worse and worse over the years. And I personally think Sorkin is making fun of it right under NBC's nose. And that is the brilliance of Sorkin.
  • The best so far.

    This was the best episode so far. It really established what the series is going to be. It was fun to see more about the development process of the late night show, and also Matt and Danny's relationship. I enjoy the fact that they can have all these wonderful, tender little moments, but only when no one's looking. Hopefully the show is hitting its stride and will continue at or above this level.
  • When reached for comment the bear said "roar" rotfwl

    this show kicks ass in its third episode much like it did in the first two. Harriot Hayes or who ever plays her in the show doies an awsome holly hunter impersonation. i loved the guy doing tom cruise/ben stiller was really funny.

    aaron sorkin writes screwed up people great. Josh was screwed up in the west wing,

    danny was screwed up in sports night

    and now matty is obviously messed up in this show. and i love him for it cause i am messed up in the same way.
  • This episode reveals a serious flaw in Studio 60: it makes us want to watch the comedy program they are creating, but there is not enough time to show it to us.

    Studio 60 is a very ambitious show, but that is quickly becoming a problem. They are trying to do more than is feasible, resulting in a show crammed with plotlines, bulging at the seams with dialogue, overflowing with characters and their relationships. There was just too much going on in this episode to praise it. Too much and not enough.

    There is the focus group and the problems it creates, the ongoing concerns over offending Christians and other supposed prudes, the potential scandal over Jordan's 8 year old DWI and ex husbands book, and oh yeah, doing a live TV show every week.

    The huge flaw I see is that the writers, performers, producers and executives all talk, argue and fret endlessly about the live show, which makes us very interested in seeing this live show that they are creating every week. But of course they can't show us more than a few minutes of the show in each episode. The montage of the live show included in this episode was incredibly frustrating! And, as in the first two episodes, they all talk and talk about the "Crazy Christians" sketch that we will never get to see. How are we supposed to care about a controversial sketch that we haven't seen?

    Another "do I care?" issue came up at the end, when the cast and producers all celebrate the fact that their ratings went up. I am just not emotionally invested enough in these characters to share in their euphoria.

    Being ambitious is not enough. Studio 60 is not funny enough to be a successful comedy, and not dramatic enough to be a successful drama.