Like most people who enjoy thinly-veiled things, I was excited when I first heard about the plot of Aaron Sorkin's behind the scenes at a thinly-veiled Saturday Night Live show, Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip. I thought it was pretty daring of NBC to greenlight a series that is basically a televised criticism of one of the network's own shows. (In case you've missed the non-stop coverage, the basic premise of Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip is that two hot-shot writers––Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry––are brought in to revive the groundbreaking "Studio 60," a once relevant and funny, but now neutered, late-night sketch comedy show. Drama, and better comedy, ensue.)

But then I saw the show. And it seems like NBC is doing everything in its power to make sure that viewers don't mistake NBS's "Studio 60" for NBC's


Saturday Night Live. How? By having Aaron Sorkin write in references to the real-life NBC and the real-life SNL at every possible opportunity––something that, besides being really annoying, detracts from the reality of the show (so do Amanda Peet's attempts at acting, but I digress). Why? Simply put: if "Studio 60" exists in the same world as SNL, then "Studio 60" was never a groundbreaking live sketch comedy show. It was a rip-off of SNL. So, it's Mad TV, and a show about what goes on behind the scenes at a fictional Mad TV is not that exciting. So, from now on, I'm going to keep a running tally of how many mentions either NBC or Saturday Night Live gets in Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, not just because keeping track of grievances is fun (it really is), but because I have a feeling that over time the mentions will either peter out, or reach a level so ridiculously high that it becomes comical. I'm banking on the latter. Last night's episode (which, aside from all this, was good) had three: 1. When choosing an office Matthew Perry says, "I'd rather sit in Lorne Michael's office." Whitford replies, "Well, it's in New York, and he's still using it." Probability that NBC advised Sorkin to add at least the last sentence: 90% 2. Nate Corddry reads aloud from an assessment of "Studio 60" from the blog of a TV critic, "Studio 60 seldom rose to the level of Saturday Night Live at its best." Probability that NBC advised Sorkin to add this: 50% 3. Perry thinks aloud, "What do we have that says 'legacy of television' like Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Orchestra?" Probability that that reference would have made it to air if Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip was on a network besides NBC: 1%