Looking past all of the vacuous reality shows and mindless game show programming that exists, we are truly living in a golden age of television. Some of the greatest minds in the entertainment industry have found a home on the small screen and it has generated some of the most captivating, intense, funny and fascinating material that the medium has ever seen. And now there exists a new shoe to help celebrate that fact in the best way possible.
Airing on The Sundance Channel, The Writers' Room features Community star Jim Rash as the host of a panel show that him talking to the writing staffs behind some of the greatest drama and comedy series on television today. Right out of the gate the show highlights one of the greatest pieces of television in history: Breaking Bad. Featuring a line-up of guests that includes creator and showrunner Vince Gilligan, star and producer Bryan Cranston, and writers and producers Moira Walley-Beckett, Peter Gould, Sam Catlin, George Mastras, Gennifer Hutchinson, and Thomas Schnauz, the pilot digs into both the history of the show’s narrative and the way things work creatively behind the scenes.
While it certainly helps that the first episode centers on one of the most remarkable, amazing television shows of all time, The Writers' Room gets off to a great start with its pilot and generates an excellent conversation. Not only is it interesting to hear the group talk about how the story evolved over the course of the last few years and how they created certain plot developments, it’s also fun to get a taste of the politics and personalities of the people behind Breaking Bad, be it Schauz’s stubbornness or Hutchinson’s self-described “cheerleader” attitude when the staff hits a storytelling roadblock.
The quality of the conversation is somewhat undercut by the runtime, however. As a fan of Breaking Bad, it’s incredible that there is a show out there that has collected the key minds behind the series, but the half-hour timeslot feels too short simply because by the end of the episode you’re still left wanting more. And given the fact that future episodes will include writers and producers from shows like Game of Thrones and Parks & Recreation I get the sense that the wanting feeling at the end won’t go away as the series continues.
Rash is a terrific choice as host if not just because of his experience as both a comedian and as an Oscar-winning writer. In the first episode he asks interesting questions and has a very entertaining presence, but also ensures that the spotlight stays on his guests. Because of the show’s short runtime this is an incredibly valuable thing, as it allows as much information as possible to be packed into 22 minutes.
If the first episode is indicative of the series as a whole, The Writers' Room should fall on to the radar of any serious television watcher. Don’t believe me? Well, in advance of its premiere Sundance Chanel has put the entire first episode online and you can watch it for yourself on the official website or in the embed below!
Tune in to see the show on Sundance Channel at 10:00pm on Monday, July 29th.