ETA: Despite its flaws (and there are flaws), I loved it!!!
The writing was crackerjack (no surprise), the direction was mostly strong, most of the cast was excellent with one (unfortunately high profile) disappointment. I wanted to like Amanda Peet (Jordan), I wanted her to do a good job, and maybe she'll grow into it, but as of the Pilot, she stands out and not in a good way. There's an amateurish quality that I can't quite put my finger on. Also when I watched the pre-air of this, I wasn't impressed with Sarah Paulsen which had surprised me because I've seen Sarah Paulsen (Harriet) in a few other things and always been very impressed so I was expecting to be impressed here. I wasn't the first time I watched it. But this time, I not only had no problem with her, I really enjoyed her performance. I dunno why the change, but there it is.
The rest of the cast that we got to see was excellent. I'm not sure if we won't see Judd Hirsch (Wes) again, but even if we don't that monologue was outstanding. In his brief screentime, he was magnificently on. And I'm not really a Hirsch fan. As a longtime Wings fan (and, of course, I watched Reefer Madness), I had higher expectations than most did (from what I've read) about Steven Weber (Jack) and he did not disappoint at all. I thought he nailed Jack. Excellent. In the brief bit we saw of D.L. Hughley, he was very good and Timothy Busfield was wonderful also (best in his 'fight the S&P' scene, worst in the final scene ... where he edged a tad bit into treacly). Also, I'm not sure of her name, but Jordan's redheaded assistant payed the "Shitshit" girl in Red Eye (Rachel McAdams' character's replacement while McAdams was on vacation) and I LOVED her in that small role in RE, so I'm hopeful to see more of her, because she's all kinds of awesome.
Then of course we have our two stars, Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford. I knew Whitford from Billy Madison prior to April of this year when I watched all seven seasons of The West Wing -- like most, I fell for him and his fabulous talent and charisma. He was just as fabulous here as he was on TWW, the only negative I had when I first watched this was that I felt like I was watching Josh without the slight mania, but I suppose that's understandable and should change over the course of the show. Again, like with Paulsen, I had a different POV. I'm actually in the middle of another TWW marathon (I just bought the first six seasons) and it is so not Josh he's playing now, so that's cool.
And saving the best for last, ahhh, Matthew Perry. I just love him. I think he's wonderful. He can handle drama beautifully, nuance, subtext, all of it he plays deliciously and I adore him as that kind of actor. Then there is the comedy. I smiled quite a bit during this, but I only laughed out loud, literally guffawed, three times while watching it and all three times were after Matt lines/actions. Comic timing to the degree that Perry can pull off is rare and he showed that skill here. He is just too awesome for words. So much love.
A few other details -- The opening scene, the conversation between Wes and the S&P guy, the monologue, the control room, ending with going to VTR was just AWESOME! The only downside of it was that the rest of the show simply did not (I don't know if it could have) sustain that brilliance. I also loved how Felicity Huffman (the star of Sorkin's Sports Night, check it out if you haven't pronto! played her few scenes, especially the quick reaction shot of her during Wes's monologue.
Overall, excellent job. My one big wish would be that somehow Allison Janney is able to be brought on board. What I wouldn't have given were it her cast as Jordan (just make the character a little older, who cares if Jordan is supposed to "be" Jaime Tarses). Ah well. Either Peet will step it up or Sorkin will write her out ala Mandy in S1 of TWW and maybe, just maybe, if the TV gods are smiling upon me, Janney will show up at least for a guest appearance.