SORKIN'S OTHER SHOWComplications Ensue
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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Will someone explain to me the magic of Sports Night. 'Cause I know there are fans out there. I watched the pilot, and the awkward laugh track really threw me. Tonight I'm watching the Season Two opener. And I sense there's a brain there. But instead of Sorkin applied to politics, which seems terribly urgent and important, this is Sorkin applied to sports news. Which seems like a big so what. Not to mention, in a half hour, the dialog seems less snappy and the camera much stiffer, the shots less interesting. Of course, I'm making a snap decision based on not particularly wanting to finish this episode, but I'm testy that way.

So, sports fans: why is this show great?

And: what shows from the past are worth going back to?



I always got the feeling this was Sorkin dipping his toe into series television water.

Entirely studio bound show.
Great dialogue and characters.
Not so much a show about sports, but about Network TV.
Very low budget.

I am not a tv sports fan; I don't follow sports regularly; but I followed this show religiously because it was about these particularly screwed up characters who happen to work in TV. It could have been a regular news show, a newspaper, a magazine for that matter. Around the office we used to joke about using their format to come up with a show about a B-Movie company (which to this day, I am still amazed I have witnessed some of the stuff we came up with).

So no, SPORTS NIGHT is not a sports show.

By Blogger Bill Cunningham, at 8:03 PM  

What show is worth going back to? "The Prisoner" is always worth going back to. It says all it has to say in 17 masterfully-written and -acted episodes. Patrick McGoohan is at his supreme confident and utter paranoid best in the series. There's been nothing like it on the tube before, during or since its run in the late '60s. Makes a current cult hit like "Lost" seem like little more than a kindergarten effort. You want to learn how to really write great TV? Watch "The Prisoner." It's on DVD.

By Blogger Uniquester, at 10:47 PM  


By Blogger CharlieDontSurf, at 12:30 AM  

Well, there was this little show called Firefly, I don't know if you've ever heard of it.

Seriously, though: it's been quite a while since I caught Sports Night, so my memory of the show is somewhat foggy. But I seem to recall really LOVING the actors, and the characters they created with the dialogue.

By Blogger MikeyMo, at 10:18 AM  

I'm no sports fan, but I was a big Sports Night fan. It was all about the characters and their relationships - if the characters don't grab you, it's probably just not going to appeal to you. The witty dialogue was a bonus, and the structure of some of the episodes, where you thought you knew what was going on, but a revelation made it something else entirely ("The Apology" is one that comes to mind). The laugh track disappears, too - it was a network imposed thing.

By Blogger Diane Kristine, at 7:39 PM  

"Sports Night" is still a show about politics, the politics of getting the show on the air, dealing with the weasel liason, dealing with the company that owns the network, and so on.

It grew up into "West Wing".

And yes, dear golly yes, the laugh track was embarassingly, obviously, a horrid idea.

By Blogger Chopped Nuts, at 9:29 PM  

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