Newsroom returns tonight on HBO. I watch the show, and while its often well acted & written, it does have a bothersome range, careening from annoyingly preachy to genuinely interesting plot lines. Sports night

While Aaron Sorkin’s writing is sharp, and his characters are mostly very good, I don’t want to discuss Newsroom.

Rather than discuss that show, I want to point you to a much earlier work of his: Sports Night. It was on in 1998, barely lasting 2 seasons. The tagline explains it pretty well: “It’s a Show About a Show About Sports, That Isn’t About Sports At All.

I really enjoyed the show when it first aired. It has been described as “the funniest show you never watched.”

FX has been rerunning it in order — and I have been binge watching it. There were 45 episodes (plus the pilot) which are rapidly filling my TiVo.

Sports Night showcased what became know as Sorkin’s schtick — the rapid fire dialogue, complex characters, interoffice romances, and intricate plot lines. It is probably best known as the show that tee’d up Sorkin to get West Wing greenlit.

Sports Night is my favorite Sorkin show, and in many ways his best. But it was much more than that. In West Wing, the politics drove the plot line. There was a tendency to get too distracted by partisan debate. Because the focus of the show is a Sports Show, Sorkin’s tendency to get preachy instead make for small interesting digressions. Issues such as decriminalization of marijuana, sexual assault in sports, issues with hunting become fodder for the secondary plot lines. The politics seem to work better when the show focuses elsewhere.

I suggest you set your DVRs to FX and watch it in order. (Alternatively, you can order the DVDs from Amazon or you can rent it from Netflix. You wont regret it).

It’s about sports. The same way Charlie’s Angels was about law enforcement.

 

Resources:

Sports Night – The Complete Series Boxed Set (1998)

IMDB

Wikipedia

Newsroom on HBO

Category: Humor, Television

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5 Responses to “Tivo Fodder: Sports Night”

  1. Frilton Miedman says:

    I watched Sports Night from start to finish, immediately started watching The West Wing, but towards 2005 my business got far too busy and I didn’t have the time.

    I started watching West Wing again, only to catch the last few episodes, I was pissed. This time, I DVR every episode of Newsroom.

    I don’t agree that politics diminishes Sorkins plot here.

    I think it adds a level of complexity that most Americans identify with, specifically with his Mcavoy character being a Republican that is disgusted with the Austrian element of the Tea Party movement….I cannot begin to express how much I relate, having been accused of being a Liberal, Socialist or Rino for explaining that self proclaimed “Libertarians” are not representing Friedmans actual Libertarian (anti-monopoly) ideology.

    I always saw Jeff Daniels as overlooked, Newsroom has given him a chance to exhibit his potential.

  2. Frilton Miedman says:

    I watched Sports Night from start to finish, immediately started watching The West Wing, but towards 2005 my business got far too busy and I didn’t have the time.

    I turned around and started watching West Wing again, only to catch the last few episodes, I was pissed.

    This time, I DVR every episode of Newsroom, I don’t agree that politics diminishes Sorkins plot here, I think it adds a level of complexity, specifically with his Mcavoy character being a Republican that is disgusted with the Austrian element of the Tea Party movement.

  3. BonesTX says:

    FYI, Sports Night is also available with Amazon Prime for free streaming. I caught as the show as much as I could when it was on.

    Now I’m getting to introduce my wife to it, and she likes it. If only there was a comedy that was this smart and “clean” on now

  4. jacobsk says:

    If you have Amazon Prime, it’s available for no charge.

  5. rpseawright says:

    Sports Night is simply fantastic television. I own the series. It was great at the time and has held up exceptionally well too. Barry’s right. Watch it and you won’t be disappointed.