Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Sports Night

Thank the powers-that-be for the DVD format's insatiable hunger for more material to present to eager consumers. TV shows that would have slipped into fond memory (or, if they're lucky, relegated to the vagaries of TVLand or some other nostalgia-hawking cable network) now get a new life in nifty DVD sets aimed at the hearts...and wallets...of those fans who enjoyed them.

Not to mention new shows which are making the leap to the format in record time (I stopped trying to keep up with the broadcasts of 24, for example, I just wait for the collection and enjoy it at my leisure; I quickly got off-track with Lost but didn't sweat it because I figure they will collect it sooner before later.)

This set...6 discs which include both seasons plus the pilot episode...is an excellent case in point when it comes to giving under-appreciated shows one more chance to delight old fans and, hopefully, maybe even gather new ones. Before he created The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin gave us Sports Night, a delightful series that never found the audience it deserved. The show's success was hampered by bad time slots, poor promotion, perhaps by its title (some people may have thought it actually was a sports show like ESPN's Sports Center), and perhaps by the fact that it didn't neatly fit into a category.

It was a fast-paced, smart, engagingly bittersweet (more sweet than bitter but still tart enough to never be cloying), and extremely well-written show about the behind-the-scenes interactions of people working on a network sports newscast...but sometimes it was a sparkling comedy and other times it was a moving drama (most often it was both almost at the same time) and there was even a touch of the soap opera to it (especially in regards to the series-long flirtation between the producer and one of her lead anchormen) and so it was hard to sum up in a few words (and evidenced by this paragraph :-)

The cast was uniformly excellent. It featured Peter Krause (who went on to star in HBO's marvelous Six Feet Under) and Josh Charles as the anchormen Casey and Dan with Felicity Huffman, currently of Desperate Housewives, as their producer Dana. (Casey and Dana's sometimes-coy, sometimes-earnest on-again, off-again relationship providing a lot of the aforementioned soap opera elements.)

Robert Guillaume (whose real-life stroke was deftly woven into the narrative of the show) as executive producer Isaac along with Sabrina Lloyd (late of the cult SF favorite Sliders) and Josh Malina (who followed Sorkin to The West Wing), as production assistants, rounded out the core cast. They were all joined by a fine array of supporting and guest actors (including Huffman's husband, the incomparable William H. Macy, who appeared in a number of episodes as a troubleshooter sent in to help right the show following the stroke of Guillaume's character.)

It was a lovely little TV show and I'm glad I have it to enjoy again and again thanks to the "magic" of DVD. (But hey, I'm still waiting for them to sort out the roadblocks and get around to collecting Hill Street Blues...)


Der Tommissar said...

As we all know, it's all about the first season of "Hogan's Heroes" being released on DVD.

Or as my wife said, "I'm not even going to try and reason with you on this one. Have fun."

Russell said...

I enjoyed this show. I thought I was the only one watching at times.

theMike said...

One of my all time favorite shows. I couldn't believe it when it got cancelled. Thanks for letting me know this is out.

1 Blog Given said...

I found this show in reruns and absolutely loved it. As a sports and comedy fan I thought it was great.

panthergirl said...

My daughter loved Sports Night and recently gave me the DVDs to watch. Just started, but love it already.

Personally, I'm waiting for "thirtysomething".

Micah said...

This was a great show. It died way too soon (but at least the horrible laugh track was nixed after a while).