There are few television shows that hold my interest past the pilot episode. When they do, they usually get cancelled because most networks can’t seem to identify quality programs without the help of their woefully misguided Neilsen system. In rare instances, such as the Family Guy and Futurama resurrections, a fantastic show gets canceled, then does so well on DVD, the network is forced to place it’s tail squarely between its legs and bring the show back to life. Sports Night was not one of these shows.
The year is 1998. ABC has Home Improvement, NYPD Blue, Ellen, Dharma and Drew. On Tuesday September 22, they premiere a little show-within-a-show called Sports Night. The ensemble cast includes a few heavyweights, and several actors who earned their street cred long after Sports Night was running on Comedy Central at 3am.
The show centers around the cast and crew of a sports broadcasting program on a cable sports network. The anchors, Casey McCall (Peter Krause, Six Feet Under) and Dan Rydell (Josh Charles, S.W.A.T.) are lovable, damaged sports fans, who, with humility and humor, suffer the outrageous fortune of being immersed in all things sports on a daily basis.
Executive Producer Dana Whittaker (Felicity Huffman, Desperate Housewives) is the feisty, woman-in-a-man’s-world leader with a heart of gold that keeps the show on track, and with the help of Jeremy Goodwin (Joshua Malina, The West Wing) and Natalie Hurley (Sabrina Lloyd, Num3ers) keep the big boss Isaac Jaffe (Robert Guillaume, Benson) happy and the antagonistic network executives at bay.
I realize that I’ve gotten knee deep into this review and I haven’t once mentioned comic genius Aaron Sorkin. For the uninitiated, Sorkin is responsible for three of the greatest, albeit unappreciated, shows on television. While The West Wing lasted 7 seasons, both Sports Night and Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, another show-within-a-show, lasted a paltry two.
Sports Night gave us a first glance at Sorkin’s now famous walk-and-talk scenes and his penchant for rapid-fire banter and subtle, clever humor. This combined with the amazing cast is why Sports Night will forever be one of my favorite television shows.
Last September, in celebration of Sports Night’s 10th Anniversary, Shout! Factory released an 8 DVD box set of this amazing show’s two seasons. Included are all 45 original episodes plus 2 discs full of bonus features. We’re talking interviews, gag reels, the works!
Stop reading and go to Amazon and order Sports Night right now!
I have watched the entire Emmy award winning series at least 10 times, and each time I find something new, a subtle joke, a great expression, poignant music. This is truly an underrated show and if you enjoy clever, intelligent comedy, this is a must see.