TV is the answer

Beth Carpenter

Because winter provides such a lull for TV watchers, I felt it would be appropriate to devote some time to TV that you may have missed. These will be shows that may have ended in the last few years, or even 10 years ago. They are all on DVD, so if you are at a loss as to how to spend evenings avoiding homework, this column may provide you with options.
Aaron Sorkin is a genius when it comes to witty, fast-paced dialogue, as well as interesting storylines. “Sports Night,” Sorkin’s entrance into the world of television, is no exception. It ran for two seasons, from September 1998 to May 2000, before it was cancelled because of low viewership – and, probably, because Sorkin had started work on “The West Wing.”
Over winter break, I happened upon the complete series on DVD, a rare find in Barnes and Noble, as it’s not a very well known show. I figured it was kismet, so I bought it as an early Christmas present for myself and worked my way through the show’s two seasons by the end of the break. I found myself rewinding to catch jokes I missed on a first viewing, or calling my parents over because I found a particular snippet so amusing that I wanted to have someone else laugh at it too.
“Sports Night” was the first major television show for a few actors that have now become staples in the TV world: Felicity Huffman, Peter Krause and Joshua Malina, to name three.
The plot of the show revolves around a fictional sports show called, incidentally, “Sports Night.” Felicity Huffman plays Dana Whitaker, the focused, driven producer of the show. Her character has an on-again, off-again relationship with Casey McCall, played by Peter Krause.
Casey and Dan Rydell, played by Josh Charles, are the anchors of “Sports Night” and offer witticisms such as “if you haven’t seen Davis Love play Pebble Beach, then you haven’t seen Shakespeare the way it was meant to be played” or “we’ll bring you the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and because we’ve got soccer highlights, the sheer pointlessness of a zero-zero tie.”
The humor is dry and you have to pay attention because it’s often delivered with a straight face.
The first season is far more lighthearted than the second, a trend with Sorkin’s TV shows, but the second season still maintains its humor. The first season is also accompanied by a laugh track, something Sorkin fought against, and something that does make the viewing of earlier episodes a little rough, but once that part of the show is eliminated, the show is a real joy to watch.
I recommend getting it while it’s still easily available, as DVD marketers are capitalizing on the fact that they could make a 10th anniversary edition. To close, I will use the words of Casey McCall to further imprint the humor of the show on all readers: “If you’ve had half as much fun watching the show as we’ve had doing it, well then we’ve had twice as much fun doing the show as you’ve had watching it. That’s ‘Sports Night.’