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Sports Night? More Like Fright Night! - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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June 25th, 2006


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12:45 am - Sports Night? More Like Fright Night!
I am using my "new show squee" tag, but it's not entirely accurate. I was actually shown the first season in 2004 by a good friend of mine, but we never got around to watching the second season together. And perhaps that is a metaphor for our relationship, as so many things are, but that's neither here nor there. (Except for the fact that, yes, Anna, it is always a she.)

Before I go any further, I do need to say, for any prospective readers, that the reason I didn't check the show out when it aired was because A) my tastes in television weren't as refined back then and B) I didn't (and still don't) give a flying flip about sports. The same way people backed away from Buffy the Vampire Slayer because of the silly name, people backed away from Sports Night because they thought it was about sports. And of course it's not actually about sports. Just like Buffy is not actually about vampires. Okay, it really is about vampires, but that's not the point. The point is Sports Night is an awesome show, and you should all watch it.

I was hooked almost immediately, when I first watched. I had never seen such a show, one that wasn't really a half-hour sitcom nor an hourlong drama but a seamless meld of both, a half-hour drama with comedic elements. It was alternately hilarious and heavy, devastating and cute. I was impressed with how well they pulled it off at such a pace. Also, I had been crushing on Sabrina Lloyd since Sliders, so her presence was very welcome.

Two years passed, and I still had not seen the second season, and suddenly, the show began to dominate the discussion in the VM4. While the discussion was mostly centered around the eternal question of who's cooler, Dan or Casey, nostalgia for the show itself also popped up, and I decided it was high time I got around to finishing off Sports Night. Except the DVDs were more expensive than I'd bargained for.

And then waitaminute17 sent me her loaner set for keeps, because she is awesome like that.

So, in about a week, I watched both seasons of Sports Night, and I loved it all over again.

What is the show about, then? It's about extremely competent professionals who are absolutely passionate about what they do. They love what they do and they love that they do it. It's a quality I find admirable and one I wished I possessed. I long for that sort of passion, that intense knowing that you are doing what you are meant to be doing, that you have found your place in the world and your actions complete you. It's about politics and ethics and sex and a little bit of religion. It's about standing up for your principles and knowing when to compromise them. It's about the benefits and pitfalls of mixing personal and work relationships. It's about the strict dichotomy between your personal and professional self. It's about all the best and worst facets of humanity.

But I promise it's also really, really funny. What's funny is that pretty much every character either claims they're not funny or is accused of not being funny at some point, but they're all wrong. And yet they're all right. The kind of funny they are is the very natural sort of wisecracks you get in an environment of friends delivered in the rapid-fire patter Sorkin is known for, mixed within all sorts of technical talk that doesn't need to be completely understood but only needs to be recognized as dialogue the characters themselves understand down to their very bones.

The cast is entirely fantastic. I think a lot of the greatness and success of a show can be attributed to the cast; they can take writing gold and make it platinum.

I think providing a character rundown at this point would be a waste of time since if you don't want to check the show out by now, then...I don't like you. So instead I will use this paragraph to note that I always thought of myself as more of a Dan, with the insecurity and the being a doer of good things where women are concerned. I saw more of myself in him than in Casey, certainly. But then waitaminute17 said I was so cute it freaked her out; I was totally a Jeremy. And I can see that, though I'm not nearly as superintelligent. I think he's way nerdier than I am. But maybe I'm a Jeremy too.

Let me also give props to the style of the show, which frequently involves another Sorkin trademark, that of the camera following two characters as they walk and talk at the same time, a technique dubbed "pedeconferencing" by glumpishStrega. It really aids in giving that behind-the-scenes feel.

I loved rewatching the first season, seeing some of my favorite moments again and catching things I hadn't caught before. The first season is where all the classic episodes seem to be, but the second season is very good too. It seems to get very angsty and conflict-y very fast, reminiscent of Buffy S6, but then it settles down and gets into a groove of...more angst and conflict. A lot of the happy fun of the first season seems to be absent, unfortunately, but the conflict comes from a natural growth of the characters and isn't manufactured. The series as a whole still ends up being a solid 45 episodes of high-quality entertainment. I really didn't want it to end.

Now, rather than get into spoilery specifics about what I liked and didn't like, I turn to you instead. Tell me your favorite everythings in the comments, and let's play.

In conclusion, Gordon looks like a porn star.
Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Pedro the Lion - Bad Things to Such Good People

(64 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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[User Picture]
From:calendae
Date:June 25th, 2006 08:00 am (UTC)
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Dan is my favorite thing about the show. But I really like the friendship between Dan and Casey and that the female characters are in places of power withint the show. I have issues with the way Sorkin writes women (Dana's dating plan? The hell? Natalie being incredibly competent but also acting like she's in 7th grade sometimes) but at least they're there.

I love everything. Except for the aforementioned women issues.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 25th, 2006 02:58 pm (UTC)
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Yes.
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From:cerulgalactus
Date:June 25th, 2006 08:01 am (UTC)
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It had Ted McGinley AND Benson - what more needs to be said?
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From:dcjensen
Date:June 25th, 2006 03:13 pm (UTC)
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I liked that Ted McGinley wasn't playing a Ted McGinley trademark character.

And the fact they wrote Robert Guillaume's stroke into the show.

"Eli's coming...."
[User Picture]
From:horsefacehannah
Date:June 25th, 2006 08:24 am (UTC)
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Jeremy trying to get himself fired by pretending he's a racist. The porn star plotline (sue me!, BSK!). Dan/Rebecca. Dana explaining what being at the Lion King was like (sue me again!).
And mostly the Sorkin banter. There doesn't really need to be plots when there's such witty dialogue, right?
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 25th, 2006 03:03 pm (UTC)
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Jeremy trying to get himself fired by pretending he's a racist.
Heh. I think they paradoxically played up and ignored Isaac's race during the course of the show.

The porn star plotline (sue me!, BSK!).
She's pretty! And it was a fun little diversion, but in retrospect it seems a little...meh.

Dan/Rebecca.
Yeah, that was an interesting relationship.

Dana explaining what being at the Lion King was like (sue me again!).
"I didn't know we could do that" is one of my favorite moments.

There doesn't really need to be plots when there's such witty dialogue, right?
No.
[User Picture]
From:holly96
Date:June 25th, 2006 08:26 am (UTC)
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I just finally finished up the last disc last weekend! Although I did watch it when it was on.

Anyway, Dan is definitely my favorite character. I also love Isaac, and the way everyone sort of barges into his office and starts talking about their problems, and the way he sort of doesn't care most of the time, because their problems tend to be trivial, but you can tell he still really cares about them. I love the snappy dialogue, and they way lines tend to get repeated a lot in an episode or storyline ("Eli's Coming" comes to mind, as does the doxen line in that episode where there's no news). I loved the Seder that was in one of the last couple episodes, when Casey showed up and he and Dan made up, and then Isaac gave an awesome speech. I may have cried. And I loved Dan's on-air apology. That was powerful and very well-delivered. And unlike you, I do love sports. So I loved how well they tied in various sports happenings to the characters' lives. Like when Dana's brother tested positive for steroids. Or when Dan is really affected by that long jumper who held the World Record for all of a few minutes.

Okay, I could go on and on, but I'll just end by saying it is a travesty that show got cancelled. I really, really love it.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 25th, 2006 03:07 pm (UTC)
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I also love Isaac, and the way everyone sort of barges into his office and starts talking about their problems, and the way he sort of doesn't care most of the time, because their problems tend to be trivial, but you can tell he still really cares about them.
Hee. Yeah. I love how he's all "I'm going to pretend I never came in here, and you didn't ask me that question, and we'll all be happier."

I loved the Seder that was in one of the last couple episodes, when Casey showed up and he and Dan made up, and then Isaac gave an awesome speech. I may have cried.
Yes! Except for me, it was Dan's speech that brought the near-tears. That combined with Casey's showing up. I wanted them to make up so badly. I hated that they were fighting.

And I loved Dan's on-air apology. That was powerful and very well-delivered.
Absolutely.

So I loved how well they tied in various sports happenings to the characters' lives. Like when Dana's brother tested positive for steroids. Or when Dan is really affected by that long jumper who held the World Record for all of a few minutes.
Even though I don't care about sports, moments like that still affected me. I had an audible "Oh, shit" moment when Casey reacted to the fax of names.
[User Picture]
From:briasoleil
Date:June 25th, 2006 08:33 am (UTC)
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I had a Jeremy moment the other night. Sports Night is one of those shows that hit so many right notes, even when it wasn't at its best. The ensemble was truly brilliant. And they had so many great guest stars.

Clearly, Aaron Sorkin is not the bestest writer the world ever produced. But he did good with this show. Except for the bloody ridiculous Dana Dating Plan. Which isn't to say that I'm a full-on Dana/Casey shipper. Just that in and of itself, it was moronic.

That said, I have so many good memories of this show. And it's not just the big moments or scenes. There are so many little things. Dan and Isaac's relationship, nearly every Isaac scene - "and a moat!" - Natalie's enthusiasm, Jeremy's monologues of utter geekdom, Dana's flightiness and absolute confidence - what a compelling dichotomy - Casey speaking in tongues - and "killed him, killed him, killed him dead" - Kim and Elliott, the tech boys, Danny. "Dana, tell me a joke" will always have a special place in my heart.

Without a doubt, Danny was always the coolest. Except for Isaac. Who wins at being the coolest person ever.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:June 25th, 2006 03:13 pm (UTC)
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Except for the bloody ridiculous Dana Dating Plan.
It seems bloody ridiculous in execution, but I couldn't help but see Dana's logic in the concept. People still say that it's better to have dated many people before settling down. It's just Dana's forcing Casey to do it that's kind of...weird.

and "killed him, killed him, killed him dead"
Where was this one?

"Dana, tell me a joke" will always have a special place in my heart.
I think a lot of the Casey/Dana stuff in the first season was anvilicious, but sweetly anvilicious. Like the moment in the finale when Casey laughs and tells her he thinks she's funny.

I wonder how in the hell Dan managed to think Kim was his secretary all those years. That made him lose some points for me, especially so soon after Natalie deemed her very employable.
[User Picture]
From:pixie37373
Date:June 25th, 2006 01:37 pm (UTC)
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I loved this show when it was on, and I love it even more now. It's just one of those things that makes me happy. I'm glad that it makes you happy, too.
From:metabeta
Date:June 25th, 2006 02:18 pm (UTC)
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I hate the way the show ended since they thought they were going to come back and didn't come back and aaaaagh. But mmm Sorkin anything and I'm there. Next stop for you? The-Goddamn-West-Wing, please.

Also, I don't think you're a Jeremey, though you may appear to be one. I think you're more of a Casey, probably.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 25th, 2006 03:16 pm (UTC)
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Casey? Me? Explain.
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From:dcjensen
Date:June 25th, 2006 03:10 pm (UTC)
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Watching Sports Night makes we long for a workplace that has even a portion of the interpersonal loyalty shown on the show. It all stems from the first episode when Isaac basically states he had assembled the team by finding the people who he thinks are undervalued and giving them a chance. That is why they chose to start the series with the hiring of Jeremy, IMHO.

There were a lot fo favorite things about Sports Night, but Paula Marshall as a porn star was pretty spiffy. I'd buy those movies... :)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 25th, 2006 03:17 pm (UTC)
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Heh. Yeah, Gordon looks like a porn star, but Paula Marshall does not. But I would watch her...
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From:darlingviolenta
Date:June 25th, 2006 03:33 pm (UTC)
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It's about time for the annual re-watching of Sports Night in the Harris household . . .

I want Isaac to be my boss.

I liked William H. Macy's character.

But I think my favorite moment is when Casey tells his son he will never be disappointed in him. Because I'm a sap and it made me cry.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 25th, 2006 03:49 pm (UTC)
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I liked William H. Macy's character.
I could never figure him out. He was like this totally awesome jerk. I think he was on the side of Good, but still.

You sap.
[User Picture]
From:bspalek
Date:June 25th, 2006 03:50 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I have never even given a single thought to this show. If it has the word "sports" in it their is a good chance I am not going to have any interest in watching. I'll check it out though, it sounds good. =)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 25th, 2006 03:54 pm (UTC)
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Watch it! It's so good! Pretend the show is called Barbra Night!
[User Picture]
From:iheartbridges
Date:June 25th, 2006 04:53 pm (UTC)
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Okay, enough people are talking about this show that I feel I should be watching it. Should I be?
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 25th, 2006 05:03 pm (UTC)
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That is a very dumb question.

YES. I mean, hello, you even like sports, for God's sake.
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From:smrou
Date:June 25th, 2006 05:42 pm (UTC)
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Keeping in mind that of course I've never actually met you, I can sense a bit of Jeremy in you. Like, that bit where he was spending Easter with Natalie and spent all day trying to get himself to be able to drink egg nog? I could imagine you doing something like that (although you would do it for the appropriate occasion, making it a bit more logical). Jeremy has a sort of intensity that I think you probably possess, somewhat. But I can definitely see how you could be a Dan, too.

Both of those things are obviously very very good things. I just adore both Dan and Jeremy. I think when I first started watching the show, Jeremy was my favorite, but over time, Dan became my favorite. I think what makes me absolutely adore Dan is his extremely strong sense of loyalty. I think that more than anyone else, he is the one who sees this group of coworkers and friends as a family (maybe tied with Dana). And I love how he would never hesitate to let Casey know how much his friendship means to him and how much he loves him. He is cool, but he isn't the least bit macho, which is so wonderful. I think he is just the quintissential Good Guy. Which, now that I think about it, is an interesting thing to say, because all of the main guys on the show are Good Guys. Casey, Dan, Jeremy, Isaac. Every one of them a good'un.

Anyway, great show. Just great.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 25th, 2006 05:47 pm (UTC)
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Yay, I was waiting for you to come play!

I think what makes me absolutely adore Dan is his extremely strong sense of loyalty.
Yeah, I started writing a character rundown, and I described him as "fiercely loyal."

I think that more than anyone else, he is the one who sees this group of coworkers and friends as a family (maybe tied with Dana).
Aw, crap, I forgot to mention in my post that that was one of things I loved, the Jossian theme of the Family We Make for Ourselves. And I think your point is proven by his Seder speech, which made me tear up.

He is cool, but he isn't the least bit macho, which is so wonderful. I think he is just the quintissential Good Guy.
He does have his low moments, of course, but we all do.

Anyway, great show. Just great.
Would you consider it...smoky?
[User Picture]
From:tophatter2
Date:June 25th, 2006 07:37 pm (UTC)
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In conclusion, Gordon looks like a porn star.
The shirt did feel tight.

Sports Night is just such a classic series. It's one of the very few sitcoms (along with NewsRadio, Undeclared, and AD) where, if you like it, you're probably a person I'd like to know better.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 25th, 2006 08:24 pm (UTC)
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I still haven't seen Newsradio.
[User Picture]
From:waitaminute17
Date:June 25th, 2006 09:13 pm (UTC)
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I think you are mostly like Jeremy with a little bit of Dan and a little bit of Casey. You see, Dan says he's a doer of good things where women are concerned but I don't think that strictly true. I mean he did sleep with Bobbi and not call her, he was dating someone and then just dropped her (again without calling) when he met Rebecca, he did say that he'd never been prouder of Casey after he slinked out on Sally. I mean I'm not really trying to argue that Dan is a bad guy, he's a good guy and some of the time a doer of good things where women are concerned but I think that title applys more to Casey. I know I'm in the minority here because people think he was wrong not to tell Dana about Grodon and I agree with that but in that case I can see him not wanting to hurt her. And I can see him thinking that Dana would be smart enough to leave Gordon for other reason's (i.e. finally figuring out that she deserved someone who loved her for who she is and wouldn't try to change her).

Anyhow, you have Casey's skill with language and Jeremy's cuteness and Dan's...wow that Dan quality is hard to describe, I want to call it an "easy" way with women, but it doesn't seem easy at all for Dan, it's more that women seem to like you (both) a lot. Anyhow, I don't know you that well but I see more of Casey and Jeremy in you more than Dan.

It seems bloody ridiculous in execution, but I couldn't help but see Dana's logic in the concept. People still say that it's better to have dated many people before settling down. It's just Dana's forcing Casey to do it that's kind of...weird.
The logic is something that would have helped him before he married Lisa, but having been married once already, I think, negates the whole dating before you settle down rule.

I can't really pick a favorite part of Sports Night, I really like it all.

Dan: You speak Frech, Spanish and German.
Casey: I dabble in a little English

is high on my list.

I also like the bit when Dana came back from dinner without her panties, Casey's speech when she explained it to him was great.

I also really like the "it's a tense time, glue's not going to work" line and the following scene where Dan and Casey try to rattle Dana and Natalie.

I also really like Dan's speech to Casey in the pilot about how the people at Sports Night like him.

And, of coures, Dan's Speech to Dana about how she'd been hanging out in the men's room.

And I loved Jeremy's heat, cattle and malaria scene. And Jeremy's trust me speech to Natalie at the poker game. And the scene when Jeremy goes to reccomend Dan to Rebecca - I just really love his delivery on the "go out with him or don't go out with him, but for the record, nothing you just said describes Dan", in fact I like that whole episode a lot, in fact I like the whole series a lot.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 25th, 2006 09:25 pm (UTC)
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Hm. I never thought of myself as so Casey-ish, but hm indeed.

Dan: You speak Frech, Spanish and German.
Casey: I dabble in a little English

is high on my list.

Hee.

And, of coures, Dan's Speech to Dana about how she'd been hanging out in the men's room.
Hm. When was this one?

And I loved Jeremy's heat, cattle and malaria scene.
I don't seem to remember this one, and you have an icon of it.

And Jeremy's trust me speech to Natalie at the poker game.
I thought it was a classic SN moment but maybe a little over-the-top. Like, it bugs me when people do these huge, overtly private/personal things in public.

And the scene when Jeremy goes to reccomend Dan to Rebecca
"I've come to welcome you to the building!"

in fact I like the whole series a lot.
Really? I hadn't noticed.
[User Picture]
From:cucumbersarnies
Date:June 25th, 2006 09:45 pm (UTC)
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Ah, Sports Night. Erin made me love this show too. So much that i bought on region 1 DVD without having any means of actually watching it.

The Dan/ Casey question is one that can never be answered. it's an eternal dilemma. One of my favourite things about the show is the standard of the acting. Look in the background- you've got characters reacting, interacting with just a level of convicton that isn't normally there. It just makes that much more special. That compentent professionalism you've talked about seems to have been the experience of the cast too.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 25th, 2006 10:06 pm (UTC)
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Hee to your icon.

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