June 25th, 2006


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.