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Sports Night: The Complete Series


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Product Description

Product Description

Taut, exciting, realistic dramedy about the lives of sports journalists. It's a show about a show about sports, that isn't about sports at all.

Amazon.ca

Before there was Aaron Sorkin's West Wing, there was Aaron Sorkin's Sports Night, which followed the trials and tribulations of a smart, energetic television staff as they scrambled to put on a nightly cable sports show, not unlike ESPN's SportsCenter. Sports Night was every bit as good as its political successor--and in some ways, even better--even though it didn't have the gravitas of, say, running the country on a daily basis. You don't need to know anything about sports to appreciate the dynamics of the Sports Night news room (which bears more than a passing similarity to His Girl Friday), and the issues the cast grappled with every week ran from the serious to the frothy, always peppered with snappy Sorkin dialogue. And sadly, as befalls most quality television (TV Guide dubbed it "The Best Show You're Not Watching"), Sports Night was canceled after two seasons. But the trajectory of 45 episodes on this DVD set allows you to watch one of the best and most groundbreaking half-hour shows ever put on television.

Those familiar with Sorkin's writing style will revel in the unabashed comedy and interoffice romance on display here, and the way it's set in motion by a powerhouse cast, including Felicity Huffman's Dana (sexy, neurotic show producer), Peter Krause's Casey (goofball anchor guy), Joshua Malina's know-it-all Jeremy (staff nerd and information repository), Sabrina Lloyd's efficient Natalie (Dana's mostly unflappable assistant), and the show's two secret weapons: Robert Guillaume as executive producer Isaac, who was to Sports Night what Martin Sheen was to The West Wing, and the superb Josh Charles, who as co-anchor Dan, a man as complex as he was funny and heartbreaking, was the heart and soul of Sports Night. Damn, they just don't make TV this good anymore! --Mark Englehart

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Amazon.com: 269 reviews
147 of 160 people found the following review helpful
Maybe the funniest show you never watched May 2 2004
By Henry Perkins - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
[I rate it 4.5 stars.]
"Sports Night" is about an eponymous fictitious hour sports news show on the fictitious Continental Sports Channel. It's a sit-com targeted at an audience who knows what "eponymous" means without consulting a dictionary. But this comedy isn't really about sports at all. It's about intelligent, articulate people who use humor to relieve the pressures that their demanding jobs entail.
Aaron Sorkin is the creator of "Sports Night". He also created "The West Wing" a year later, and when he realized that it was a lot easier selling viewers a fictitious White House administration than a fictitious sports news crew, he dropped "Sports Night" like a hot potato. Most everyone knows that "The West Wing" isn't really about Washington politics; instead it's about intelligent, articulate people who use humor to relieve the pressures that their demanding jobs entail. But few people have even heard of "Sports Night". It's a shame, though, because "Sports Night" may be the funniest show you never watched.
There are plenty of valid criticisms of "Sports Night". For supposedly intelligent people the characters adopt a large number of unreasonable prejudices. These are all politically correct prejudices, of course. In the world of "Sports Night" when a homeless man flicks open a switchblade he's only cutting a sandwich to share. Aaron Sorkin certainly has trouble writing multiple character voices. Without seeing which characters recite which lines you'd be hard pressed to match characters with dialog from a script; the phrasing and delivery are largely interchangeable. And fully half of the humor of "Sports Night" comes from a predictable formula of repetition. Here's my pastiche of a "Sports Night" dialog:
A: "We need to talk."
B: "Is it about X? Because I'm tired of talking about X. We can talk about anything you want, as long as it's not about X."
A: "OK, then."
B: "It's not about X?"
A: "It's not about X."
B: "OK, then."
A: "It's about X."
B: "I've got to tell you, if I could make your head explode using only the power of my mind, they'd never get the stain out of the carpet."
"Sports Night" in its 2-year run won quite a lot of awards, but none of them were from the writing. It's good that there's still a lot of comic meat left after you strip away the repetition schtick, and much of that comes from the talented cast: Josh Charles (who got his start in John Waters's "Hairspray), Peter Krause (now in "Six Feet Under"), Felicity Huffman ("Out of Order"), Joshua Malina (who followed Sorkin to "The West Wing"), Sabrina Lloyd ("Sliders"), and Robert Guillaume ("Benson"). But the most significant people on "Sports Night" weren't the writers or actors, but rather the impressive crew behind the cameras. Here are just the award "Sports Night" won (skipping the 22 other nominations):
1999 DGA Award, Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series: Thomas Schlamme
1999 Emmy Award, Outstanding Multi-Camera Picture Editing for a Series: Janet Ashikaga
1999 Emmy Award, Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series: Thomas Schlamme
1999 Humanitas Prize, 30 Minute Category
1999 Television Critics Association Awards, Outstanding Achievement in Comedy
2000 DGA Award, Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series: Thomas Schlamme
2000 Emmy Award, Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series: Peter Smokler
2000 Genesis Award, Television - New Series
2000 PGA Golden Laurel Nova Award, Most Promising Producer in Television: Aaron Sorkin
2000 TV Guide Award, Best Show You're Not Watching
Do you remember the first episode of "ER"? This was ground-breaking television; it pulled you into the story by its technique of using moving cameras to record an action-packed scene in a single continuous piece rather than assemble lots of short cuts together. It's not surprising that Thomas Schlamme directed several episodes of "ER" before bringing this technique to "Sports Night". Continuous action is very expensive to shoot as it requires the sets to be contiguous, the lighting to be in place for all the places the camera will move to, and most importantly all the actors and camera and sound people have to avoid mistakes for the duration of the scene. But the payoff is a superior viewing experience. This show really delivered.
I could go on about the great recurring guest cast, with people like Teri Polo, Brenda Strong, William H. Macy, and Jayne Brook. Or the great music that ends most every episode. I could tell you that you'll be disappointed by the extras on the DVD collection (none at all). Or that Sorkin bowed to network pressure and added a laugh track for about half the first season before it became clear that the viewers were people who didn't need a laugh track to get the jokes. But the most important thing I can tell you is that you really should check out "Sports Night". Despite its several flaws it got many things right. "Sports Night" is good entertainment.
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
One of the best series ever! Aug. 20 2002
By Michael A. Brown - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Writer/creator Aaron Sorkin and director Thomas Schlamme went on to develop NBC's "The West Wing" during the second season of this wonderful series.
From the beginning, ABC had no clue of how to handle this show. First, they insisted that the producers ad a laugh track, because you don't know when to laugh. Then, they started to promote it like a soap opera, because it had serious issues to deal with at times.
Ultimately, the quality of the show came through. A fabulous cast provided excellent performances. Josh Charles ("A Few Good Men") and Sabrina Lloyd ("Sliders") are the MVPs here, consistently giving the show it's heart. Peter Krause ("Six Feet Under"), initially stiff in his "on air" role as Casey McCall, settled in well mid-first season.
The real gem here is Robert Guilamme ("Benson"), his Issac Jaffe is an excellent character brought to life with his gentle touch. Guilamme's real-life stroke was written into the series, and when he returned in the second season made for some wonderful moments and sly dialogue delivered by the veteran actor.
If you've not yet experienced this series, you may want to catch a rerun on late night Comedy Central. But, I whole-heartedly endorse adding this DVD set to your personal collection.
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
A great nominee for the best TV show you never saw April 21 2003
By Lawrance Bernabo - Published on Amazon.com
The proof of the pudding for the value of "Sports Night" is probably the fact that my wife, who usually refrains from attending sporting events with me and invariably walks out of the room if I turn on Sports Center, loved "Sports Night." This Aaron Sorkin creation aired for roughly two seasons worth of episodes between 1998-2000, and it provides the same sort of witty repartee and verbal sparring that we get on "The West Wing," albeit without the political overtones that make it a hit or miss with the ideological sensibilities of the viewer. On this show the outrage comes out of the casual dismissal of Babe Ruth as the athlete of the century, if you are really concerned about such things, but mostly this show is about the glories of frustration.

On one level the frustration comes from the wonderful and wacky world of being the 3rd rated 11 p.m.cable sports news show, where live prize fights do not go as long as planned and a newly signed baseball free agent disses the Big Apple in an interview. This is a world where how to stretch a story 15 seconds to the next commercial break raises the distinct possibility of destroying lives or at least careers, but not as much as the grim possibility that the network will be bought by somebody who will immediately kill off the show. Unlike "Murphy Brown," the most obvious fictional show to bring up for comparison, such crises might be a source of biting humor but they are not comic situations.

But more importantly there are the love lives of the main characters, which produce considerably more frustration on the part of the viewers. Casey McCall (Peter Krause), the anchor on the right is recently divorced and has strong feelings for producer Dana Whitaker (Felicity Huffman), who reciprocates them. However, these feelings do nothing to preclude the couple from putting every obstacle possible in their way. Dan Rydell (Josh Charles), the anchor on the left, falls for Rebecca Wells (Terri Polo), who he learns is not only married to a jerk, but interesting trying to work things out with him (the jerk, not Dan). Then there is Natalie Hurley (Sabrina Lloyd), the associate producer, who waits with pretty much no patience for Jeremy Goodwin (Joshua Malina), the walking encyclopedia of sports and other trivial matters, to notice that he is smitten by her.

Overlooking both areas of frustration is Isaac Jaffe (Robert Guillaume), the font of all wisdom and chief buffer with the CSC network, even if he does not always understand what his young charges are complaining about at any given moment. But when Isaac says something, like when he tells Dan that he loves him, but that he is never going to be impressed by a young white man comparing himself to Jackie Robinson. "Sports Night" is one of those works were you need to remember that God is in the details. Example: When Isaac gives Dana tickets to see "The Lion King" on Broadway, she returns all excited and quotes the lines of the character who summons all the animals; Robert Guillaume did the voice of Rafiki in the 1994 movie. So be open to deep and hidden meanings when you work your way through these six DVDs.

If you actually have a true appreciation for sports and if breaking a world's record or remembering the career of a forgotten sports figure have deep personal meaning for you, then "Sports Night" is an even richer tapestry. But the chief charm here is the verbiage flying back and forth at high speed (it does for the half-hour sit-com what "Moonlighting" did for the hour long sit-com in that regard). I only caught a few of these episodes the first time around, when those who cared about the quality of network programming were screaming that a show worthy of praise was going down the tubes, and I knew it was good, but I did not know that it was this good. Oh, and if we are making suggestions for vastly under-appreciated and greatly lamented television shows that should be released in their entirety on DVD, I want to vote for Hugh Wilson's "Frank's Place." Thank you for your attention to this matter.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Vintage Aaron Sorkin ... March 31 2003
By Jeff Wilder - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Between '98 and '00 I somehow missed the two-season run of Sports Night. I'm an avid TV watcher, but it somehow slipped beneath my radar, such that I'd barely heard of the show until a couple of months ago. And this despite the fact that the show won three Emmys!
That's when I learned that one of my favorite TV writers (Aaron Sorkin, The West Wing) had also written this half-hour "dramedy." (I hate that word, but it's better than "sit-com," which doesn't do Sports Night justice.) I'm such a huge Sorkin fan than when I saw that the (unfortunately short) series run of Sports Night was available on DVD, I bought it without having ever seen a single episode.
And I wasn't disappointed. While it's clear that with The West Wing Sorkin has polished his dialogue style, it's still unmistakable here: sharp, smart, staccato exchanges between characters, so quick and lively that it makes the characters seem even more intelligent than they are. It's not exactly realistic, but it's what I WISH reality was.
Like The West Wing, there's a great ensemble cast, too many to list individually. Most have gone on to other projects. And like The West Wing, Sports Night has its heart in the right place, as characters struggle with love, friendship, and work.
A great show. Though the DVD set isn't heavy on special features, it does pack all 45 episodes into six discs and one three-box set. Well worth the money.
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Sports Night at last! Nov. 8 2002
By Glenn L. Marcum - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Sports Night is one of the best shows ever aired & a must-have for any fan of great television! I didn't watch it first time around because I'm not a sports fan. But once I did see it (and fall in love with it) I realized I'd been a victim of the poor marketing that resulted in its cancellation. This is a beautiful DVD set; the only shortcoming is a lack of extras (some commentary tracks would have been nice) & there's no scene access -- the only chapter stops are at the beginning of each episode so you have to fast foward to particular scenes. Aside from that it's perfect! Thank goodness the DVD industry has finally realized that people WANT to buy complete seasons or entire runs of their favorite series! They've been releasing them this way in England for years. Until recently all we were lucky to get here in the States were "best of" compilations while the bulk of a series' shows had to be caught in synidication (if it were still being aired at all). And, maybe it's just me, but I hate having to watch my favorite shows through the constant barrage of network logos & "watch this show next" banners plastered on the screen. And don't get me stated on how a show's tag scene usually gets bumped for an ad for some upcoming TV event I'm not even interested in! Or the networks that squeeze the picture so they can run a constant black bar of trivia & other nuisances along the bottom of the screen. DVD is now the ONLY way you can watch your favorite shows as they were intended in clear, uninterrupted & uncluttered pleasure.


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