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Sports Night - The Complete Series Review

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Sports Night - The Complete Series
The Best TV Show You Never Saw

arizona1121, United States of America (Reviewer Ranking: 1) wrote this review on December 25, 2005:

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.

Thanks Lawrence Bernabo

Video Rating: 10101010101010101010
Audio Rating: 8888888888
Extras Rating: 3333333333
Movie Rating: 9999999999
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