It’s not easy being Aaron Sorkin. Two years ago, the onetime wunderkind launched the expensive-looking, ill-fated backstage drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Thanks in no small part to Tina Fey’s 30 Rock (which tackles the very same subject but is, you know, funny), Studio 60 barely made it to the end of its first and only season. But oh, to have a time machine and travel back to 1998, when we got our very first taste of Sorkin’s first TV series, Sports Night.
Set behind the scenes at a Sports Center–like, ESPN-esque show, Sorkin’s half-hour
sitcom was also his first collaboration with director Thomas Schlamme — a partnership that continued with The West Wing and culminated on Sunset Strip. The Sorkin formula — razor-sharp characters, lightning-quick dialogue, and a welcome refusal to cater to the lowest-common-denominator audience — was already in place, and actors Josh Charles, Felicity Huffman, Peter Krause, Joshua Malina, and Robert Guillaume were all in fine fettle. Unlike Studio 60, which it outlasted by a single season, Sports Night is endlessly entertaining, and sorely missed.
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