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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Quo Vadimus

Yes, I know there was a PS3 price drop. But let's talk television for a while anyway.

Sports Night, I believe, is Aaron Sorkin's greatest work ... although to be honest I've never dived much into West Wing because it always felt like Sports Night without the funny. Studio 60 mirrored the show in many ways, even more than the typical Sorkin dialogue and "walk and talk" directing ... but in that it was a show centered around a fictional show essentially lead by two male leads and a female boss.

While I enjoyed Studio 60 as reminiscent of Sports Night - it still pales somewhat in comparison. While it might have had higher production values, it never had ... well, what Sports Night would call an economy of language. Not in dialogue so much as that Sports Night manages to create a complex environment in a very short space. A half hour of Sports Night is almost always more entertaining than its hour long sibling.

I've watched the box set at least a half dozen times. I go back to this show when real life approaches this level of density. If that sounds like some kind of rabid fan obsession ... it is. Honestly the show spooks me out with its ability to create completely fictional events which actually relate not to some abstract global issue (as was more often the case with Studio) but stuff that actually happens to, you know, me.

For instance, I know a few people who should probably watch the episode where Dana realizes her big project has gone off the rails. Or even better, the scene where Sam informs upper executives that their notes "exhibit an almost total lack of understanding of how to get the best from talented people". Sports Night isn't just a show about a workplace which might be more colorful and funnier than yours ... it's a show about a workplace which is constantly under fire from forces both of its own creation and external.

Sadly there are times when I think the show wouldn't be so good if itself hadn't come under so much fire. Sam's quote comes from Cliff Gardner - an episode which may well have derived from Sorkin's own conflict with ABC keeping Sports Night on the air.

And it should be said that while the series finale, Quo Vadimus, is hardly the best episode - it is one of the best series finales in the history of television. It manages to end the series with a crescendo and a bit of hope that once you've watched the show from beginning to end for the sixth time ... you somewhat need.

With that said, I've got to sign off the blog for a while. Cathode Tan will be back in about a month, but in that time I've got to get married and leave the country (don't fret - on honeymoon). That and a handful of issues I can't really write about publically just yet - and I gotta say that in light of all that I can barely remember what Sony is doing with their pricing, much less actually care.

So don't worry - the blog's not going anywhere. When I get back, I'll have a new ring and possibly a tan.


Tony said...

We'll miss ya, but congrats on the wedding!

Troy Goodfellow said...

Watch West Wing. It's got a ton of character and is, I think, better than Sports Night. And the funny is there (as is the maudlin, sadly).

The early seasons are great because the "good guys" are beset by problems they can't fix and they need to refocus their energies to get back their campaign mojo.

Congrats on the wedding and honeymoon!