CliqueClack TV

Happy Sports Night Day!

Eleven years ago today, we saw the last episode of "Sports Night" on ABC. (Sob.) Join me, won't you, in celebrating why Aaron Sorkin's show that was not really about sports is still worth talking about eleven years later...

Oh, Sports Night. It’s been more than a decade since you went off the air — May 16, 2000 — and I still miss you. So let me take today, as I do every year, to get sentimental over how you were the best little show people didn’t watch.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about your greatness, and it won’t be the last. You just were too awesome, and did too many wonderful things, for me to ever feel like I’ve gotten it all down. I know for a fact that if you hadn’t popped up on ABC, I would be an Assistant District Attorney right now, instead of writing this column. Not that there’s anything wrong with prosecuting bad guys, but hearing Aaron Sorkin‘s brilliant writing for the first time was the exact moment I gave up the law for the TV set.

I can say that Josh Charles as Dan Rydell was my first celebrity crush. I had a soft spot for Peter Krause as Casey, too; I finally met him in 2008, and it’s going to stand as one of the best moments of my entire life. As will the time I met Joshua Malina. And when I met Brenda Strong. Really, everyone on this show was, and still is, special to me…down to the guys and gals that worked in the control room (that’s Ron Ostrow as Will, Jeff Mooring as Dave, Tim Davis-Reed as Chris, Greg Baker as Elliot and Kayla Blake as Kim, and yes, I wrote that from memory).

There are so many little memories I can trace back to you, too. I owe you for introducing me to the works of David Mamet. For giving me my first look at future White Collar star Tim DeKay (in the episode “Cliff Gardner”). For turning NFL Draft Day into a holiday for me. For the “Casey” bracelet that my best friend gave me as a graduation present. And for the fact that he still, eleven years later, will randomly call me up to ask if I remember where Helsinki is…

I could go on. But I’ve got a date with your DVD set.

Instead, I’ll give a shout-out to my colleague Ivey West, who wrote a pair of great pieces about Sports Night himself, which you can find here and here. And I’ll open the floor to my fellow TV lovers: what are your fondest Sports Night memories? Favorite characters? Favorite quotes? Let’s share them all one more time.

Happy Sports Night Day, everyone!

Photo Credit: ABC

Categories: | Clack | Features | General | Open Letters | TV Shows |

3 Responses to “Happy Sports Night Day!”

May 16, 2011 at 6:11 PM

Sports Night Day! I’m with you.

I agree on the memories, and I can quote the lines, and a few too many of my personal interactions are directly or indirectly influenced by the content and/or style of the show … but why? At least part of my love comes from Sports Night being one of my first TV on DVD purchases. I’m actually on my third version of the DVD set, as I ruined one with a cheap DVD player and gave one to a friend who took to it nicely.

Anyway … the Pilot is awesome. The Apology is awesome. Six Southern Gentleman is awesome (turned a few friends onto the show with that one). The Hungry and the Hunted I know by heart. Music choices — Sloop John B, Eli’s Coming, Boogie Shoes, She Will Have Her Way, It Hurt So Bad — very few missteps over the 2-year run. (Dana’s dating plan sort of bothered me, but without it we lose some of my favorite Casey lines/stories.)

Extra long quote — my pick for best guest star, Bill Macy:

Sam: “I’ve looked over the notes you’ve been giving over the last year or so, and I have to say they exhibit an almost total lack of understanding of how to get the best from talented people.”
Tasker: “Excuse me, but…”
Sam: “You said before that for whatever reason I seem to be able to exert some authority around here. I assure you, it’s not ’cause they like me, it’s ’cause they knew two minutes after I walked in the door I’m someone who knows how to do something. I can help. I can make glass tubes. That’s what they need. One last thing. The first and last decision-making authority on this show will rest with Isaac Jaffee until Isaac Jaffee says otherwise, and if you disrespect him in my presence again, I will rededicate the rest of my life to ruining the rest of yours. You think I’m just mouthing at you? You should ask around about me. I have absolutely no conscious about these things.”
JJ: “Sam, why did you bring us out here?”
Sam: “Because, there’s the exit. That’s it. The meeting’s over.”

May 16, 2011 at 7:24 PM

Happy Sports Night Day! The fact that it hasn’t been released on Region 2 DVD is one of the great injustices of the world.

May 17, 2011 at 6:55 AM

Loved Sports Night, doesn’t seem like it was 11 years ago.

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