Sports Night

ABC (ended 2000)



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Sports Night ran nearly two full seasons on the ABC network in the United States during the '98-99 and '99-00 seasons. Created by Emmy Award winning writer/director, Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The American President), this was his first venture into television. Smart, fast-paced, witty and featuring a fine ensemble cast, Sports Night struggled in the ratings from the start, particularly during its second season, when it was routinely pre-empted and moved from night to night. Art imitated life imitating art, as the show-within-a-show took on a consultant (William H. Macy, in his first TV role since his stint on ER), hired to "tweak" the ratings. The show-within-a-show continued to falter, amidst rumors of the imminent sale of its network and the subsequent gutting of its staff. Upon its cancellation, several networks, most notably HBO, came to Sorkin for a possible move to the respected network, but nothing was ever solidified. Sports Night gained additional exposure through a subsequent syndication on Comedy Central.

2001 Image Awards
Nominated – Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series; Robert Guillaume

2001 Satellite Awards
Nominated – Best Performance by an Actor in a Series, Comedy or Musical; Robert Guillaume

2000 Emmy Awards
Winner – Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series; Peter Smokler ("The Cut Man Cometh")
Nominated – Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series; Bonnie Zane and Paula Rosenberg
Nominated – Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series; Thomas Schlamme ("Quo Vadimus")
Nominated – Outstanding Multi-Camera Picture Editing for a Series; Janet Ashikaga ("The Cut Man Cometh")
Nominated – Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series; William H. Macy

2000 Golden Globe Awards
Nominated – Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series, Comedy/Musical; Felicity Huffman

2000 PGA Awards (Producers Guild of America)
Nominated – Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television; Aaron Sorkin, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Tony Krantz, Thomas Schlamme, Rob Scheidlinger

2000 DGA Awards (Directors Guild of America)
Won – Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series; Thomas Schlamme ("Small Town")

2000 Eddie Award (American Cinema Editors)
Nominated – Best Edited Half-Hour Series for Television; Janet Ashikaga ("Small Town")

2000 SAG Awards (Screen Actors Guild)
Nominated – Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series; Josh Charles, Robert Guillaume, Felicity Huffman, Peter Krause, Sabrina Lloyd, Joshua Malina

2000 Artios (Casting Society of America)
Nominated – Best Casting for TV, Comedy Episodic; Bonnie Zane, Paula Rosenberg

2000 Image Awards
Nominated – Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series; Robert Guillaume

1999 Emmy Awards
Won – Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series; Thomas Schlamme (pilot)
Won – Outstanding Multi-Camera Picture Editing for a Series; Janet Ashikaga ("Small Town")
Nominated – Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series; Aaron Sorkin ("The Apology")

1999 DGA Award (Directors Guild of America)
Won – Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series; Thomas Schlamme (pilot)

1999 Art Directors Guild
Nominated – Excellence in Production Design Award, Television Series; Thomas Azzari

1999 Artios (Casting Society of America)
Nominated - Best Casting for TV, Comedy Episodic; Bonnie Zane and Paula Rosenberg
Nominated – Best Casting for TV, Comedy Pilot; Bonnie Zane and Paula Rosenberg

1999 TCA Award (Television Critics Association)
Won – Outstanding Achievement in Comedy
Nominated – New Program of the Year
Nominated – Program of the Year

1999 Humanitas Prize
Won – 30 Minute Category; Aaron Sorkin, Matt Tarses, David Walpert, Bill Wrubel ("The Six Southern Gentlemen of Tennessee")
Nominated – 30 Minute Category; Bill Wrubel, Aaron Sorkin ("The Quality Of Mercy At 29K")

1999 Image Awards
Nominated – Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series; Robert Guillaume

1999 Genesis Awards
Won – Television, New Series ("The Hungry and the Hunted")


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    • A fine show, but the writing style was formulaic.

      I like this show and have the DVD set. The actors were superb. The plots were superb. The character development was superb. "Then why give it a mediocre 7?" you ask. Here's why: The writing makes me cringe. I have seen reviews that say this was "fast paced" . It's not hard to be fast paced when you constantly repeat the previous line spoken. Here's an example of the writing style (I do not think it is an actual excerpt):

      "Hey, where are you going?"

      "What do you mean 'where am I going'?"

      "I want to know where you're

      "Why do you want to know where I'm going?"

      etc. etc. I would say at least one-third of the entire script fits this formulaic writing style. This is not exactly witty banter. When I'm listening to it, I generally claw at my head and yell at the TV "ANSWER THE @$#% QUESTION!!"moreless
    • Not bad.

      I never missed an episode of this show during it's original run and even recorded all but a few. I was thrilled to see this was released on DVD. I've turned a few people on to this show via my video tapes and we all love it. The reason to watch this show isn't the guffaws. You smile and snicker more then laugh out loud. But for shear entertainment you just can't beat it. The characters are real and you can relate to all of them and more importantly you care for all of them. The real genius of this show is not just the story and characters, but the dialogue. The way the actors deliver the lines, and the lines themselves are a joy to listen to and what makes this show watchable again and again. You will never get tired of listening to the verbal volleys between the actors. I can't say enough about the writing and acting of this show. Borrow it, rent it, buy it, whatever you have to to see it. Give it just a few episodes (ignore the lame laugh track on the first episode or 2) and I guarantee you'll be happily addicted to possibly the most well written (and acted) television show ever.moreless
    • More than a decade later I'm writing reviews, complaining about good shows that are canceled because they're too intelligent for the general public and I compare them each to the mother of all criminal cancelations: Sports Nightmoreless

      I actually saw "Jeremy" on the Series Finale of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - it was ironic that he'd get a big guest star role in the finale episode. He did an excellent job. Of course Felicity Huffman has done well for herself - and her husband never had a problem. "Dan" has been in a number of things though he hasn't had the success of his desk partner in "6 Feet Under" and other roles. I miss Natalie and of course Robert. If I ever see a copy of the show with the laugh-track - I'll burn it - what a humiliating way to go for a great show.

      SN: RIPmoreless
    • Quite simply - the best show ever. Excellent writing, acting, direction.

      Just choosing the classification for Sports Night is tough. "Personal Favorite" or "Absolutely Fabulous" certainly fit. "Underappreciated" is also a big one. Even TV Guide gave it the title of "Best Show You're Not Watching. So what happened? Was it "Ahead of it's time?" Comedy? Drama? Dramedy, even? I loved that you never knew what you were getting. Some episodes had me laughing out loud the entire way through, others had me in tears. Isn't this the mark of a great show? It doesn't have to be one or the other. The audience really connected with the characters. We cared. How many shows nowadays can we say we truly care about these characters?

      A sports show? A show about a television show? A workplace comedy? A relationship comedy? Yes - all of them, and yet none of the above. You didn't have to like sports to enjoy Sports Night. The references were certainly there, but you certainly didn't miss out by not being a jock. The TV references were there, but not so much that it lost the non-techies of us. Maybe we learned a little about ratings! We cared about the relationships, be it Casey and Dana, Natalie and Jeremy, Dan and Rebecca or others - yet those never over rode the premise. The show never became a romantic comedy or tragedy. It kept us on our toes. It kept us smart. Pop culture references were abundant, and Sorkin expected his viewers to be of reasonable intelligence to get half the jokes. Hmmm, maybe this was the problem... Smart shows followed in the same vein and did better; The West Wing, Gilmore Girls, and several others. Perhaps Sports Night helped break ground, if only among critics. They began looking out for more sharply written, well crafted dialogue.

      One thing is for sure, this show bolstered many careers. Had anyone really heard of Peter Krause, Felicity Huffman, Joshua Malina, or even Teri Polo, Brenda Strong or the great Aaron Sorkin before Sports Night hit the screen? No offense to the other cast members, there was no one that was any less fantastic. I am persoanlly a big fan of Josh Charles and am happy to know that he is following his heart on stage. Krause and Huffman each went on to star in their own incredibly successful programs (Six Feet Under, Desperate Housewives). Malina entered the realm of The West Wing as well as landed several leading prime time roles. Ms Strong must have one of the cushiest jobs in TV now as our Housewives narrarator, and Teri Polo has been successful on both the big and small screen since. Sorkin is clearly a love him or hate him kind of writer, but no one can deny the influence that The West Wing has had on television. Some may even suggest that he left Sports Night to flounder because he was concentrating on TWW. Maybe, maybe not. Either way, I am sure that SN gave some the springboard they needed to gaining credibility in Hollywood. The Special Edition 10th Anniversary DVDs come out this fall. I'll be getting mine the day they are available.moreless
    • Stupendous show, Sorkin at his best.

      This show was ahead of its time. This was the first show that Sorkin wrote for TV, and easily could have had a West Wing type run, and probably should have had one. This show was the very first of the witty sitcoms. It was well written beyond anything else on TV, and I believe it was just too fast and over the head of most people for that time, and on a major network. If it could have been on a CW, WB type channel it would have lasted and been Gilmore Girls before there was one. One of my very favorites, and it's very missed.moreless

    More Info About This Show


    Comedy, Drama


    office politics, Dark Comedy, Cult, Adult, ensemble cast