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ABC (ended 2000)

Sports Night/West Wing Connection

Which is the best Aaron Sorkin show?

  • Avatar of sokerchick

    sokerchick

    [1]Apr 23, 2007
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    Aaron Sorkin produced and wrote for both the West Wing and Sports Night.  So there are obvious connections there.  But here is my comment.  A some of the story lines got re-used.  Is it odd to anyone else that despite the short run for Sports Night that whole story lines would be totatly re-used in West Wing.

    The best example I can give of this is the parallel between Jeremy and Sam.  On Sports Night Jeremy's father is having a 27 year long affair with someone and the same happens to Sam Seaborn in the episode 'Someone is going to Emergency, Someone is going to Jail"  

    It's just odd that they were both 27 year affairs.  there are a few other examples that I can't think of off the top of my head.  On top of that though Josh Melina eventually replaces Rob Lowe's character on West Wing which i thought was odd.  Anyway...

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  • Avatar of IndianaMom

    IndianaMom

    [2]May 19, 2007
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    Yes there are similarities. Not to mention the actors that appeared in both shows. To answer your quesiton, though I loved Sports Night, I'd have to say West Wing is the better show. Maybe because it had more time to grow.
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  • Avatar of jamoon2006

    jamoon2006

    [3]Aug 3, 2007
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    While I liked The West Wing, I respectfully submit that Sports Night was the better (and still Aaron Sorkin's best) series. The cast gelled immediately (whereas Mandy was a flop and Charlie was a late addition on Wing) and the balance of comedy and drama was perfect. Plus, I think the 30 minute running time works better for Sorkin's rat-a-tat-tat dialogue. The more frantic pace keeps the energy up and the quips flying. West Wing might have been harder to pull off as a half-hour, but Sports Night is exactly the right length.

    And with only two seasons, Sports Night never had the chance to run out of gas. Personally, I think West Wing was showing fatigue mid-way through Season 3, rebounded slightly at the end of Season 4 and then became a shell of itself for the final episodes. Sports Night is consistently good. Much like The Rockford Files, there isn't a bad episode of Sports Night, just episodes that aren't as good as others.

    I also prefer the actors on Sports Night and their characters. The gang at CSC always seemed more real than the Bartlett team. Maybe it was because the Sports Night folks were usually down in the chips (ratings, network executives, health concerns) it generated more personal drama. West Wing dealt with bigger issues, but I don't think it ever nailed the interpersonal relationships the way Sports Night did. The Danny/Casey dynamic was never equaled by Sam/Josh, Sam/Toby, etc. All of the relationships were genuine (Natalie/Dana, Natalie/Jeremy, etc.) Even the guys in the booth were distinct characters with just a handful of lines in each episode.

    Maybe another key to Sports Night's success is that it isn't about sports. For all of the accidental prostitute encounters and attempts to get panda bears, The West Wing is a show about running the country and the people in charge. The folks at Sports Night could literally be plopped into almost any office/work setting and still be the way they are. As we saw with Studio 60, if you put character-types from the White House into other situations (i.e., a comedy show), they are overbearing, smug and condescending. But every office or group has a nerd (Jeremy), everybody's girl Friday (Natalie), the long-suffering boss (Isaac), the manager who has trouble controlling the group (Dana), etc. So few episodes actually address sports-specific storylines...the drama is character-driven instead of relying on the surroundings.

    Again, I'm not saying West Wing was bad (that honor goes to Studio 60). I just think Sports Night benefitted from a better cast and a set-up that was more conducive to Sorkin's writing. As we've seen with Studio 60, I think the more serious Aaron Sorkin tries to be, the weaker the end result.

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  • Avatar of igotbupkis

    igotbupkis

    [4]Mar 31, 2008
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    > The gang at CSC always seemed more real than the Bartlett team.

    That's because West Wing idealized Democrats. In the real world, there are William Jeffersons, and the Dems and the media, even when forced to see the cold, hard cash, quickly look the other way. On West Wing, if they are there at all, they are .
    a) Members of the GoP
    or
    b) Quickly, tearfully admit they made a mistake and resign, just to show that all Dems are really, really straight-up honest people, instead of politicians.

    The gang at CSC are more real -- they have strokes, they are in danger of getting dismantled over bad ratings, they have "ratings experts" forced upon them. (They do all appear to be Democrats, although most people don't know that sports journalists tend to be the only right-leaning group of journalists, so it's a subtle weakness in the reality of the show most won't catch).
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  • Avatar of dylanesque

    dylanesque

    [5]Apr 27, 2008
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    Hello ! I'm French and I love The West Wing and Sport Nights ! But I think Studio 60 is not that good, i only watch it because of Matthew Perry and Brad Whitford... Another connection between TWW and Sport Nights is that the two series share a title name : "What Kind of Day Has It Been?".
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  • Avatar of Knavehart

    Knavehart

    [6]May 15, 2008
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    dylanesque wrote:
    Hello ! I'm French and I love The West Wing and Sport Nights ! But I think Studio 60 is not that good, i only watch it because of Matthew Perry and Brad Whitford... Another connection between TWW and Sport Nights is that the two series share a title name : "What Kind of Day Has It Been?".

    Which is also the last episode of S60 - a connection between SN and Studio 60 is the 11 years of sobriety that Danny Tripp had before testing positive for coccaine and the 11 years since Dan Rydell says its been since he had taken any drugs.

    Also I think the relationship between Jennie the porn star and Jeremy became the relationship between Sam and hooker at the beginning of West Wing (had SN been picked up for season 3 I don't think Jeremy and Natalie would have reconciled)
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  • Avatar of HonestJohn99

    HonestJohn99

    [7]Dec 10, 2008
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    In the the sports night episode 1x23 - What kind of day has it been Jeremy speaks the line about the fall matters when the fall is the only thing left, the same expression is used in the west wing episode H-Con 172 (episode 3x10)
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  • Avatar of Jazzman13

    Jazzman13

    [8]Mar 22, 2009
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    I don't have the titles of the episodes on hand (sorry) but Sam Seaborn obsesses over a mistake he made in which he confuses Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan ("there aren't nuclear weapons in Kyrgyzstan...there are barely pots and pans in Kyrgyzstan!") when speaking to a woman. He tries desperately to correct this to avoid looking foolish.

    Dan Rydell confuses the terms secular and non-secular when speaking to Hilary Clinton, and is worried that she'll think he's stupid. Casey points out she might just think he's a bigot. As for having to choose...I love both the West Wing and Sports Night (I really like Studio 60, but I don't love it). But as similar as they can be, they're apples and oranges. I tend to feel more invested in the characters on Sports Night though. They tend to be more relateable.
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  • Avatar of lovemj

    lovemj

    [9]May 13, 2009
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    Jazzman13 wrote:
    I don't have the titles of the episodes on hand (sorry) but Sam Seaborn obsesses over a mistake he made in which he confuses Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan ("there aren't nuclear weapons in Kyrgyzstan...there are barely pots and pans in Kyrgyzstan!") when speaking to a woman. He tries desperately to correct this to avoid looking foolish.

    Dan Rydell confuses the terms secular and non-secular when speaking to Hilary Clinton, and is worried that she'll think he's stupid. Casey points out she might just think he's a bigot.


    I love those two scenes...Classic Sorkin

    Sam: In fact we were talking about the stability of former Soviet republics and their fear of Islamic extremism and I have to say that I made some very scholarly points regarding the remaining nuclear weapons in Kyrgyzstan and I have to believe...
    Josh: Kazakhstan.
    Sam: Hmm?
    Josh: The nuclear weapons are in Kazakhstan.
    Sam: I said Kyrgyzstan?
    Josh: Yeah.
    Sam: Well Kyrgyzstan has no nuclear weapons.
    Josh Lyman: No.
    Sam: Kazakhstan's a country four times the size of Texas and has a sizable number of former Russian missile silos.
    Josh: Yeah.
    Sam: Kirghizstan's on the side of a hill near China and has mostly nomads and sheep.
    ~ Season 2, Episode 11 - The Leadership Breakfast

    Dan: I mixed up! I inverted the definitions of "secular" and "nonsecular"!
    Casey: Looks like that might be the case.
    Dan: Hilary Clinton thinks I'm an idiot!
    Casey: Either that or a religious bigot.
    Dan: I went to an Ivy League school, Casey.
    Casey: A proud day for Dartmouth, Dan.
    ~ Season 2, Episode 2 - When Something Wicked This Way Comes
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