Sports Night

Season 1 Episode 1


Aired Tuesday 9:30 PM Sep 22, 1998 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
53 votes

By Users

Episode Summary


Sports Night, Continental Sports Channel's 11 pm sports news show, has a crisis. Casey, one of their anchors, whose divorce is affecting both his on- and off-screen performance, as well as morale for the rest of the crew. Meanwhile, a major error in last night's script means a new associate producer/analyst must be hired, and Casey decides to fix his issues with a life-changing decision that will likely alter CSC's "#3 sports network" place in the ratings.


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  • Gods, what a great show!

    Aaron Sorking did an awesome job of getting this show out of the box in a flash with intelligent writing, excellent humor, and a fantastic cast the meshed right from the getgo. One of the things I love about all his shows and movies is the character development and he once again does it here with just the first episode - you instantly seemed to know all of the characters! The show is fast pace and intelligent! It's just a pity that Sorkin decided to put this show aside when West Wing started taking off!

    If you like this one, watch the rest. If you don't like it, go back to the A-Team or the Dukes of Hazzard!moreless
  • Running faster than any show ever has before!

    I sit here wondering exactly why I'm writing this review, the already existing review is by far better than any I could ever write and encourage you to read it.

    ...but, there was only one review, and I wanted to put my oar in. No television show this good should go unnoticed.

    I don't like sports. I loved this show. The pace the writing, the acting. Tremendous. The walk and talk method perfected here before The West Wing even aired was a superb addition to television.

    What strikes me the most about this show was it's ability to mix comedy and drama in a half hour format. It was evident in the first episode.

    The previous reviewer really got it right, this show hit the ground running and never let up. That is until the network tinkered too much, screwed it up and cancelled it.

    But thank goodness we have two seasons of this exceptional show!moreless
  • Damn this series is good. Possibly the best, and certainly one of the best, ever on TV. This is only the pilot and it still manages to establish characters and make their love for sports understandable to you, even if you don't care about sports.moreless

    This episode is a particularly good episode even though it is the pilot. Pilots are usually rough, uncertain about the characters, and yet this one has all the characters rather thoroughly fleshed out. Usually there are tweaks to be made after the pilot -- not so here. Sorkin knew what he wanted and made it flesh in the pilot itself.

    In addition to establishing the characters, it also establishes the heart of the show, which is their love for sports. The central plot of this ep is Casey's poor performance in recent times, partly due to personal issues but also due to a displeasure with the increasing thugism and poor sportsmanship of the athletes he sees, which is tearing at his love for sports. Not only is he close to getting fired, but he's even seriously considering quitting all togethe.

    A pivotal event in sports (fictional, of course) occurs, and it helps him recapture that love for the activity.

    In the process of this, the overall sense of family which is a great part of the show is established, a new member is introduced to the family (sports/techno geek 'Jeremy', a bit overplayed in this ep but smoothed out very quickly in subsequent episodes) and (thankfully) the laugh track is heard for the last time.

    This show is one of the few I've seen which didn't need time to get its legs -- it hits the ground running and never stopped until the idiots at ABC chopped its legs out from under it.

    For the new viewer, one thing to be aware of -- the comic timing of this show is very unusual, and takes some getting used to. The dialogue is snappy, almost Mametish, and it is faster paced than many shows are. It pays to give the show time, even if you don't like the first few you've seen.

    Also, don't let the underlying nature of the show dissuade you. Even those with no interest in sports will find this show particularly effective. I can say that because I pay only limited attention to sports myself, yet can easily see, as a result of this show, what people find interesting about them. Trust me, you don't need an interest in sports to enjoy Sports Night.moreless
Robert Mailhouse

Robert Mailhouse


Guest Star

Bernard Hocke

Bernard Hocke


Guest Star

Nina Jane Barry

Nina Jane Barry


Guest Star

Kayla Blake

Kayla Blake


Recurring Role

Greg Baker

Greg Baker


Recurring Role

Timothy Davis-Reed

Timothy Davis-Reed


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • During the rundown meeting, Dana mentions that the story on Ntosake Nelson on the show was promoting the games. Later that day they are watching it on TV after that they go on in eleven minutes. How would a story be promoting an event if the story is given after the event? Perhaps what they were watching on TV was only one of the overall events being broadcast? The promo piece would have followed his run as color, but still been attempting to drum up interest in the rest of the coverage of The Games.

    • Gaff: As Isaac walks in to get Casey he is wearing a name tag. When he goes in it is gone. When he walks back out it is back again.

  • QUOTES (11)

    • Casey: (to Dan) It's not that my teasers are better than yours, Danny, it's that yours a vastly inferior to mine.

    • Dana: (to Casey) I love producing Sports Night. I live from 11 to midnight, and the rush is so huge I don't come down until three o'clock in the morning. I love doing Sports Night, and you used to, too.

    • Casey: Here's something I don't understand about rugby...
      Dan: Whoa. You DO understand about rugby?
      Casey: I played rugby alright. Now I wanna ask you a question...
      Dan: Wait, wait, WHEN have you played rugby?
      Casey: When I was in college, I played co-ed rugby.
      Dan: (laughing) You did not play rugby.

    • Casey: You wanna do somethin tonight after the show?
      Dan: Yeah. You know I was gonna ride the Staten Island Ferry for a while and eat a hot dog. You wanna come?
      Casey: Yeah. I do. And I'll tell you why. Cause it's 17 degrees outside with the wind chill so what I wanna do is stand outside in the middle of New York Harbor at half past midnight.
      Dan: You have a better idea?
      Casey: Well, we could go to a bar, find some people we don't like and beat the crap out of them. (Dan high fives Casey)

    • Dana: What are your favorite sports?
      Jeremy: I beg your pardon?
      Dana: Where are you strongest?
      Jeremy: Oh, football.
      Dana: Great, let's talk about basketball.
      Jeremy: I said football.
      Dana: I heard you. Let's talk about basketball.
      Jeremy: Ah, we could talk about baseball or hockey.
      Dana: You're pretty strong in baseball and hockey, are you?
      Jeremy: Not as strong as football, but...
      Dana: Great, let's talk about the Knicks.
      Jeremy: I walked right into that one, didn't I.
      Dana: Well, I left the door wide open for you.
      Natalie: Shot of bourbon?
      Jeremy: Please.
      Dana: Sit. I'm sorry, that was harsh, I hurt your feelings. Name three things the Knicks need to do this season, to make it to the finals.
      Jeremy: I couldn't get another question?
      Dana: You will. But not till I get an answer to the first one.
      Jeremy: What do the Knicks...
      Dana: Three things the Knicks need to do to contend.
      Jeremy: Ms. Whitaker, I'd be great at this job. You gotta believe me when I tell you I've been training my whole life for it. I've crunched stats, I've broken down film, and there wasn't a team at my high school that didn't have me for an equipment manager. I have read every box score in every paper that's written in english and has a sports section and I have seen Sports Night every night since your first broadcast, two years, two months, and a week ago today. Now yes, sure, indeed, I can tell you what Ewing and Oakley are shooting from the field, and I can tell you that you're not gonna stop John Starks if he squares up to the basket, and put any defensive pressure on Charlie Ward he's gonna fold like a cheap card table. But if you're asking me for genuinly sophisticated analysis, AND I SENSE THAT YOU ARE, you gotta give me some time. At least 20 minutes. Did that make any sense?
      Dana: I wasn't really listening.
      Jeremy: Oh God.
      Dana: Jeremy, Jeremy. This is television, things happen. If you wanna work here you gotta not spontaneously wig out.
      Natalie: Not till an hour before airtime.
      Jeremy: Right. Right. The Knicks.
      Dana: Name three things!
      Jeremy: Inprove their Free-Throw Percentage.
      Natalie: Yes.
      Jeremy: Run the floor.
      Dana: OK, one more.
      Jeremy: Tell Spike Lee to sit down and shut up?
      Natalie: Excellent!
      Dana: Well, welcome to Sports Night.

    • Casey: Listen, I need you to take 30 seconds off the NFL injury report and give it to me for the intro on ACC recruiting violations.
      Dana: Fine.
      Casey: Thanks.
      Dana: You're screwing up my show, Casey.
      Casey: Keep the 30 seconds.
      Dana: That's not what I mean.
      Casey: I know, I was joking.
      Dana: I know you were joking.
      Casey: I could tell by the way you didn't laugh at all when I said it.
      Dana: That's cause I'm mad at you and also because it wasn't that funny.

    • Casey: 32 points. It was a career high. Then he sends a guy to the hospital with 14 stitches. Can you imagine if he'd had a lousy game?
      Dan: You come in early?
      Casey: I came in early.
      Dan: You slept in the office?
      Casey: I came in early.
      Dan: You came in yesterday.
      Casey: (whining) Mom.

    • (Dan is going over the script and raises his hand)
      Dan: Ah, excuse me!?
      Dana: Dan's got his hand raised.
      Dan: Why are we quoting high level sources inside the Swiss Olympic Commitee on Helsinki's bid for the 2010 Olympics?
      Dana: What's the problem?
      Dan: Helsinki's in Finland.
      Dana: Really?
      Dan: Don't worry, I got it.
      Dana: Are you sure?
      Dan: Am I sure that Helsinki's in Finland? Yeah. I'm quite sure.
      Chris: I thought it was in Sweden.
      Will: It says unnamed Swiss olympic officials.
      Natalie: Graphics! Which is it -- Sweden or Switzerland?
      Casey: It's in Finland!
      Natalie: Elliot! Get something up on the net.
      Elliot: What do you need?
      Natalie: We think Helsinki might be in Finland.
      Dan: Yeah. We think there's a pretty good chance.
      Dave: Coming in live in 15.
      Dana: We'll change it on the teleprompter.
      Dan: Cool.
      Dave: In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
      Dan: (on camera)Good evening everybody. From New York City, I'm Dan Rydell alongside Casey McCall, those stories and more plus we'll take you live to the lockerroom at Arrowhead.
      Casey: All that coming up after this. You're watching Sports Night on CSC so stick around.
      Dave: We're out. Up in 60.
      Elliot: Yeah. Finland. The national bird is the Whooping Swan.
      Casey and Dan: (snidely, in unison) Thank you.

    • Natalie: (yelling into the microphone) CASEY! DID YOU GET THE CHANGE ON ARROWHEAD AND DENVER?
      Casey: (yanking off headset) Natalie, if you shout into a microphone while I'm wearing an earpiece it poses the question: Is there a decibel level at which the human head will just, you know, explode!
      Isaac: (to Dana) Is he in a better mood than he was this morning or is this gonna be another crappy show?
      Dana: (into the microphone) Hey Casey, Isaac just want to know if you're in a better mood...
      Casey: Shut up.
      Dana: Pretty crappy, yeah.

    • J.J.: I’m concerned with Casey’s performance on the air lately.
      Dan: What’s your point?
      J.J.: My point is, at the moment, Casey has less on-air charm and charisma than my high school driving instructor, and you know it, Dan. Now I think the time has come for you to think about the possibility of another partner.
      Dan: I’m not going to do the show with your high school driving instructor, J.J., if that’s what you’re asking me, OK?
      JJ: Who will you do the show with?
      Dan: I'll do the show with Casey.
      JJ: You've got a very big future at this network, Dan--
      Dan: My future -- is writing and anchoring a sports program with my partner, Casey McCall. Now if it's here, it's here. If it's not, it's somewhere else. For right now, I'm going to forget this conversation ever took place.

    • Dan: Casey's got Tampa Bay and the mighty Bengals, of Cincinnati.
      Dana: What's in Cincinnati?
      Dan: Well, the mighty Bengals, for one thing.
      Casey: They're gonna cut Santori.
      Natalie: The place kicker
      Casey: He's made 8 field goal attmpts in 3 games and has connected on a grand total of none of them.
      Elliot: Oh, I've met him, he's a good guy.
      Casey: He can't kick.
      Natalie: He is a good guy.
      Casey: He can't kick.
      Natalie: He'll get picked up by another team.
      Casey: No he won't, you know why?
      Elliot: Why?
      Casey: Because he can't kick.
      Dana: (trying to keep meeting going) Alright! Commercial one, then onto the dugout report.
      Elliot: (ignoring Dana) I saw him kick in practice.
      Casey: At this level they pretty much want you to be able to kick in a game.
      Dana: Moving on, from center ice...
      Kim: I once kicked a 12 yard field goal in gym class.
      Dan: Then you should get yourself a tryout for the mighty Bengals, of Cincinnati.
      Dana: (exasperated) Excuse me. If anyone needs me I'll be hurling myself out the window.

  • NOTES (9)

    • Bernard Hocke was replaced by Jeff Mooring after this episode. They play a character called "Dave", the Sports Night technical director. Claire (played by Nina Jane Barry) is never seen again.

    • Sorkin Intersections:
      > Felicity Huffman guested on The West Wing.
      > Joshua Malina recurred on The West Wing. He also appeared in A Few Good Men and The American President.
      > Greg Baker guested on The West Wing.
      > Timothy Davis-Reed recurred on The West Wing, and guested on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
      > Ron Ostrow recurred on The West Wing, and guested on Studio 60 and The Newsroom. He also appeared in A Few Good Men and Charlie Wilson's War.

    • Thomas Schlamme won the 1999 Emmy award for "Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series" for his directing on this episode.

    • According to some sources, originally, the idea of the show was to have Casey as the lead, and Dan as the loyal sidekick friend; however, in writing it and some lobbying from Josh Charles, Sorkin decided to develop the team more equally.

    • In early copies of the script, Natalie's last name was "Rydell", and Dan's was "Rosen." Also, the network was called "SNN" rather than CSC.

    • Joshua Malina originally wanted and auditioned for the part of Dan Rydell. Sorkin already had Josh Charles in mind for Dan, but rewrote Jeremy Goodwin's character especially for Malina, who he had worked with previously.

    • One of the commercials for Sports Night included the slogan: "It's about sports like Baywatch is about water safety"

    • Alternate production code is 514-H.

    • Many trivia and background information is released in this episode, such as that CSC stands for Continental Sports Channel, and that Luther Sachs is the CEO of the company. Also Dan and Casey originated the show two years and two months ago, making their first show around mid July of 1996.


    • Casey: ...and let's not forget the mother of all great sports stories, a double homicide in Brentwood.

      One-time football great O.J. Simpson was tried and acquitted of the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. The trial of O.J. Simpson lasted nine months and divided the country. It is generally presumed that O.J. was actually guilty of the crime, but due to police tampering with the evidence along with racial issues, he was allowed to go free.

    • Casey Any atrocity, no matter how hideous or ridiculous or childish, it doesn't matter, I make it "sports"... ten cent bagman whacks a skater's leg with a crowbar? That's "sports"...

      Ice skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked in 1994 by a man wielding a blunt object after a practice at the U.S. Olympic trials. Teammate Tonya Harding was later found guilty of hindering a police investigation that found her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly guilty of helping plan the attack, and her body guard and his friends of executing the attack, with the intention of removing Kerrigan from competition, where she tended to beat Harding consistently.

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