I suppose I have to explain this selection more than most. After all, Sports Night isn’t one of those beloved TV classics, like The Andy Griffith Show (Great American Things, Feb. 12, 2011). Nor is it a cult favorite, such as Lost (Great American Things, Jan. 27, 2011). In fact, Sports Night only stayed on the air for two seasons (1998-2000), and never made the higher echelons of the Nielsen ratings.
But I really love this show. As is usually the case, one of the reasons it’s so good is its cast. While Robert Guillaume was well-known thanks to such shows as Benson, Sports Night was my first exposure to some outstanding actors who are now more familiar in other roles. Peter Krause, for example, who had great success on Six Feet Under. Felicity Huffman, enjoying a long run on Desperate Housewives. And Josh Malina, who had a great part on The West Wing.
But the real reason to watch Sports Night was the writing, done by one of my favorites, Aaron Sorkin. He based the series in a fictional sports network, which was very smart. Unfortunately, by naming the series Sports Night, he inadvertently signaled to women that this was a show for guys. In reality, it was a funny and poignant series about friendships, and romance, and work, and appealed to both sexes equally. But as I used to mention it to female friends, most had never watched it – because the name put them off.
As of this writing, many of the episodes are available (in two or three parts) on YouTube. I’m going to link to one of my favorites, “Eli’s Coming.” If you enjoy it, another you’re sure to like is “Dear Louise” (Season 1, Episode 7).