Monday, July 21, 2003

Dan(a) and Casey

When the world went from LP to CD I was just starting at Cheapo (Yes! I'm that old!). I never imagined in my wildest dreams (and believe you me I've had some pretty wild dreams!) that things could change so quickly. I was under the impression, and I don't think I was all that alone (though I often am!) that we'd all keep our fine record collections and supplement them with the new technology. Yet when I bought my first CD player the first discs I got were replacements- Mahler's Ninth Symphony and the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night. Like many others I wasn't buying new stuff I was already buying stuff to supplant some of my favorite LPs.

Remember I was a Betamax owner who reluctantly had to come to the realization that this was a VHS world. When I bought my second home computer a few years ago it came with a DVD player. It was my first exposure to yet another emerging technology. I think I was one of the first to sign up for Netflix, the internet movie rental service that mails out DVDs that you can keep for as long as you want. Still it was mighty difficult for me to watch full length motion pictures seated at my desk in front of a computer monitor. Thus last Christmas when my Dad bought me a DVD player that I could hook up to my living room TV it made watching movies on that format a whole lot easier.

One thing I have learned however is that technology isn't always about bringing us into a Matrix like future. It can also be about bringing back into your life something you never thought you'd see again. I have found one of the greatest things about the advent of the DVD is that many of my favorite less than popular TV series are out there for the having. I've already bought the first four seasons of Buffy, have ordered a collection of Red Dwarf episodes, have thought about getting all the Yes Minister series, and have just received my collection of Sports Night a great great show.

I'll admit I was a reluctant fan. One of my favorite mother's of two early on in the show's existence recommended I watch it. I unfortunately didn't pay attention (it was on ABC for God's sake!) until summer repeats and then became forever hooked. The show is unlike any half hour sitcom I'd ever seen (with the possible exception of Slap Maxwell) where it wasn't about creating interesting characters and putting them in wacky situations. It was more about quirky writing and creating engrossing half hour mini-dramas that were chockfull of rich humor and insight.

Written by The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin, Sports Night is far superior to that later more popular series. While TheWest Wing suffers from the inherent pretentiousness of its setting Sports Night only used its fictional cable sports network as a place of employment for all its three dimensional complex characters.

So as I'm making way through the all too short two seasons of the series I'm reminded of my original amazement at the originality and creativity of the show. I fell in love again with Dana (Felicity Huffman) the sport show's fiery red headed neurotic producer. I love the dignity of Isaac (Robert Guillame who sadly suffered a stroke during the first season) and the quiet sadness of co-anchor Dan (Josh Charles). It was fun in this past season of The West Wing that Sorkin replaced Rob Lowe with Joshua Malina who played Sport Night's Jeremy the nerdy idealistic sensitive researcher. And that on Ed (the show that precedes The West Wing Wednesday night on NBC's must see TV schedule) Jeremy's girlfriend Natalie (Sabrina Lloyd) played Ed's girlfriend, Frankie, the one who drove him back to Carol.

For those out there who believe that by its very nature commercial television can be dismissed because of the inherent limitations of the medium I would suggest watching an episode or two of Sports Night. In its all too short run it was never far from being the ultimate accomplishment- a note perfect TV series. It was rich and clever and thankfully now eternally lives on burned onto little discs of aluminum for anyone to collect and see.

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