Sports Night: Complete Series Tenth Anniversary Edition

As creator and writer Aaron Sorkin notes in a retrospective featurette, if Sports Night were on TV today, it wouldn’t seem that notable. In 1998 to ’99 however, there weren’t any hybrid comedy/drama half-hour shows that combined single camera and multi-camera shooting styles, encompassed a single working set (they shot the show about a show with a real TV studio as a set) or (after a long network fight) without a laugh track. Like many pioneers, it fought a losing battle for viewers and succumbed after only two seasons, collected once again on DVD, this time with some perspective. What was then one of Hollywood’s hottest scripts (along with Sorkin’s other show, The West Wing) attracted a great cast (Desperate Housewives’ Felicity Huffman, Six Feet Under’s Peter Krause, Benson’s Robert Guillaume, In Treatment’s Josh Charles). With scripts that ran pages and pages longer than a typical 22-minute sitcom, Sports Night debuted a Sorkin signature early on: smart people walking and talking quickly through a busy workplace. It gives this show a crackling energy and a remarkably different look than almost any other sitcom around, as outlined in new featurette "Inside the Locker Room.” A comparison to ESPN’s real-life Sports Center reveals just how much of the frantic tone the show got right, while Sorkin and series director Thomas Schlamme reminisce about just what an uphill battle it was to convince network suits that anything they wanted was actually a good, workable idea: no in-studio audience, no laugh track, no traditional "sitcom” set, an unusual writing style that bypassed the set-up/punch line structure of sitcom writing, and a vision for the show as more than a vehicle for cheap comedy. Within the first handful of episodes, Sorkin tackled casual marijuana use, homelessness, sexism in the workplace, the absurdity of sports culture and the day-to-day joys and frustrations of loving to do a difficult job. Schlamme, Sorkin and the cast clearly all loved doing this difficult job. That it’s only later found the cult audience it richly deserved is a shame but we’ll always have these two full seasons, which are more than many quality efforts get in our more trigger-happy, test-audience times. Plus: gag reel, select commentaries. (Shout! Factory)