Shoe Money Tonight! aka Why You Should Watch Sports Night

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Welcome back! As promised, I will be talking about the television show Sports Night. One of Aaron Sorkin’s first forays into television. It was one of my first taste of Aaron Sorkin’s writing. This show will forever be part of my ‘Forever Favorites’ list. It only lasted two seasons, and many people seem to have forgotten the show, but I’m here to give you three reasons to try it out or come back to re-watch.

For people who do not know, Sports Night is about the behind the scenes drama that comes with producing, writing and starring in a late-night sports news and recap show. It follows the producer, Dana as she wrangles the staff, which includes Jeremy, Natalie and the anchors/writers of the show Dan and Casey.  She answers to Isaac, who deals with the network brass (he is also the best character ever).

Why should you watch? Read on to find out!

The Characters

The characters are what make the show so much fun to watch. Each character has a particular place in the show. Without them there the show just would not work.  They are all puzzle pieces that fit together in a fun quirky way. Each piece needs each other to survive. That could be said for all of Aaron Sorkin’s characters. They need each other to work well together. They have viewpoints but can be persuaded to change their minds.

These characters are flawed. They can make you want to throw them against the wall sometimes. However, you are still with them as an audience. You want them to grow and succeed against the network, against J.J. (the most annoying character ever) and their old ideas.

The Quotable Quotes

Much like most of Aaron Sorkin’s work, there is some great dialogue. Things that you will be quoting long after you see the show.  The characters do have those famous long speeches, but they were never without merit. The one character that gave the best speeches were Isaac and Dan. They were emotional, straight to the point and made us understand a character’s mindset on a situation or topic of conversation. Sometimes it is funny and sometimes incredibly serious and true. Even today a lot of the topics talked about are still issues we deal with. Here are a few of my favorite quotes.

“So, don’t adjust that dial; and while we’re gone, if any talking animals ask you to buy some tacos or beer-for God’s sake, do what they tell you…” – Casey McCall

“Shoe money tonight!” – Dana Whitaker

Look, I got into this because I like getting people to like sports. And I’ve turned into a PR man for punks and thugs. And any atrocity, no matter how ridiculous, or hideous, or childish, it doesn’t matter. I make it sports. Ten-cent bagman whacks a skater’s leg with a crowbar, that’s sports. Second round draft pick gets cranky in a Houston bar, and that’s sports. And let’s not forget the mother of all great sports stories – a double homicide in Brentwood.” – Casey McCall

My favorite speech comes from Isaac and the episode The Six Southern Gentlemen of Tennessee.   The episode covers six football players refused to play under the Confederate flag that flies in the stadium.

“Exaudio, comperio, conloquor. That’s a Latin phrase that translates “To listen, to learn, to speak.” Those words are carved into the stone arches that form the entrance to the undergraduate library at Tennessee Western University. This afternoon, an extraordinary young man named Roland Shepard made what had to have been an excruciating decision. He said he wasn’t playing football under a Confederate flag. Six of his teammates then chose not to let Shepard stand alone. And I choose to join them at this moment. In the history of the South, there’s much to celebrate. And that flag is a desecration of all of it. It’s a banner of hatred and separation. It’s a banner of ignorance and violence and a war that pitted brother against brother, and to ask young black men and women, young Jewish men and women, Asians, Native Americans, to ask Americans to walk beneath its shadow is a humiliation of irreducible proportions. And we all know it. Tennessee Western has produced some outstanding alumni in the past hundred years. People of wisdom and vision. Strength and compassion. One of them is Luther Sachs. Luther Sachs owns Continental Corp. Which owns the Continental Sports Channel, which you’re watching right now. Luther Sachs is a generous alumni contributor to Tennessee Western, with a considerable influence over its chancellor, Davis Blake, and its board of trustees. Luther, you’ve got a phone call to make. You’ve go to call Chancellor Blake, and tell him to take down that flag, or he can stop looking for your checks in the mail. You’ve got to put these young men back in a classroom. And I mean pronto. These boys are gonna make you proud one day, Luther. I challenge you to do the right thing. Not an unreasonable request to make of a man whose alma mater declares, “Exaudio, comperio, conloquor.” “To listen, to learn, to speak.” In the meantime, God go with you, Roland Shepard, and you six Southern gentlemen of Tennessee. God’s not done with any of you, yet.”

The Issues Covered

With that speech, the show includes many issues. You could look at this as a warm up for The West Wing and even The Newsroom. This show goes through different topics like sexual assault, domestic violence, divorce, racism, drug use, suicide, illness just to name a few. Some of it relates to sports, and some of the topics affect the main characters. Either way, the issues are talked about in a natural way, and the characters do not shy away from different opinions on a topic. The issues are not usually solved in the half hour, but there was a healthy debate.  A lot of debates that are still important in 2016.

The actual downside of the show? It has a laugh track. Some idiot somewhere decided this show needed a laugh track/real audience. This show doesn’t need help. It isn’t an average sitcom. It was much more than that.

This show is great and ended way too soon and on a cliffhanger! Not cool ABC. Not cool to let the show fall like that (Goes for you too Aaron Sorkin. He was so busy with The West Wing he let Sports Night fall apart).  I still think it is worth watching and enjoying for these reasons and many more.

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You can watch the whole series on Hulu, and it is available on DVD in a nice collectible set. It is filled with commentaries, specials, and deleted scenes. It is pretty awesome.

So, what do you think? Will you give Sports Night a try? Tell me below!

Until next time, the randomness has ended. Hope you enjoyed!

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