Sunday, February 27, 2005


The opposite of simulblogging the Oscars

I'm not watching the Oscars. "You're broadcasting, but I can't see or hear you." I'm blogging, after the Oscars are over, about something not the Oscars.

Tonight, I watched the final episode of Sports Night, Aaron Sorkin's brilliant half-hour comedy-drama that was cancelled after two short seasons. This concludes a few months of Sorkin-dominated DVD-viewing, consisting of three seasons of West Wing followed by Sports Night.

Here are a couple of quirky Sorkinisms that one notices after several weeks of audio-visual entertainment in which more than half consists of Sorkin. When I say these things, please put it in the context that I think he's the most brilliant TV-show-creator ever.

1. He has some thing about sex workers who are really highly-educated "nice girls." (The "call girl" who goes to Georgetown Law School by day and dates Rob Lowe in the first season of West Wing; the Julliard-trained "adult film actress" who dates Jeremy towards the end of Sports Night.)

2. He likes the name "Danny." (Daniel Rydell, Sports Night. Daniel McCaffey, the lead character in A Few Good Men.)

3. He milks a lot of laughs out of the same opeing dialogue formula, in which one character obsesses about something, riffing on it four to six times, while the other person finds various ways to say "I don't care."

4. Have you ever noticed how everyone is so witty in Aaron Sorkin's world? If you just saw the words, and didn't see or hear the actors saying them, it would be pretty clear that the characters all talk like the same person. Maybe a lot of playwrights write like this.

5. Aaron Sorkin desparately wants to be down with the brothers. Mawkish moments are uncharacteristic of him, and seem to crop up only when a white guy in his story wins acceptance or approval from a black guy. It was sort of teeth-grinding to watch Isaac Jaffe, the head honcho at Sports Night, who is black, lovingly reassure Jeremy Goodwin that the latter is not a racist. (My partner B infers that Jeremy, the adorable nerd played by Joshua Malina who is not only not a racist, but who also dates the porn star, is Sorkin's alter ego.) The very worst moments of Sorkin's A Few Good Men come when Tom Cruise, with a cloying barf-worthy smile, banters hiply with the black man who runs the newstand.

Speaking of Robert Guillaume, who plays Isaac Jaffe on Sports Night, one of the coolest things about that series is that, after the 73-year-old Guillaume suffered a stroke in real-life, Sorkin wrote that into the show, and after missing some epidsodes, Guillaume/Jaffee returned to his role, post-stroke symptoms and all. It was incredibly moving. I wonder whether the stroke kept Guillaume off of West Wing, a show that features a number of former Sports Nighters. Guillaume, as you may know, had already risen from butler at the governor's mansion to Lieutenant Governor on the long-running sitcom Benson, and from there became Managing Director of Sports Night. With those qualifications, he'd have made a great Attorney General. I'm happy to report that Guillaume, now 78, is still working hard, with two movie roles in production.

Anyway, I now have two choices. Watch the first three seasons of West Wing again,* or else read some books.

* If you care, I've made a decision not to jump ahead and watch the current season of West Wing, and I've been too lazy to try to pick up the reruns at the beginning of the fourth season. I'm waiting for the DVD to come out...


New Project Bozzo format

Marginal Utility has been finding ways to link to my blog "organically," that is, with actual blog text for which the links make some sense. He's got more class than I do.

Bozzo bozzo bozzo bozzo bozzo bozzo bozzo bozzo bozzo bozzo

Oscar, if you are pining for more Sorkin and random West Wing cast memebers, I recommend that you rent "The American President", in which you will see some familiar faces at the White House, but not in their West Wing positions (for example, Martin Sheen is the Chief of Staff to Michael Douglas' President).
I didn't know that Sports Night is now on DVD. When it aired on TV, I was a devoted fan. It is one of those rare series where one gets attached to all of the characters. It's been a few years, but I'm still mad that the show was cancelled.
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