Customer Reviews: Sports Night: The Complete Series 10th Anniversary Edition
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on July 1, 2008
I of course cannot comment on the actual box set, since there is little information provided by Amazon on disc details at time of writing (early July 2008).

However, this was one of my favorite shows when it was on in the late 90's (I cannot believe it's been 10 years already!!!). And, it is still in my top 5 of all time to this day.

Why? Well, for one thing, just look what some of the key people involved have gone on to do after making Sports Night: The West Wing (Creator/Writer/Producer Aaron Sorkin, actor Josh Malina, plus guest spots by many SportsNight regulars), Six Feet Under (Peter Krause), Desperate Housewives (Felicity Huffman). For each of these pros, 'Sports Night' was a key launchpad for the rest of their careers.

(And, of course, the already well-respected Robert Guillaume was a key member of the cast. He suffered a debilitating stroke mid-production and still gave bravura perfomances on his return.)

This show is one of the rarest of TV gems: a comedy that does not pander, that challenges you to keep up. Anyone who regularly watched the first few seasons of 'The West Wing' will recognize one of Sorkin's favorite devices, the fast-talking, no-pauses, walking-down-the-hallway conversation. This device is not to everyone's taste, but it's a great one for the right actors and writers, and a certain species of TV viewer.

And yet, the show rewards even casual viewers with witty, incisive, insightful commentary and critique of just about everything. It's just plain funny most of the time.

The tagline was "It's about sports. The way Charlie's Angels was about law enforcement". And that about sums it up. Its focus is on human relationships in that most volatile environment, the workplace.

This workplace just happens to be an even more of a pressure-cooker than most: a TV studio producing live sports news shows. Think 'ESPN SportsCenter'. Yet, it's not supposed to actually be SportsCenter, since they wisely wink to reality and refer to "Bristol" (the actual city where ESPN is headquartered) as their competition. I always thought this was a clever device, since ESPN is a sister company to ABC, the network 'Sports Night' ran on. Eveyone else (Fox, CNN, et al) has tried to beat ESPN at its own game, and lost, and 'Sports Night' keeps that feeling of being a decided underdog.

Though the stakes aren't as high for the rest of the world, the pressure of the environment to the people in it (and therefore by extension to the viewer) is much like Sorkin's 'West Wing' -- not as many dramatic world crises, but still plenty of "must react NOW!!!" raw material that Sorkin and team mine for sublime comic effect.

Yes, it's funny, very funny in fact. But what appealed to me most is that quite often Sports Night could be poignant, even at times dramatic. Again, not the faux-gavitas that most sitcoms try to attain with that corny, "a very special episode of...", ripe-for-satire phoniness. When there is deep human emotion to be felt, the show portrays it in just the right quantities. Breakups, lost career opportunities, even some of the ficitious "real world" storylines have just that much more feeling of real human emotion than do just about any other TV comedy, or even many TV dramas. Most of that reality is due to the characters being portrayed as fleshed-out human beings, at least as much as can be done in a 30-minute TV format. They aren't exactly true to life, but they aren't just cardboard cut-outs either. An excellent example is how Robert Guillaume's real-life stroke, and subsequent return to the show, was handled onscreen: brilliantly, of course.

In the end, if you are like me, you will love Sports Night mainly for the charcaters themselves. I really came to like them, a lot. I wanted to know more about them. Even the guest spots were intriguing, like Felicity Huffman's real-life husband, William H. Macy, as a show "fixer". That's why the cancellation was so painful for so many. I had to wait another five years for another TV comedy that could rival it -- 'Arrested Development', another cult fav that was killed too early. I think if a show like 'Sports Night' was pitched today, it would probably find a comfy home on cable, and live for many seasons. However, it was at least five years ahead of its time for that. And network TV is notorious for handling quality shows badly.

If you watched it while it was on, this box set is a great chance to relive its greatness. If you never had the pleasure, please take the opportunity now to explore something very special.
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on February 4, 2009
I absolutely love love love this show. I followed it while it was on the air (even though I was in junior high school) and I purchased the original DVD release when it came out. I fell in love with it again and my wife lost her Sorkin virginity. When I heard that a new anniversary edition was coming out, and from Shout Factory, I got excited. Shout Factory did a great job with the Freaks and Geeks set, so I had high expectations. I sold my old set and pre-ordered this new one. When we went to watch it we discovered that unlike the previous bare-bones release, this one does not have subtitles. I have no idea why the definitive collection of a work would choose to omit this standard feature. I cannot recommend the series highly enough, but I am disappointed by the lack of subtitles.
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on March 23, 2009
I had bought the original box set several years ago. While the show is one of the best ever, and still holds up over time, the earlier DVD set was not worthy. There were no features, there were no commentaries. It was just the episodes, nothing extra. Admittedly, it was an improvement over the videos I'd recorded when the show was rebroadcast on Comedy Central in 2001, but....

Then I loaned the set to someone, and they never returned it (wise of them, foolish of me). This loss was a blessing in disguise, because it gave me an excuse to buy this anniversary edition. What am upgrade!

Seriously, this is one of my favorite possessions; I might need to buy a second set in case i wear this one out. get it, watch it, rewatch it a few times until you catch all the jokes and witty asides.
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on September 5, 2008
Writer/creator Aaron Sorkin and director Thomas Schlamme went on to develop NBC's "The West Wing" during the second season of this wonderful series.

From the beginning, ABC had no clue of how to handle this show. First, they insisted that the producers ad a laugh track, because you don't know when to laugh. Then, they started to promote it like a soap opera, because it had serious issues to deal with at times.

Ultimately, the quality of the show came through. A fabulous cast provided excellent performances. Josh Charles ("A Few Good Men", "SWAT") and Sabrina Lloyd ("Sliders") are the MVPs here, consistently giving the show it's heart. Peter Krause ("Six Feet Under", "Dirty Sexy Money"), initially stiff in his "on air" role as Casey McCall, settled in well mid-first season.

The real gem here is Robert Guilamme ("Benson"), his Issac Jaffe is an excellent character brought to life with his gentle touch. Guilamme's real-life stroke was written into the series, and when he returned in the second season made for some wonderful moments and sly dialogue delivered by the veteran actor.

Unfortunately, try though they may, Shout! Factory has been unable to provide the option of killing the laugh track in the set. Fortunately, they have provided a great new set which beats the original cheap, no-frills set that Disney provided several years ago.
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on September 18, 2008
If you liked "West Wing," you'll like Sports Night (even if you don't like sports). The fatal mistake in the development of Sports Night was probably the title of the series. The best thing about it was also, for some people, probably a weakness: it's not a drama, not a comedy. It doesn't fit any customary category. A typical half-hour espisode is a drama that makes you laugh for 20 minutes because the people in the drama love to make one another laugh (and you laugh with them). And then, in the last 5-10 minutes, it will nail some truth about human beings in a way that will probably bring tears to your eyes. Quite a lot to draw from an insider look at the production of a television program (a program that happens to be about sports). If you never saw Sports Night, you're in for a very special experience.
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on July 7, 2008
This show said more about the human condition -- and said it with more compassion, verve and style -- than any television show before or since.

Aaron Sorkin's depiction of these facile, funny, earnest people sent tingles and gasps, giggles and tears through my body every Wednesday night. Never a sports fan until this show, I found myself feeling more alive when exposed to these characters, these people of good conscience doing their best to create something of value. There was none of the formulaic cynicism that mass media generally affords us. In its place was a genuine revelling in the human condition, faith in the basic goodness of we wonderfully flawed mortals, and more wit than television has ever seen.

I am so grateful it was on the air.

And now, there's this new set, which (according to the press release) includes the following:

"2 discs of exclusive bonus features that reveal the genesis, life and afterlife of the series with all-new interviews, behind-the-scenes featurettes, gag reels, deleted scenes, and commentaries featuring the principal cast and creative team."

The one bonus the press release specifically notes is, "Real vs. Reel: ESPN employees compare their real-life experiences with the characters on Sports Night."

A 10th Anniversary book is also part of the package.
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on July 10, 2008
I was the first one to buy the barebones dvd set that was released a couple years ago. That boxset will now be going to one of the many friends who has borrowed it over the years. Thankfully we finally get a feature filled release of this great show. The features look interesting, especially the comments from the real Sports Center anchors.

As for the show, it is just great. The acting is well above what you see on most television shows (especially at the time). Of course Robert Guillaume (Benson) is great. Several of the actors have gone off to make their name on other shows, highlighted by Peter Krause and Felicity Huffman. I am waiting for Josh Charles to get his big break. His character Dan Rydell, was easily my favorite on the show.

The writing is excellent. Aaron Sorkin certainly lives up to his reputation here. The dialog is fast paced and enjoyable. It can get repetitive at times, but it never bothered me. I love the rhythm that the characters use to talk to each other. Especially Dan and Casey. Although the show is funny, it is more a "dromedy" more then a "sit-com". The show bounces between serious issues and comedy usually quite naturally. There were a couple of story lines that I could have lived without, but overall the episodes are engaging, humorous, and very well done. Sports Night is a great show. I highly recommend it.
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on November 7, 2013
I'm a big fan of Aaron Sorkin, so this show was a must-have. It's clearly a precursor to the West Wing, both in terms of the cast, and in terms of the pacing, which is a bit uneven in places. However, the characters really grow on you. I'm not a sports person, but this show is only tangentially about sports, and it actually made me appreciate some of the reasons people do like sports. Robert Guillame is great in this, too, and the way they handled his stroke and made it part of the show was really inspiring.
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on January 10, 2014
Sports Night had the deck stacked against it. It was on against established hit shows and it's name implied it was just another sports show. The truth is, it was the best show no one watched. Everyone I've shown the DVD's cannot believe the show was cancelled. We regularly have SN marathons and laugh through episode after episode. Many great lines from this show have become part of our regular lexicon. This collection is a treasure.
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on September 18, 2008
What has been said thusfar about Sport Night, its intelligence, its innovations and effects on the future of the sitcom are all true. It was an amazing show, one that stood so far out in the pack of shows in that season that you just knew that it was going to be cancelled. The story arc where Josh Charles' character was forced to apologize for remarks he made regarding drug use - brilliant. Just one of many examples that could be sited. Though I was sad to see this show go, in retrospect where would we be without Peter Krausse in Six Feet Under or the promising Dirty Sexy Money or Felicity Huffman's amazing Career. And I wonder if Sabrina Lloyd would have found the time for her work with Hal Hartley. What we are left with is an incredibly tight 2 season set with a beautiful singular vision and execution comparable in quality if not subject matter with Lynch's Twin Peaks. Just like that show, its end was inevitable and beautiful.
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