The perfect Christmas gift for people who like TV, just not what's on TV: Sports Night DVD Collection
The perfect Christmas gift for people who like TV, just not what's on TV: Sports Night DVD Collection

TV or not DVD

Four signs the show you're watching is among The Greatest Series in the History of Television: It's an ensemble comedy that often resembles a drama and airs without a laugh track; the series' creator gives interviews in which he/she congratulates the network for having the guts to air the edgy and/or groundbreaking show, but also expresses concern that the network has no idea how to sell it to a disinterested public obsessed with reality programming; it debuts on a Tuesday and ends up airing on Wednesday, then Friday, then Monday before being put on indefinite hiatus before being axed entirely with unaired episodes in the can; and/or it airs on HBO and isn't named Arli$$ or The Mind of the Married Man. Oh, and after the show gets canceled, some die-hard fans post stories and scripts ("fan fiction," ugh) from imaginary seasons, because they can't let go; hey, man, those weren't characters, they were friends.

Such was ABC's Sports Night, Aaron Sorkin's pre-West Wing series about the backstage doings at a would-be ESPN; it starred, among others, Six Feet Under's Peter Krause, Josh Charles, Robert Guillaume (pre- and post-stroke), and it was so good it lasted but 45 episodes, or fewer than two seasons. But thankfully, Sports Night--like another beloved ABC-axed show, Once and Again--will last forever, now that Buena Vista Home Entertainment has made the complete series run available in a six-DVD package. But 'tis a blue valentine: Watching the final episode, about a multinational that buys the network and keeps the show, was a bittersweet exercise in wishful thinking; Sorkin knew the show was ending but insisted on going out with the survivor's grin. Too bad the packaging comes with no extras--no essays or documentaries or even actor bios. All it comes with are six DVDs (fine, good enough)...and a piece of paper pushing the new Push, Nevada, which ABC already canceled.


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