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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: "Sports Night: The Complete Series" (with screenshots)



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#1 of 76 Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 30 2002 - 09:41 AM

Posted Image

Sports Night
The Complete Series







Studio: Buena Vista
Year: 1998
Rated: NR
Film Length: 1260 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)
Subtitles: English



Let's get this out of the way. I don't watch
sports and I generally do not enjoy shows about
sports -- but send me an entire television series
on DVD for free and I'll review anything.

Posted Image

With that out of the way, let me firmly state
that I was quite surprised by this television series
created by Aaron Sorkin, who serves as the show's
principal writer. This show does for Sports News
as what Larry Sanders did for talk shows -- and
it's no wonder -- Thomas Schlamme, who directed
episodes of The Larry Sanders Show contributes to
this series bringing with him his experience with
unconventional TV comedies about TV.

Posted Image

The show takes place behind the scenes of a cable
program that greatly resembles ESPN's SportsCenter.
The lead characters are the co-hosts of the fictional
Sports Night: Casey McCall (Peter Krause) and
an junior anchor Dan Rydell (Josh Charles). Casey is
in love with producer Dana Whitaker (Felicity Huffman),
who is the most remarkable presence on this show.
Robert Guillaume is his usual feisty self as the
show's executive producer, Isaac.

Posted ImagePosted Image


The show offers a humorous, and often engaging view
of intelligent, human and witty career professionals
working in a high-pressure environment. Every week
characters are confronted with challenges to their
professional and personal integrity. The banter
flows out of the actors mouths in a rat-a-tat rhythm
that ultimately puts a smile on your face as you
soak it all in. Though this isn't a show filled
with rapid-fire jokes, there are plenty of moments
that merit a chuckle.

Posted ImagePosted Image


Sadly, despite huge critical acclaim, Sports Night
failed to attract the mass audience ABC were seeking.
The show was abruptly cancelled after only two seasons.

Posted ImagePosted Image


Sports Night arrives in a 6-disc set that
contains all 45 episodes from the first and
second season, including the show's original
pilot. Each show runs about 22 minutes. I was
surprised that Buena Vista decided to skimp a
little on this set, putting a total 6 discs in
3 standard cases. The shows are presented without
any sort of chapter stop breakdowns. In addition,
other than the fact that brief episode descriptions
appear on the back of each case, there's really
no descriptive program guide here that lists guest
stars or air dates.


How is the transfer?


Presented in its original 1.33:1 broadcast ratio,
the picture looks very clear and detailed. The
only problem I found was that there was a little
too much redness exhibited in the facial tones
from time to time. Otherwise, the transfer
probably looks somewhat better than what you would
see on cable or satellite television.

The Dolby Digital surround track is very effective
in that the show's music is evenly distributed across
the front and rear channels with dialogue remaining
firmly in the center. You never quite know where
the next laugh is going to come from as these tracks
get thrown randomly into either the center or rear
channels. Otherwise, sound is very clean and strong
with no noticeable background hiss.


Special Features


Surprisingly, there are none.


Final Thoughts

Posted Image

I learned something very valuable here today.
You don't have to know a damn thing about sports
to enjoy Sports Night. With its more-universal
subject matter, this show actually gives you a
little something to chew on. I am happy I had the
chance to view something original like this.


Release Date: November 5, 2002

Ronald J Epstein
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#2 of 76 Wes C

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Posted October 30 2002 - 10:22 AM

This short lived sitcom is one of my favorite of all-time. Thanks for the review Ron and even more thanks to Buena Vista. I'll be picking this one up first thing November 5th.

#3 of 76 Matt Stone

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Posted October 30 2002 - 10:29 AM

Same here...I can't wait until my copy ships!
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#4 of 76 Nathan_W

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Posted October 30 2002 - 10:42 AM

Quote:
This short lived sitcom is one of my favorite of all-time. Thanks for the review Ron and even more thanks to Buena Vista. I'll be picking this one up first thing November 5th.


Yep, same here! Posted Image You read my mind...
I want Ed on DVD/Blu-ray!

#5 of 76 Scott_J

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Posted October 30 2002 - 10:51 AM

When this show first premiered, I didn't watch it because I assumed it was going to be a 30 minute infomercial for SportsCenter, in the form of a sitcom. Then a few weeks into season 1, I caught an episode, and boy was I wrong. I was hooked from the first episode I saw. Great show. Can't wait to get my copy of it, which shipped today BTW. Posted Image

#6 of 76 Matthew Chmiel

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Posted October 30 2002 - 12:06 PM

IIRC, Ron said there are 45 episodes on the set, but weren't only 42 episodes shown on ABC? Did Comedy Central air episodes 43-45 or will episodes 43-45 be first seen on this DVD set?

#7 of 76 Scott_J

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Posted October 30 2002 - 12:57 PM

Matt, according to Comedy Central's episode guide (http://www.comedycen....ht/sn_episode/), there were 45 episodes. As far as how many episodes ABC aired, I don't know.

BTW anyone who has not seen the show and is getting the DVD, do NOT read CC's episode guide, as it contains major spoilers for the episodes.

#8 of 76 ThomasC

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Posted October 30 2002 - 02:34 PM

Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

thank you so much for reviewing this, ron! i had no idea this was coming out until now, so as soon as i get enough money, sports night is mine! Posted Image thanks again!

#9 of 76 Dave Scarpa

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Posted October 30 2002 - 02:41 PM

I watched Afew eps of this and thought it OK, I really Hate ESPN's Brand of Sportscasting so maybe that's why I Was turned off by it.
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#10 of 76 Scott_J

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Posted October 30 2002 - 03:30 PM

{off-topic nostalgia)
Quote:
Do it Rockapella!!!
That brings back memories from my childhood. "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" Good show. Then they went and changed it to "Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?" and that was what killed the show IMO. Love the theme song (I actually have it downloaded on my computer :B).
(/off-topic nostalgia)

#11 of 76 Vince Maskeeper

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Posted October 30 2002 - 03:36 PM

So does the DVD feature the laugh track version, or the original without the laugh track? Can you select?

-V
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#12 of 76 Wes C

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Posted October 30 2002 - 04:30 PM

From what I understand the laugh tracks are there, and you can unfortunately not turn them off. Buena Vista just slapped the episodes on to 6 DVD's and shipped it out. But I am not going to complain, I cant believe they even did that.

#13 of 76 Craig S

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Posted October 31 2002 - 01:36 AM

Quote:
So does the DVD feature the laugh track version, or the original without the laugh track? Can you select?
Wasn't the first season broadcast with laugh track, and the second season without? I seem to remember reading somewhere that the DVDs would reflect the broadcast format in this regard.

Ron, can you check this??

Three truths about movies, as noted by Roger Ebert:

 

* It's not what a movie is about, it's how it is about it.

* No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is short enough.

* No good movie is depressing, all bad movies are depressing.


#14 of 76 ThomasC

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Posted October 31 2002 - 02:32 AM

most, if not all, of the shows in the second season did not have the laugh track, so if buena vista stuck them on, i'll be really ticked. i'm not sure how many shows in the first season had it, but i don't think they did it for the entire season.

#15 of 76 Michael St. Clair

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Posted October 31 2002 - 07:14 AM

I was told many months ago by a genuine insider that the laugh track issue was raised, but discarded by the powers that be due to 'expense'.

So what we have is basically the NTSC broadcast master.

I'm disappointed, as the creators did not want the laugh track from the beginning, but I'll be picking up this set.

#16 of 76 Adam_S

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Posted October 31 2002 - 07:44 AM

just a quick question on the packaging, are the 'standard cases' double alphas or slim double amarays? thanks, can't wait to get this set, great show Posted Image

Adam
 

#17 of 76 Runar_R

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Posted October 31 2002 - 10:46 AM

I have had this pre-ordered for a couple of months now. I can't wait to get my hands on it. I want Sorkin to write the dialogue to my life!Posted Image

[During a bomb scare.]
Casey McCall: Is there anyone who can say anything that will make us feel like the smart thing to do is to stay in this building right now?
Dana Whitaker: In ten minutes, three and a half million people will tune in to watch the two of you on television. Many of them will be women.
Casey McCall: ...All right.

Posted Image Posted Image
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I put up with all the other crap just to get seconds like this.
The moments when you know the world is a better place than advertised."
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#18 of 76 Bryan Farris

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Posted October 31 2002 - 11:50 AM

Quote:
IIRC, Ron said there are 45 episodes on the set, but weren't only 42 episodes shown on ABC?


All 45 episodes were shown on ABC. At one point, there was talk of junking the last 3 episodes, but they eventually did get on the air. (At least in some places. During one week, our ABC station decided to run a news program instead. And since the network never re-ran episodes, I didn't catch it until the Comedy Central run.)

I kinda wish there'd have been more extras, given Sorkin's West Wing success and Krause's 6 Ft. Under success. That said, I'm still looking forward to replacing my increasingly worn VHS tapes.

#19 of 76 Aryn Leroux

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Posted November 01 2002 - 03:27 AM

Glad to see someone put up a review for this. This series deserves all the exposure it can get. I wouldn't hesitate to call this one of the best shows of the last 20 years Posted Image To bad it only lasted a couple of seasons. I look forward to receiving my set next week.

#20 of 76 KevA

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Posted November 01 2002 - 03:44 AM

I'm a big fan of this show as well and I'll be picking this DVD set up as soon as it comes out.

However, I never did see the final few episodes. Can someone who did please indicate (without giving away the details of what happened) if they managed to wrap things up, story-wise? Or, did the show just end without forewarning, not giving the writers the chance to wrap things up?

It will be great seeing the final episodes for the first time on DVD; however, it will be disappointing if the series just ended abruptly in the middle of "continuing" storylines, etc.

Kev A.