Watching this after watching The West Wing and Studio 60 is a bit strange, so many of the ideas Aaron Sorkin plays with in Sports Night are developed further in his later series. In some ways it’s disappointing because ge re-uses a lot – plots, dialogue, even names; but it’s sort of fun to see the consistency.
The format is very strange, it’s the same blend of comedy and drama as the later series, but because it’s only 22 minutes per episode the drama feels a lot more rushed and not really earned. I’d frequently be just getting into an episode when suddenly it’s the credits alreayd. The chemistry and casting is great, except when they again have to accelerate things and it feels too rushed.
The direction and production is very strange. There are some examples of the later smoothness (and the classic walk-n-talks) but there’s some really horrible handheld stuff that’s just really jarring and unpleasant. The laughter track is possibly the most depressing thing though, it’s scary just how many of the jokes and background humour don’t get any laughs at all.