sports night

Speaking of great Aaron Sorkin TV shows, Entertainment Weekly has a great article about Sorkin’s first show, a 30 minute short-live comedy entitled Sports Night.

Set in the high-stakes world of a live sports news program, the Aaron Sorkin-scribed dramedy followed the behind-the-scenes exploits of fictional “Sports Night” coanchors Casey (Peter Krause) and Dan (Josh Charles), their brilliant producer Dana (Felicity Huffman), harried associate producer Natalie (Sabrina Lloyd), gruff executive Isaac (Robert Guillaume), and whip-smart researcher Jeremy (Josh Malina).

The series was less about sports and more about the interactions of the characters who hosted and ran the fictional Sports Center-like show. It featured Sorkin’s trademark quick and witty dialogue, with a ton of Capra-esque optimism about the world. While it only lasted two seasons (one with a horrible laugh track), it is, in my opinion, one of the best comedies ever made. I watch both seasons at least once a year. Read the entire article. It’s great.

history of the west wing

The West Wing is one of my all time favorite shows. Every 1-2 years, usually between Thanksgiving and New Years, I will re-watch the entire series. With the exception of a few episodes (OK, maybe an entire season) it is one of the most consistently good dramas in recent history. Empire Magazine put together a complete history of the show, from creation (cleverly entitled The Campaign) it its end (Leaving Office). If you are a fan of The West Wing, you really need to check it out.

This performance was from a couple of weeks ago. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch it. It’s pretty awesome (as are all their performances). They cover everything from The Simpsons, to Dragnet to Game of Thrones. I wonder how long it takes to choreograph something like this.

Today is the 25th anniversary of the airing of the first episode of Saved by the Bell (not Good Morning, Miss Bliss). In honor of this momentous occasion, I present to you a post I wrote in 2008.

saved by the bellThe world is a large and frightening place filled with many bad things: Global warming, terrorism, racism, health issues, drugs, poverty, etc. You should not be afraid though. I can help you. The answer to all your fears is four simple little words: Saved by the Bell.

Yes, if everyone in the world watched this show the world would be a much better place. Just think about it for a second. SBTB addresses every major concern that plagues this world. Let’s examine how SBTB could help make the world a better place. The gang, consisting of Zack, Kelly, Lisa, Slater, Jessie, Screech, and for half a season, Tori, faced all these harsh world realities and survived. Let’s see how.

SBTB and the Environment
SBTB was thinking green long before it was the in thing to do. Thanks to Jessica Spano, the resident over achiever and environmental activist, we become aware of the major environmental concerns that plague the world. Whether she’s saving the whales, suggesting alternatives to styrofoam cups, or preventing Bayside High from becoming an oil field, Ms. Spano is a great crusader in the cause for Mother Earth. In fact, it is in episode number 45 “Pipe Dreams” that we learn how destructive drilling for oil can actually be. The gang’s beloved science class pets were all killed in the pond after oil spilled. Oil drilling is dangerous and we should be looking for alternatives to build a better future. As the gang states, we need to look for alternative energy so ducks like Becky don’t die anymore. If only we would have listened to SBTB back in 1991. Also check out the episode “Skip Day” for the harsh reality of styrofoam cups. They are not biodegradable and are ruing the planet. Thank you Jessie and Graham.

SBTB and Terrorism
SBTB was dealing with terrorism long before 9/11. Way back in 1989 the gang at Bayside High had to deal with those nasty terrorist from Valley. Stan and Dan Clegg wreak havoc on the halls of Bayside when they start the annual Prank War. Just as Bush responded to 9/11 attacks, Zack and Slater respond and kidnap Valley’s mascot, then the Bayside Tiger (Screech) is kidnapped. Of course, Bush attacked the wrong country whereas the gang at Bayside actually did target the right school. Of course, the lesson we can all learn from this whole mess is that if we all come together and talk at the end, like both schools and their respected principals do, we can live in a peaceful place and settle our differences. We just have to talk, and as we see in “The Wicked Stepbrother” we cannot negotiate with terrorists. If we do, they’ll take everything we have, including that awesome ball we caught at the Dodgers game.

SBTB and Racism
Bayside High was not the most diverse school. In fact, we barely even know that Lisa Turtle is African-American and Slater is Hispanic. Race was never brought up on the show, until the kids expanded their horizons and went off to college. When Slater finally realizes he has a Hispanic background he becomes interested. He learns about his Chicano background there are confrontations between him and Zack. Slater didn’t believe Zack was respecting his heritage. In the end, they worked things out and the race issues disappeared! Again, we just need to come together and talk and we will all get along! Respect each other’s differences, backgrounds, heritages and we can come together as people and live in harmony. If Zack and Slater can do it, we all can.

SBTB and Health Issues
SBTB didn’t deal with health that often. The kids never got sick in sunny California. However, there were a couple of episodes that did pop up that dealt with health. In the episode “From Nurse to Worse” we see macho man Slater afraid to get a flue shot. He cons Zack into taking it for him, but he learns his lesson at the end. Missing your shots is no laughing matter. If you want to stay strong and healthy, you must take care of yourself. If somehow you do wind up in the hospital, have no fear, because you will get the best healthcare possible, just ask Zack in “Operation Zack” when he has to go under the knife. He didn’t have to sign countless insurance forms and fill out tons of paperwork, he got in, got fixed, and left. Even the homeless guy in “Home for Christmas” received health care when he passed out in the mall.

SBTB and Drugs
Two of SBTB’s most famous episodes deal with drugs. If the world could watch these episodes and see how bad drugs really are, then no one would use them. In the “No Hope with Dope” episode, we see how drugs ruin a lot of lives. Not only is the image of their hero Johnny Dakota shattered when he starts smoking pot, but we learn about other people who have had their lives ruined by drugs, like John Belushi and another student’s older brother (who she has to drive to the beach now because he got high and drove and had an accident). The message is, drugs ruin a lot of lives. We also get reminded of Jessie’s stint with drugs, which brings us to the other episode that deals with drugs, “Jessie’s Song.” In this episode Jessie was addicted to caffeine pills, letting the world know that over the counter drugs can be bad for you too. Jessie screams at the end, mixed with the lyrics of her girl band, Hot Sundae, that she’s “so excited. So excited. So scared,” reminding us that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. If we all could see what Jessie went through in that episode, none of us would ever use drugs.

SBTB and Poverty
Poverty is a huge problem in the world today. If we could all just watch the episodes “Home for Christmas” we would see how big a problem poverty is. One of the biggest problems with poverty is people aren’t aware of it. SBTB made us aware. It showed us that homeless people aren’t lazy drunks, but out of work computer programmers with hot daughters who just need a break in life. If we all pitch in, like Zack’s family does, we can help eradicate the homeless problem in our country, and the world. Just open up your doors and let the homeless in, and if you can, give them a job like Zack’s dad does. With a little awareness and a little help, there will be no poverty or homelessness. Let all the out of work programmers into your home… and your heart.

Saved by the Bell doesn’t stop there though. No, those were just some of the major problems that are addressed in the episodes. There are smaller problems that we see solved, such as heartbreak (Kelly dumping Zack for the college creepy guy Jeff), drinking and driving, natural disaster readiness (the earthquake episode), sexism (the episode when a woman wants to wrestle), and many other important life lessons. Thank you Saved by the Bell. We will continue to learn from your greatness for years and years to come.

This is hilarious… and makes me feel old. Also, is it just me or are the clothes that these kids are wearing just as bad, if not worse, than the styles in the ’90s?