Tag Archives: 90’s

Some Early Sorkin

24 Dec

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I am festing “Sports Night.”

…It is my first night off for the Holiday, we start tech for “Arcadia” on Monday, which is, (coincidentally), when Corporate takes up residence in my office lobby again for a week, and top brass shows up the next. Just in time for Opening.

…I’m saying: this is the last breath before I suffocate under a mountain of stress, but even knowing that…I’m cool. Cuz I’m sipping on Christmas whiskey (as in ” a present” not “vintage” or “flavor”), and am watching one of my favorite writers, with a newly favorite cast, hinting at shadows of what is to come in all our futures.

I’ve always loved Sorkin, but it’s been a complicated relationship. Like many of his characters, he is an elitest, Ivy-League-educated, smarmy, asshole. But I can’t help liking him. Cuz talent is fucking sexy.

…Just so happens,  I have read and seen his plays, his master television works are quotable yearly fested go-tos,”American President” is one of the first of five DVDs I ever owned, and I have had countless conversations on character trait shares and cross indexing ‘tween all his works.

…’Cept this one.

…Because his Freshman effort is the last I have seen, and only, which I don’t own. Which is strange, and inexcusable, but “fact.” I know that whether I like sports or not, I would still be intrigued, cuz: it’s his. But for whatever reason, it has stayed an illusive missing piece, until my newly anointed Theatre Hubby and I got talking the other day (as we constantly do) and I mentioned my egregious error.

…So, he’s fixed it.

…I am blazing through his complete collection copy, like a house on fire…acknowledging the nods which will be addressed in Sorkin’s latter works, enjoying his spin this round on his particular formulas…and (possibly due to the math and patterns of “Arcadia”), really picking up on the specific algorithms of his life’s writing…like a thesis. You see how “this” character here, would later inspire “that”…his ever evolving ensemble troop of actors, is already well mixed and (though younger), well seasoned. The themes he will continue to deal with, the moments of contrast he will continue to play with, the dude-chick in upper-middle management power, the surly but lovable asshole…the liberal-with-a-cause, the unrequited love angle, the massive missunderstandings and false suspecting. The witty, nerdy, sexy, neurotic. The lion-hearted patriarch. It’s all there…even from the beginning.

…Which blows my mind…because even in its infancy, this was a cut above all the rest. Even the death of the unfortunate (but period-consistent) live audience laughter, was put to rest, well before say, M*A*S*H’s was. Because this wasn’t a comedic sitcom. It was not…even in the 90’s king of comedy years of “Frasier,” “Friends,” “Seinfeld” and the rest…to be labeled as such. This was “theatre”… on television. And it seems that once they “got” that…all worked in it’s smooth, undulating, quirky way.

…Which is why it keeps getting canceled as well…because it doesn’t fit the “box demographic.” Sorkin requires you to listen, participate, and think. These are not (sadly) the things a television audience wants to do at the end of the day. They want to be “entertained.” And because Sorkin is a playwright, who makes film and television, his audience base is unfortunately the people who can’t tune in and up the ratings. Cuz we’re busy creating our own, on show days.

…So when we HAVE time, we fest. We feed, like thirsty vampires, on his creative blood.

…And it is delicious. And heartbreaking.

…Because we cannot seem to keep his work solvent and Prime Time , alone anymore. Which is a giant fucking shame. Because his gifts from politics to art to humanity to romance, are fucking brilliant. He’s that guy I’d love to antagonistically fight with and make love to, for like eternity. And in this: I am not alone.

…But the point is: to KNOW his work so intimately, yet be introduced to it’s beginnings at the end, it like a timewarp in evolution of art and politics of our time. He was so forward-thinking, yet so constructively challenging. He knew what we needed, but not how we’d get there. He built archetypes not within boxes, but hovering just outside them, and like Tennessee Williams, has spent his career perfecting the through-line of imperfection, within these archetypes.

…But, in the beginning it was different. It was younger, fresher, less “loaded” with bogged down realworld, shit.

…Which is almost heartbreaking. Because nearly every episode begins with an establishing shot of two buildings in New York, which we had always (until now) taken for granted.

My God, how much has changed for all of us, since then…

…Anyway, this is all to say, “Thanks, Bernard, for the brain and emo toys.”

Love,

That Hannah Chick.

~D

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