Monday, October 16, 2006

Sucker for Sorkin

I admit it. Put some fast-walking, fast-talking braniacs in front of me and I'm a happy girl. I adored "Sports Night" and liked "West Wing" very much (during the Aaron Sorkin era), and am now enjoying "60 Rock." They're all pretty much the same show -- it's striking how he can create the same sense of world-shaking urgency over a late-night skit or a cricket match on the other side of the world as a national security breach -- and they all have three things we don't see much of on television:

1. The characters speak in witty dialogue that assumes some intelligence from the audience as well as a familiarity with esoteric arcana that is all, somehow, of equal interest and value, whether relating to pop culture or Pericles.

2. The characters are messy and complicated and -- here is something you almost never see on television -- they are kind. Isaac's speech to Jeremy about having found a home at "Sports Night" is one of my favorite television or movie moments ever.*

3. The stories are messy and complicated, too. Sorkin doesn't feel like he has to explain everything. He leaves some of it up to us to figure out or imagine.

Oh, and add in a understated guest bit in this week's episode from Lauren ("Gilmore Girls") Graham and Sting singing "Fields of Gold" and you might just hear me purr.


Not fitting in is how qualified people lose jobs.


Yeah, but a lot of time it's how people end up working here. You had an obligation to tell us how you felt. Partly because I don't like getting a phone call saying I've put one of my people in the hospital. But mostly because when you feel that strongly about something you have a responsibility to try and change my mind. Jeremy, did you think I was gonna fire you 'cause you made a convincing argument? It's taken me a lot of years but I've come around to this: If you're dumb, surround yourself with smart people. If you're smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you. I'm an awfully smart man and Mark Sabath is an idiot. He had you and he blew it. You've gotta trust us. Fit in on your own time, when you come to
work for me you show up to play.

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