The next Aaron Sorkin show
I really love Aaron Sorkin’s TV shows. Sports Night had snappy banter, a great cast, and an excellent balance between humor and drama. The laugh track for the first 1/2 of the first season is really creepy and out of place, leading me to believe that ABC didn’t know what to make of this show. Sports Night only lasted two years because of this (the eventual purchaser of the fictional television show said, “Anybody who can’t make money off of Sports Night should get out of the money-making business.”). Well, that and because TV audiences are incredibly dumb (Two and a Half Men has been on for five years, really!). The West Wing was all about the drama, bringing one of the greatest ensemble casts ever to television. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip had some issues. First, the fictional show wasn’t very funny (additional writers would have been needed to fix this), too many romances at once (Matt/Harriet, Jordan/Danny, Lucy/Tom), and that it focused too much on Matt/Harriet’s romance (far less interesting when compared to the network stuff going on with Lou Grant and Brian Hackett). But even with this issues, the show had great potential and Sorkin and co. were finally figuring out the right buttons to push as the series neared what would be its end.
As a disclaimer, I should state that I have little knowledge of the television industry, Aaron Sorkin’s plans, or stuff along those lines. I know Aaron Sorkin is currently pushing for a film script to get made, but that’s it. These are merely some ideas I had about a premise that I would love to see.
Summary: A small-market sports franchise front office struggles to outsmart their league rivals while ownership tries to cut payroll. The town is hungry for a winner, with this franchise having had a very respectable history. New hires are made with a couple industry outsiders, long-time baseball scouts, and probably an ex-player.
Cast: The GM will probably played by either a young “hotshot” guy or a kickass older dude like Philip Baker Hall. The main two or three characters will be similar to the stars of Sorkin’s past few shows in age and personality. Joshua Malina will of course be in it (as the stats guy – obviously!). There will probably be an olderish female head of marketing or press. Among the hires will be a young female scout (or consultant or something) – she will be controversial and will inevitably fall in love with someone. The owner will be a general sort of bad guy executive, though he will have a right-hand man who is kickass and convinces the owner to be kickass on occasion. The owner and the right-hand man will have disparate ages. There could be some fun player (coaches, managers, too) cameos with mock interviews. These cameos could help be facilitated by the network, which we will get to later.
Plot(s): The plots here are limitless. There are countless ones to be stolen from the annals of sports history. Draft day will be unbelievable. Sports drafts are exciting on their own, but infuse quality direction and snappy dialog, Sorkin could make some seriously compelling television. Maybe ownership wants to move the franchise. Maybe a player tests positive for steroids. Heck, maybe the owner turns out to be a Nazi. In any case, almost all plot lines will be off the field.
Production: First off, the network. The antenna networks seem impatient with Sorkin’s work and their audiences are generally fickle and stupid. I think cable would be a good call. HBO or FX might be good, but I think the ESPN audience would eat up a show about a front office. This would be a huge investment for the network, but I think the regular ESPN audience would be captivated and it would bring casual or even non-sports fans to ESPN, which ESPN seems to want to do. They did good work with The Bronx is Burning from the few episodes of the mini-series I’ve seen. They would probably need to be wiling to give Sorkin a lot of freedom with the series and a decent budget in order to get him to work on a cable series. Maybe even a couple guaranteed years to ensure Sorkin that he won’t get cut short like he did with Sports Night and Studio 60. ESPN would also have an easier time getting sports personalities (heck, they could easily shoot mock SportsCenter segments), players, and perhaps using some real team and league names. In case it wasn’t implied already, the franchise itself will have to be entirely fictional and the other major teams involved in the plot would probably need to be fictional as well.
I’m not quite sure what sport would be best for this. Baseball and basketball are probably the best two choices, as football doesn’t really have any exciting trades or much in-season front office decisions. Basketball would probably make it easier to shoot the necessary sports scenes (there will be some after all) as there is a small playing field, fewer players, and generally has more easily repeatable actions, though digital effects could make baseball scenes easier.
Someone needs to make this happen.
Arbitrary song of the day: Joy Division – “Love Will Tear Us Apart”