If you're considering purchasing the set, I definitely recommend it. The special features, while there aren't a huge amount of them, are all pretty cool. Also, if you like listening to episode commentaries, they chose some really great episodes to do commentary on. More of my thoughts are under the cut.
I forgot how much a love Sports Night. It was so smart and so funny and so ahead of its time. I love that it's not your classic TV sitcom. Aaron Sorkin's fast-paced dialogue is perfect for a series set behind the scenes of a sports show. Sorkin does a great job with those behind-the-scenes/show-within-a-show stories. And you can't forget about director Tommy Schlamme who is able to take Sorkin's writing translate it so perfectly on screen. I was also really impressed with Robert Berlinger, who directs quite a few of the episodes. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think he directs Weeds now. The only thing that bothers me about Sports Night is the laugh track they used in the first season. It is incredibly distracting. In almost all the interviews and commentaries with Aaron and Tommy they discuss how much they hated it. It's such a relief when the laugh track finally disappears toward the end of the first season.
The Cast and Characters:
Casting is such a crucial part of a TV series in my opinion. I mean, if you miscast one person, it can cause a major problem. Luckily, Sports Night is just perfectly cast.
I have to admit that I'm not a fan of Felicity Huffman on Desperate Housewives, but I am a fan of Felicity Huffman in general. She is great as Dana...a perfect mix of strength and vulnerability. Dana reminds me a lot of CJ on The West Wing. They have many similarities.
Robert Guillaume. How can you not think he's amazing? I remember when he had his stroke in the middle of Season One and I thought, 'What are they going to do now?' It was necessary but also really smart to write the stroke into the series. And Guillaume came back to the show after the stroke better than ever. What a classy guy.
Peter Krause and Josh Charles developed a great friendship in real life I've heard, and it really translates on screen. Dan and Casey are fun characters. I'm a little partial to Dan, though, and I'm not entirely sure why. I think it's because his character seems to run a little deeper than Casey's. He's got issues with the death of his brother, problems with his love life and some unaddressed jealousy of Casey's popularity. No wonder he needs a shrink.
Sabrina Lloyd is adorable as Natalie. I have to be honest, Natalie reminds me a little bit of myself which is probably why I like her so much. And Joshua Malina does such a great job making Jeremy into quite possibly the hugest dork on the planet (kinda like Will Bailey!). I like that the relationship between Natalie and Jeremy doesn't overtake the entire show. It exists, and you're aware of it, but it's not in your face all the time. It reminds me a lot of the Chandler/ Monica relationship on Friends. It added a lot of fun to the series, but it didn't distract from everything else going on on the show.
William H. Macy is, seriously, awesome in everything. His scene in the season two ep "Cliff Gardner" where he talks to the studio execs about Philo Farnsworth and making glass tubes is completely amazing.
Lisa Edelstein as Bobbi Bernstein -- she and Josh Charles have an interesting chemistry. And she is really believable as a female sports reporter. It's no wonder Aaron and Tommy used her again in West Wing. Come to think of it, she's pretty believable as a hooker -- I mean, call girl -- too. ;-)
I can't not talk about Janel Moloney's guest spot. She really only had one scene in "The Six Southern Gentlemen of Tennessee" but she hits it out of the park. And she's just super cute even as she's chewing Casey out for being a jerk. Again, no wonder she got cast as Donna on West Wing. By the way, there is commentary on this episode that can't be missed!
Clark Gregg's appearance as The Stranger in the last couple of episodes is very interesting. I like how he and Felicity Huffman play off each other. He has some crazy sideburns, though. Yuck.
Oh, and last but certainly not least, is Teri Polo as Rebecca. She and Josh Charles are really good together. On a side note, has anyone seen the Law & Order: SVU episode they did together last season? They played husband and wife. The episode itself was pretty disturbing but they still have great chemistry. Anyway, the Rebecca character just helps ad another layer to Dan...you learn a lot more about Dan through his relationship with Rebecca. I would have liked to have seen more of Teri Polo in Sports Night.
The Season One bonus disc has a great segment featuring the cast and crew. It's basically a look back at the series as a whole from its inception to its cancellation. It's really good.
There is also a comparison of CSC's Sports Night to ESPN's SportsCenter that interviews Sports Nights' real life counterparts at ESPN. You'll probably think it's really cool if you watch a lot of sports programming, but I don't so I didn't find it that interesting.
I always love gag reels -- actors are people too, and yes, they mess up sometimes! The Season One gag reel was actually put together for the season finale cast party, so it is pretty long and really funny!
The special feature I liked the most was from the Season Two bonus disc. There is a lengthy interview with Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme. They talk about, well, pretty much everything related to Sports Night. I love it because you can tell, even today, they are really good friends. They genuinely like each other and respect each other's work. It's nice to see that. It's probably why all three of their television collaborations have been so great. They work well together and it becomes obvious when you see the final product.
There is also a feature on Season Two that deals with all the creative/technical aspects of making the show. It's really pretty interesting and film editor Janet Ashikaga is interviewed (she won an Emmy for the episode "Small Town").
The gag reel for Season Two is not quite as long as the Season One gag reel, but there are still some pretty funny outtakes. Josh Malina makes some hilarious facial expressions.
There are eight episode commentaries on what are probably the eight best episodes of the series. They are completely worth listening to even if it's just to hear Aaron and Tommy and the cast joke around with each other. I always wonder what happened behind the scenes of certain episodes and these commentaries give you a good picture of what was going on at the time the eps were filmed. The episodes with commentary are:
Pilot (with Tommy Schlamme and Aaron Sorkin)
The Six Southern Gentlemen of Tennessee (with Josh Charles, Peter Krause, Sabrina Lloyd and director Robert Berlinger)
Small Town (with Janet Ashikaga who won an Emmy for editing this episode)
Sally (with the supporting cast -- Greg Baker, Kayla Blake, Timothy Davis-Reed, and Ron Ostrow). They are hilarious and they are laughing the entire time. It's important to note that Timothy Davis-Reed went on to play the reporter Mark on The West Wing.
Eli's Coming (with Peter Krause and directory Robert Berlinger) This is maybe my favorite episode of the entire series.
Kafelnikov (with the supporting cast plus Josh Charles and Joshua Malina)
The Local Weather (with Josh Charles and Joshua Malina)
Quo Vadimus (with Aaron and Tommy) Probably my second favorite episode.