the Buzz for November 3rd, 2008


I’ve been lapping up, and with great nostalgic affection, the staggeringly fine new eight-disc DVD collection containing all forty-five marvelous episodes of Aaron Sorkin’s prematurely canceled (and woefully underappreciated) initial foray into television, ABC’s “Sports Night.” (A more extensive Buzz post regarding same is forthcoming.)

However things shake out tomorrow, we sit as a nation on the cusp of a milestone. In roughly twenty-four hours, either way, history will have been made. Given that, the following exchange from “Sports Night’s” thirty-fifth episode (broadcast in January 2000) grabbed my ear. (What you need to know, just in case you never saw the show: the series takes place behind the scenes at an ESPN-style news program called “Sports Night”; in this episode, “SN” has been approached by Michael Jordan’s representatives for an interview promoting Jordan’s new fragrance line; Dana (portrayed by the blisteringly brilliant Felicity Huffman) is the show-within-the-show’s executive producer, and Isaac (Robert Guillaume, a gravitas-infused blue million miles away from “Benson”) is its managing editor.)

ISAAC: Dana, listen to this. This is fantastic.  [reading from a magazine] “Bioengineering might one day create living creatures adapted to survival in space.”

DANA: Okay.

ISAAC: Space birds!

DANA: Okay

ISAAC: Don’t you want to know how they’re gonna fly without air?

DANA: Oh… kay.

ISAAC: It says here they’re gonna fly on sunlight.

DANA: So, we got this Michael Jordan offer—

ISAAC: —and farther out where the sunlight grows weaker, they’re gonna bioengineer a squid.

DANA: A squid?

ISAAC: Yes! Swimming not in water, but in space! [reading]  “Drawing volatile fuels from jovian moons to power their gentle but efficient propulsion systems.”

DANA: Uh, Michael Jordan—

ISAAC:“Their utility could be comparable to that of horses and mules in the winning of the West.”

DANA: Okay—

ISAAC: I can see myself out there, sitting alone by the fire, a space squid my only companion!

DANA: Isaac—

ISAAC: Michael Jordan.

DANA: Yes.

ISAAC: They want to talk about cologne.

DANA: In the press kit, they accidentally included coaching notes for Michael on how to bring the interview back to the cologne.


DANA: Yeah. Do we book the interview?

ISAAC: Absolutely.

DANA: Isaac—

ISAAC: Absolutely!

DANA: And talk about perfume?

ISAAC: Cologne!

DANA: There’s no difference!

ISAAC: Michael’s Michael. Let him talk about what he wants.

DANA: You really want to use “Sports Night” for a five-minute infomercial?

ISAAC: With Michael? Sure!

DANA: Isaac—

ISAAC: You know, just ten years ago, it would have been hard to imagine a black man selling cologne.

DANA: Eight year olds are buying aftershave, Isaac. I’m not sure it’s a huge step forward.

ISAAC: I’ll take any step forward.

DANA: [sighs and rises to leave] Okay.

ISAAC: Dana?

DANA: Yeah?

ISAAC: They’re talking about bioengineering animals and terraforming Mars. When I started reporting Gemini missions, just watching a Titan rocket lift off was a sight to see. Now they’re gonna colonize… the solar system.

DANA: Are you obsessing about this?


DANA: Why?

ISAAC: Because I won’t be alive to see it.

See y’all at the polls, ladies and germs.