“He rode his bicycle into a tree, C.J. What do you want me to say? The President, while riding his bicycle, came to a sudden, arboreal stop.”
“Now yes, sure, indeed, I can tell you what Ewing and Oakley are shooting from the field, and I can tell you that you’re not gonna stop John Starks if he squares up to the basket, and put any defensive pressure on Charlie Ward he’s gonna
fold like a cheap card table. But if you’re asking me for genuinely sophisticated analysis, and I sense that you are, you gotta give me some time. At least 20 minutes.”
“I don’t want you to get me a girl, A.J.! What is this, Vegas? … No sir, this is the White House.”
“We get this done right now, or I mean it, Kaffee, I’m going to hang your boy from a fuckin’ yardarm! … Yardarm? Sherby, does the Navy still hang people from Yardarms?”
With one swift stroke of the pen, one well-delivered line, he hooked me each and every time I watched something he wrote. He wrote the kind of line that makes me want to watch more, because it proved his characters are just as smart, just as witty, just as sarcastic as I always hoped and dreamed I could be. And Aaron Sorkin is back.
Ever since I watched A Few Good Men for the first time (at an age when I probably shouldn’t have been watching A Few Good Men), Sorkin hooked me with the style, wit and quickness of the dialogue he wrote. I had no idea who Aaron Sorkin was, nor did I even know that he wrote the movie I was watching, but I loved it all the same.
I’ve never been much of a movie buff, but I knew enough that when I saw American President for the first time, I could connect the name of the writer of that movie with the writer of A Few Good Men, which had easily become one of my favorite films.
When I discovered that my new favorite screen
writer had also created two television shows, I couldn’t stay away. The West Wing, which ran for seven seasons, and Sports Night, which only ran for two, were Sorkin at his best. The dialogue makes those two shows great, and despite their varied success, they have much in common.
When I heard that HBO had signed Sorkin on to write another show, I was immediately intrigued. The Newsroom looked like it would be much the same as his two previous shows — workplace dramas, but so much more. I couldn’t wait to see if Sorkin could pull off yet another excellent show.
As I started watching the first episode of The Newsroom, I got nervous. The witty dialogue was still there, but something was missing — I disliked all of the characters. I had yet to find my Josh Lyman, my Dan Rydell or my Casey McCall. I was worried.
But Sorkin wowed me once again. I won’t spoil the first episode, but for those who have experienced a newsroom of any sort, once the news hits, everything else takes a back seat. The same is true for The Newsroom — once the news hit, nothing else mattered. And with one line (for those who have seen the first episode, it was “Wait. Seriously though, I have a blog?”), I was hooked again.
I idolize Sorkin, or more accurately Sorkin’s characters, because they’re smart and they know it. Because they are one seemingly flippant, yet utterly brilliant comment away from turning a conversation on its head and sending a dialectic foe reeling. I haven’t quite picked out which character will be Sorkin’s most quick-witted in The Newsroom, but I know he or she will be there and I can’t wait to see it.
Sorkin has had varied success in television. The West Wing was highly acclaimed by critics and was popular enough to last for seven seasons. But Sports Night, which was just as witty and clever, lasted only two seasons and was nearly doomed from the start. But Sorkin keeps doing what he knows how to do, which is make smart, funny and dramatic television. As The Newsroom character Charlie Skinner says, “I’m too old to be governed by fear of dumb people.”
We can only hope that Sorkin takes his own advice, and keeps doing what he’s always done well.
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