Monday, September 9, 2013

A Career Retrospective: Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin is one of the best, most iconic living writers we have. He’s one of the few screenwriters that many know by name, and, more importantly, by content. Say what you will about Sorkin’s deliberate style, when you watch a Sorkin show, you know you’re watching a Sorkin show. The snap-crackle-pop dialogue, the walk and talk, the blend of comedy and humor, the intellect – I’m certainly an admirer of his work, but I’m also the first to admit that his career has been far from perfect.

Below are brief thoughts on each piece of material Sorkin has written for the big and small screen. For the films, my grades are solely based on the strength of Sorkin’s script. For his TV shows, my grade is based on the overall power of the show, all aspects included. Enjoy!

A Few Good Men (1992)
Best not to mince words here: the screenplay for A Few Good Men is one of the best American scripts ever penned. It’s intelligent, relentlessly paced, stealthily funny, and just, well, perfect. Based in part on Sorkin’s sister’s experiences with the U.S. Navy JAG Corps, Sorkin initially used the material to craft a successful stage play. He was soon approached to adapt his play into a script, which resulted in a unique work of art.

Sorkin tells a funny story about writing the script for A Few Good Men. Basically, he had no idea what he was doing. He was so concerned with how to properly format the script, that he lost sight of the story he was trying to (re)tell. Someone at the studio told him to forget the formatting and just stick to writing. My point is, people lose sight of the fact that A Few Good Men was Sorkin’s first produced screenplay. That’s a massive achievement in and of itself. A+

Memorable Quote: “That’s a relief! I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to use the liar, liar, pants-on-fire defense.” – Lt. Daniel Kaffee

Malice, co-written with Scott Frank (1993)
Malice is a psychosexual thriller about an earnest college dean (Bill Pullman) his caring wife (Nicole Kidman) and the devious doctor (Alec Baldwin) who comes between them. Sorkin’s script (with help from impressive screenwriter Scott Frank), makes for a pretty solid domestic suspense flick, in a decade where there were hundreds of them. Kidman’s transformation from a babe in the woods to Lady Macbeth is rather satisfying, while Baldwin chews malevolently on every one of Sorkin’s words. B

Memorable Quote: “If you’re looking for God, he was in operating room number two on November 17, and he doesn’t like to be second guessed. You ask me if I have a God complex. Let me tell you something: I am God.” – Dr. Jed Hill

The American President (1995)
If you lived in America in the late ‘90s-early 2000s, chances were that, one any given night, you could turn on the television and catch Rob Reiner’s The American President. This movie was a staple of cable TV, thanks much in part to Sorkin’s playful banter, delivered to excellence by Michael Douglas and Annette Bening. And here’s the thing: even to this day, The American President doesn’t feel old. I never tire of it, and I have seen it more times than I care to say.

The American President gives equal attention to the Douglas/Bening relationship, Bening’s job as a lobbyist, and the impending Presidential election. One of my biggest critiques of Sorkin’s writing (which is mostly applied to his later TV work) is that he constantly jungles too many stories in an attempt to hold our attention. At first glance, The American President comes close to offering too much. But thankfully, Sorkin found the precise balance of politics and romance to tell a ceaselessly entertaining story. A-

Memorable Quote: “We had a nice couple a minutes together. She threatened me, I patronized her. We didn’t have anything to eat but I thought there was a connection.” – President Andrew Shepherd

The Rock (1996) (uncredited dialogue puncher-upper)
Many people (including Quentin Tarantino) were unofficially credited as unofficially punching up the script for The Rock, so it’s impossible to know for certain which lines of dialogue came from Sorkin’s hand. The Rock is a fine action film, but part of its success should be credited to how damn funny it is, namely the back-and-forth conversational wit throughout. The banter between Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery is priceless, while John Spencer’s tactical venom is as engaging as Ed Harris’ vengeance. There’s a good chance The Rock may be remembered as Michael Bay’s best film. Sorkin’s efforts certainly don’t make that a coincidence. B+

Memorable Quote: “You broke out down the incinerator chute, on the mine car, through the tunnels to the power plant, under the steam engine – that was really cool by the way – and into the cistern through the intake pipe. But how, in the name of Zeus’ BUTTHOLE did you get out of your cell?” – Stanley Goodspeed

Bulworth (1998) (uncredited dialogue puncher-upper)
I like to think that Aaron Sorkin helped punch up all of Warren Beatty’s lines in Bulworth. Maybe Beatty was a tad too old to nail the hilariously un-PC, politically ghetto cadence he desired from his title character, so he brought Sorkin on to make his words fly. Again, I have no way of knowing if this is true, but Jay Bulworth sure does sound an awful lot like an Aaron Sorkin character. B-

Memorable Quote: “You know, there’s a lesson here, which is never try to make life or death decisions when you’re feeling suicidal.” – Sen. Jay Bulworth

Sports Night (1998–2000)
Sports Night ran for two seasons and told the behind the scenes narrative of a SportsCenter-like show. All the makings of classic Sorkin are here: the rat-a-tat-tat dialogue, the extended walk and talk shots, sarcasm, tears, office romance, heartbreak – everything worked, until it didn’t.

Much of the second season of Sports Night aired at the same time as the first season of The West Wing (which played on NBC). The West Wing was an immediate, massive success, which caused irrevocable harm to Sorkin’s attention to Sports Night. Granted, that wasn’t the only reason Sports Night was cancelled (Sorkin’s constant battle with the network over their decision to add a horrendously unnecessary laugh track to the show never helped matters), but whatever the cause, Sports Night deserved to live longer than it did. A-

Memorable Quote: “Bob Shoemaker was telling me about the nobility and tradition of hunting and how it related to the native American Indians. And I nodded and I said that was interesting while I was thinking about what a load of crap it was. Hunting was part of Indian culture. It was food and it was clothes and it was shelter. They sang and danced and offered prayers to the gods for a successful hunt so that they could survive just one more unimaginably brutal winter. The things they had to kill held the highest place of respect for them, and to kill for fun was a sin. And they knew the gods wouldn’t be so generous next time. What we did wasn’t food and it wasn’t shelter and it sure wasn’t sports!” - Jeremy Goodwin

The West Wing (1999–2006)
Up until last month, I had never watched a single episode of The West Wing. Once I noticed the entire show was available on Netflix Instant, I thought Ah what the hell, I have 156 hours to spare, so I gave the show a go, and was marveled by much of what I saw. The show is an insider’s perspective on the daily functions of a presidency. In chronicling Jed Bartlet’s reign as leader of the free world, Sorkin created his most vast landscape yet. A massive setting that included dozens of endearing and memorable characters, plentiful engaging storylines, and hundreds of gentle moments of emotional intensity.

For me, much of The West Wing rolled by at an embarrassingly fast rate. As soon as one episode was finished, I was compelled to start another. Much of this can be credited to the show’s uncanny ability to end a season at peak dramatic tension. Which is why it was upsetting when the show began to fall.

Rather famously, Sorkin and his producing partner/director Thomas Schlamme, left The West Wing after Season 4, and boy can you tell. Season 5 was, for the most part, an utter disaster. The quick banter was gone, the acting was stifled, the plot lines were boring – but once Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda were set up as the new Presidential candidates in Season 6, show runner John Wells got things back on track, to a degree. Although much of the charm of The West Wing was lost when Sorkin left, it will forever be revered as one of television’s finest hours.

The Aaron Sorkin Years (Seasons 1-4): A
The John Wells Years (Season 5-7): B

Memorable Quote: “You think I think that an artist’s job is to speak the truth. An artist’s job is to captivate you for however long we’ve asked for your attention. If we stumble into truth, we got lucky, and I don’t get to decide what truth is.” – Tabatha Fortis

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (2006–2007)
I actually loved Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip when it first aired. It was Sports Night, but for a Saturday Night Live-type show. No laugh track, no distracted Sorkin – just solid acting, a compelling narrative, and witty humor, for 43 minutes a week.

And then everything went to shit.

NBC took a gamble in the fall of 2006 when it decided to air a dramedy about an SNL-type show (Studio 60) and a farce about an SNL-type show (30 Rock) simultaneously. In doing this, it’s as if NBC was setting up one of the shows to fail, which is exactly what happened. NBC cancelled Studio 60 while Sorkin was still filming episodes for its first season, and those subsequent episodes are regrettably awful. There’s no spark left in the actors, no charm in Sorkin’s words. It’s a sinking boat that knows it’s going to drown. When Studio 60 was at its peak, it was Sorkin at its best. But goddamn did this one go down hard. B

Memorable Quote: “I’ve been married twice before, and I’m a recovering cocaine addict. And I know that’s no woman’s dream of a man. Or of a father. Nonetheless I believe I’m falling in love with you. If you wanna run, I understand. But you better get a good head start because I’m coming for you.” – Danny Tripp

Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)
I had only seen this Mike Nichols film once before researching this post, and upon rewatching it, I’m sad to say I was as unfazed by it as I was the first time. Sure, Sorkin’s words soar at times (especially at the mouth of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was justly nominated for an Oscar for his role), but I couldn’t care less about the film’s overall story. It’s not nearly as compelling as it should be, and fails to hold my interest for any length of time. Any credit to the strength of its script belongs chiefly to Hoffman. C+

Memorable Quote: “For 24 years people have been trying to kill me! People who know how. Now do you think that’s because my dad was a Greek soda pop maker? Or do you think that’s because I’m an American spy? Go fuck yourself, you fucking child!” – Gust Avrakotos

The Social Network (2010)
I was tempted to let The Social Network speak for itself by filling this description with a handful of brilliant quotes featured in the film. Much has been said about the ingenuity of Sorkin’s Oscar-winning script, and David Fincher’s fearless direction of this film. I watched it again last night and was thrilled that it still holds up completely. It’s brisk, smart and crazy fun. As good as screenwriting gets. Period. A+

Memorable Quote: “I think if your clients want to sit on my shoulders and call themselves tall, they have the right to give it a try – but there’s no requirement that I enjoy sitting here listening to people lie. You have part of my attention, you have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing. Did I adequately answer your condescending question?” Mark Zuckerberg

Moneyball, co-written with Steven Zaillian (2011)
After Steven Soderbergh was fired as director of Moneyball, the studio hired Aaron Sorkin to write another draft of the script. For Bennett Miller’s film, he incorporated aspects of Sorkin’s script (namely much of the dialogue) and Steven Zaillian’s previously penned draft, crafting an immensely enjoyable baseball film.

Sure, I’ve always wondered how Soderbergh’s version would’ve turned out, but I have to give credit to Miller for picking up a faulty production, and carrying it with gusto. Bringing Sorkin on appears to have only helped the material. Much like the best of Sorkin’s work, I find that I can watch all or a part of Moneyball whenever I come across it. It just works. A-

Memorable Quote: “You get on base, we win. You don’t, we lose. And I hate losing. I hate it. I hate losing more than I even wanna win.” – Billy Beane

The Newsroom (2012-present)
The Newsroom has been called it all. From topical masterpiece to heavy handed train wreck, and certainly everything in between. It’s difficult for me to accurately assess the show as a whole, because I’ve always felt that its quality changes from episode to episode.

I was into the show when it first aired in June of last year. But after the Osama bin Laden episode, I tuned out. It was just too much. Too forced, too self-appreciative, too obvious. Before its second season began in July, I went back and watched the first season in its entirety, and have watched every episode of Season 2 that has aired. And the best way I can summarize my thoughts on The Newsroom is that, episode to episode (or really, scene to scene) it is inarguably hit or miss. Some storylines excel, while others are lame from the start. What the show gets right (Will McAvoy’s broadcasts, Mac McHale’s charm, Sloan Sabbith’s intelligence) nearly outweighs what it gets wrong.

In short, while The Newsroom doesn’t compare to the other television shows Sorikin has created, I suppose it’s a pleasing way to spend 60 minutes out of my week. C+

Memorable Quote: “There’s absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world. We’re 7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, 3rd in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined. Now, none of this is the fault of a 20-year-old college student. But you, nonetheless, are without a doubt a member of the worst period generation period ever period.” – Will McAvoy 

50 comments:

  1. I haven't seen any of the TV shows that Aaron Sorkin did though I have seen his work in films. So that's why The Rock remains Michael Bay's best film because of him and Quentin Tarantino among many others.

    I do like his work as a screenwriter. If I was to rank it... here's how it would go....

    1. The Social Network
    2. Bulworth
    3. A Few Good Men
    4. Moneyball
    5. The American President
    6. The Rock
    7. Malice
    8. Charlie Wilson's War (I kinda liked that film, especially any scene w/ Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams. Especially the former's monologue about what to do after the war.)

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    1. Nice rankings. I'd put A Few Good Men at number 2, and Bulworth a little farther down, but all in all, seems like we agree.

      Hoffman is definitely the best part about Charlie Wilson's War. The film fully works when he's on screen.

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    2. Hate to but in but I'm just curious if there is even such a thing as a bad Hoffman performance? I honestly can't think of a movie he's bad in (maybe the movie isn't great - case and point being this one - but he's always good).

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    3. If Philip Seymour Hoffman has given a bad performance, then I certainly haven't seen it.

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  2. Malice was one of my favorite films as a young, cable-reared kid. It ran on TNT/TBS constantly (along with Corrina Corrina and Sleeping with the Enemy, two other favorites) and provided a glimpse into a grown up world that, turns out, never existed. But, damn, the punchy dialogue and the convoluted-but-not-too-convoluted plot were intoxicating for an 8-year-old. I particularly loved the whisky swilling mom (Anne Bancroft) with the Degas sculpture. I remember referencing the "God complex" in regard to my elementary school art teacher.

    I haven't seen the film in years and only recently discovered that Sorkin was responsible for it. I'll have to revisit it soon.

    Otherwise, I'm not much of a Sorkin acolyte. The Social Network was my favorite film of '10 and I indulged in The Newsroom despite its obvious shortcomings. I saw a smattering of West Wing episodes years ago (ditto A Few Good Men) but never became a fan.

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    1. I can't imagine watching Malice on TV. It'd be like watching A Few Good Men on TV, all the best lines are dubbed for something laughably off. But still, pretty groovy little thriller.

      The West Wing was solid as hell for its first two season, then steadily declined from there. Season 5 was a total wash.

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  3. One other note: If you've never read the book, please do check out George Crile's Charlie Wilson's War. The film isn't a complete failure, but oy, did Hollywood suck the life out of that one. Fascinating story, stolid film.

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    1. Good, huh? I'll have to scope it out soon. Thanks for the recommendation.

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  4. Sloan is the best thing that happened in The Newsroom.. ever! She should get more screen time.. a lot more, I enjoy her more than Mac. And turns out I like Sorkin's work.. there are many things in this list I've watched and enjoyed.

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    1. Sloan has definitely been my favorite aspect of Season 2. I agree, she should be given vastly more screen time. This current season as a whole has just annoyed the shit out of me. The jumbled narrative (framing everything around the depositions) is just damn silly.

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  5. I've never really payed attention to Sorkin's work. This is the first time I've ever seen his body of work stack up against one another. I haven't seen all of them, but I'd have to say my favourite is Moneyball, followed by The Social Network (which I don't think is as great as what people say). Can't wait to seek out his movies now :) Thanks!

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    1. My pleasure!

      DEFINITELY seek out A Few Good Men if you haven't seen that one. Such a good movie, such a brilliant script. Close to be my favorite Sorkin screenplay.

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  6. The Rock?! Whaaaaaat?! Man, I really need to rewatch that film.

    I've only seen A Few Good Men and The Social Network properly and I LOOOVVEEE both of them. I had started The Newsroom but once again, it was *too* American for me and I stopped caring.

    I think I've written a lot about The Social Network. It really is one of the most perfect movies that I have seen and Sorkin's writing obviously is a huge reason for it. I would love to see Sorkin and Fincher tackle a proper courtroom drama in the future. With Sorkin's words and Fincher's gritty direction, I think it will be something.

    And I really adore A Few Good Men too. It was coming on TV the other day and I made my little brother watch the whole "You can't handle the truth" scene. So awesome.

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    1. The Rock is a rather perfect action film. And believe me, "perfect" is a word I don't use in regard to a Michael Bay film lightly. Ha.

      "Too American".... that may be a perfect way to describe The Newsroom. It's often just too... much.

      I'd LOVE for Sorkin and Fincher to work together again. A great pair.

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  7. Sorkin is one of my top five favorite writers of all time. Heck, he may be my favorite, but I haven't really thought it through!

    The West Wing is my second favorite TV show ever, second only to LOST, and I'm actually re-watching the series right now. I watched the show, from beginning to end, when it was on NBC. I really don't understand how I had a clue what was going on (I was 9 when it started), but I absolutely loved it then and still love it now. Bradley Whitford and Richard Schiff are so perfectly cast that it blows my mind.

    On top of that, The Social Network is probably my favorite movie of all time, and I have watched it bazillions of times. It just gets better and better with age! The writing, the score, the directing, the acting... everything is just fantastic.

    And (against popular opinion), I LOVE The Newsroom! Most people are liking season 2 better... I liked season 1 better. However, these last few episodes have been fantastic. Most people like Sloan... I can't stand her! Sam Waterston has done an incredible job this season, but Jeff Daniels has kind of faded into the background. I have a feeling he is going to blow our socks off next week, though. The whole thing is just genius, in my opinion.

    Alright... I'm done singing Sorkin-praises!

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    1. Love all the Sorkin praise here.

      Schiff and Whitford really were fantastic on that show. The acting was solid throughout. I LOVED John Amos' Admiral Fitzwallace - he slang Sorkin's speak flawlessly.

      I really want to like The Newsroom more, but I think it bogs itself down with too many storylines. For example, I've never cared about the Maggie/Jim/Don romance. But oh well, curious to see how the Election Night wraps up.

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  8. I haven't seen a lot of Sorkin's earlier work, which is a little embarrassing. I am enjoying The Newsroom this season more so than last, you're right about the Osama bin Laden episode feeling forced. That was probably the worse one they've done. The Social Network, however. Brilliant. He was the perfect writer for that.

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    1. It was that scene with Don on the plane. All the cuts to the plane captain's hat, wings, face... ugh, too much.

      The Social Network rocks! No doubt.

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  9. It seems like I have seen a lot of his work and I agree with most of you said. I like The Newsroom but it keeps getting on my nerves, especially when they they don't take themselves seriously and it's been happening a lot lately.

    Love TSN, Moneyball and, even though I never associated him with it, A Few Good Men. Even The Rock isn't that Sorkin-y but I like it too. Definitely Best Michael Bay film, by far.

    Though The West Wing remains to be his Best work in my opinion, especially if we consider only his 4 seasons. That second season alone can guarantee that. I went through all 7 seasons of it in about 3 weeks earlier this year. Soooo Good!!

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    1. Three weeks?! That's insane man, you're a beast. I did it in about 5 weeks, and that was pretty damn wild. I definitely liked that show a lot.

      The Rock is so much fun. I wish there were still action films like that.

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  10. i gave up the on the newsroom because it is the single most frustrating thing i've ever watched. sorkin's writing is so fucking prevalent that it's distracting. the show basically feels like a vehicle for him to voice his opinions. he needs a strong director to tell him when to ease off the gas, because if he doesn't have that, he's not doing to stop, he's going to ram his shit down your throat for an hour. the views on the film are incredibly liberal, as am i, but they're all coming from a character that repeatedly reminds us he's a registered republican. it's a very annoying concept, almost like a blanket he can pull over himself when people complain about his show. also, every woman on the show is always the root of the problem. they're terrible at their jobs because they just bring gossip and relationship issues into everything. fuck that show.

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    1. that said, i really do enjoy the social network. i've been meaning to go back and watch the west wing, but i don't think i can take any sorkin dialogue for a while.

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    2. also, a great time to stop watching this show was when they used coldplay's "fix you" holy fuck was that awful.

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    3. Oh god, the "Fix You" moment. That was fucking rad, man.

      I'm actually surprised that The Newsroom just got renewed for a 3rd season. I didn't think it'd make it that far. So I take it you've skipped this current season? Probably not a bad idea, if you tuned out in season 1.

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    4. i gave up like 2/3 of the way through the first season. whenever someone tells me what happens in a recent episode i just get upset

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    5. And to think, YOU were the one telling me Season 1 was decent after the bin Laden episode. I never knew you tuned out.

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    6. i don't recall a bin laden episode, i think i quit long before that.
      i liked the first episode well enough and i think talked to you about it. then a few episodes later i wanted to tear my eyes out.

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    7. Yeah it definitely started out pretty well. A slow decline.

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  11. I'm not a TV guy so I don't think I've seen as much as a single scene of any of those shows. However, Sorkin's film work is great, for the most part. Glad to see you like Bulworth so much. I think that is a sorely underrated film. On the other hand, I even like Charlie Wilson's War.

    And I might need to rewatch The Rock after seeing how much love it's getting from most here. I always thought it was kinda "meh."

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    1. Dude, The Rock is awesome. I love the hell out of that movie.

      Glad you're a Sorkin fan. The man can write the shit out of a flick.

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  12. I REALLY want to see The West Wing but I just know I'd get hooked and sit here and do nothing but watch it for 2 weeks.

    I had no idea he was behind Moneyball and it's one of my all time favorites, that script was just fantastic - I know nothing about baseball yet I didn't find it problematic while watching the movie.

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    1. Two weeks!? Holy hell. If you clocked that whole show in 2 weeks, that'd be amazing. 11 episodes a day. Do it!

      I'm not into baseball either, but Moneyball is absolutely perfect.

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    2. I wish but I currently do 11 legal acts a day for my exams :P

      I did watch Breaking Bad at such rate last summer, I seriously didn't even go to sleep cause I was too curious what will happen next.

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    3. Wow, that is awesome. I love cranking out TV like that. It's the best way, in my opinion.

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  13. Sadly, I have only seen Sports Night, The Social Network and Moneyball, but I loved all three. I have been considering starting The West Wing soon, too, but damn if 156 episodes isn't a huge commitment. Sounds like a hell of a series though.

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    1. Very big commitment. But I'm glad I can say I've watched it. Much of it flies by, but when it drags, it drags badly. Good news is that every season ends on a pretty dramatic cliffhanger, which kind of energizes you to keep on going.

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  14. I've only seen A Few Good Men (needs a rewatch), The Rock, Charlie Wilson's War, The Social Network and Moneyball, but he seems like a great screenwriter. While I get the love for TSN, I've always had a problem with the second half of the film. It starts off so fast, so strong, then it slows down. I dig the film, but that's always bothered me. Oddly enough, I'd give Sorkin an Oscar for Moneyball instead of TSN.

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    1. I definitely agree that TSN tonally shifts halfway through, but I guess it has never bothered me. I still stay enthralled, you know? But that's a fair argument you make, no doubt.

      The Moneyball script was amazing. I would've preferred it to win over The Descendants.

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  15. I liked The Newsroom initially, & it goes without say that most people who tune in find the premise agreeable. That is the problem, it doesn't challenge your views enough/how you perceive reality while going over stories that were over 2 years ago. I agree with all of the points you listed above. The last episode I watched, with about Genoa was actually rather compelling & I believe it is b/c the story was loosely based on reality. Also this story had great & eerie timing, given all of the talk of chemical warfare right now. I believe Sorkin needs to follow his intuition a bit more when it comes to this show instead of trying to hard to ram a specific agenda down our throats. He should trust that his viewers are smart enough not to need some congratulatory pat on the back for being on right side of history at this point in time.

    That said, I agree with you COMPLETELY about The Social Network! & am so surprised you said that. I LOVE this movie & I thought I was the only one. I may have told you this before but something about the way you direct/use music in your work reminds me of Sorkin. I don't know what b/c I'm not familiar with cinematic devices, but there is something so hip & fresh about what his work.

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    1. *because what is the point of replaying/going over stories from 2 years ago if you aren't going to challenge popular perceptions of the time??

      It could be a REALLY cool device to tell a story but he ruins it with all of the I can't even say middle school, I can safely say 4th grade drama

      *Anyways, overall so disappointed in this show but so blase b/c I can understand how so an ambitious idea can fail. The news nowadays trumps fiction, as most of it is so outlandish & pretty surreal at times. I think this is the source of the pressure that has made him crack a lot when it comes to this show.

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    2. Per The Newsroom, I think you're absolutely right. I think Sorkin bogs himself down with recent factual stories and then demands that we AGREE AGREE AGREE. It's too heavy with its message.

      I also agree that the Genoa storyline has been pretty compelling, for the exact reason you mentioned.

      LOVE The Social Network. Sorkin is definitely a hip dude, no question.

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    3. Scandal is another show with creepy timing. The Artie Hornbacher storyline came out months & months before the Edward Snowden saga. SO CREEPY, creepy, creepy, but it shows you that when writers use their intuition instead of giving into outside pressure & coming up with contrived story lines just what they can achieve.

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    4. *gives me chills down my spine just thinking about it...

      Also, on an unrelated note, please post on your fb or on twitter when you review Gravity (even though I don't think sci fi is your thing haha) & 12 Years a Slave. Very interested in what you have to say.

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    5. Sooo pumped to see Gravity. I'm actually attending a special sneak preview of it tomorrow. Can't wait! I will surely let you know when my review is posted. Same for 12 Years a Slave, which I think is going to be sensational.

      Never seen Scandal but have heard great things. I love Kerry Washington.

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    6. Well I didn't want to suggest Scandal b/c I don't think you would like it. Some of the writing is sort of sloppy as well as the pace but, it is extremely addicting the way a show like this usually is. I actually watched both 2 seasons over the course of this week & was really upset last night & I didn't realize why. It is b/c it is paced in such a way that I felt I had little time to actually process it emotionally. So you understand everything that has happened with the plot but there isn't enough character development for me/I'm not sure they do enough to show the characters as true to themselves rather than workings of the plot to take it too seriously. This is, of course, done for entertainment purposes & it comes on ABC at primetime, so I understand why Shonda Rhimes writes this way. I would like to see her eventually move onto HBO the way Sorkin has.

      Shows I LOVE are The Americans & Homeland. Homeland is perfectly paced I believe & mostly great character development. Another show I'm told is supposed to be really good but isn't with this subject of "DC noir" is Rectify. I think I will watch that after I finish watch seasons 2 & 3 of The West Wing.

      I think I might be opposite of you, I enjoy well-made TV shows b/c I can stay with the characters longer. So obviously I have WAAAAY too much to say about this. So sorry! Haha.

      Also Kerry Washington is, for me an unlikely role model (because I tried to resist liking her) but I DEFINITELY look up to her. She is great in so, so many ways.

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    7. Homeland is something I've been wanting to get into. Heard nothing but great things. I really dug the first season on The Americans.

      I love those first few seasons of The West Wing.

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  16. I think the biggest issue with Sorkin today, i.e the Newsroom, is that he has nothing to help him buffer his own writing. He had a hit with A Few Good starting out and then scored big time with the West Wing, who is going to question or critique the man who penned dialogue like that? But his recent successes like Moneyball and Social Network are adaptations of other people's work, he had the story's framework he just had to put his words into them. The Newsroom is the most face-palming, eye-rolling show I've ever seen in no small part because there is nothing to help filter it's sanctimonious writer, it is all his own work from conception to actual writing. He is good, he can be better with the knowledge that noone likes to be lectured at.

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    1. Your final sentence is perfect. Couldn't agree more. Very interesting take on his work, by the way. I feel like The Newsroom could be so great, but sadly... no. I'm still stunned Daniels won the Emmy.

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  17. I love this post, but why it isn't posted anywhere?

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    1. Hmm, I don't know. Maybe I'll put it under directors...?

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