They were going to be online here but now, not so much. I first got into Aaron Sorkin’s Sports Night because I’d got into his The West Wing but I did also read some scripts that were unofficially released online. That’s happy for me. And every once in a while when I’m back in a Sports Night mood, I’ll rewatch the episodes and invariably head for the Sports Night script site.
Until the new DVD came out. Well, no, I headed for the site alright but the site was gone. For weeks now, it’s been gone. But today, right now, this second in fact, and of course after I’d found a cunning way to salvage most of the scripts off there, that site is back.
The scripts on it range from early to late or shooting drafts and, especially if you know the series, it’s fascinating to see the progress of the stories and the characters. And from a production perspective, to see how huge chunks of story moved around the series before ending up in the episodes they did. The clearest example, and done for the most obvious reason, is the second half of How are Things in Glocca Morra? This is the first-season episode that was being filmed when Robert Guillaume had a stroke in real life. The entire final half of the script moved to a second-season episode instead.
If you’re less familiar with the show, I obviously think the scripts stand up as stories on their own but I do recognise that they’re harder to read than the average. In every episode there are scenes where two characters, Dan and Casey, are presenting a TV show and are in front of cameras while up to eight other speaking parts are in the control room and any or all can be going between the two. Plus anything the control room people say can be heard by the Dan and Casey if a mic is switched on; anything Dan and Casey ever say can always be heard in the control room. So conversations roam across the two rooms, some dialogue is for broadcast, some is not, it flows gloriously on screen.
And the way Aaron Sorkin and his many co-writers get this on the page is… by ignoring it. You’ll see long unbroken scenes where who is talking to whom and who can or can’t hear is only rarely covered.
It doesn’t help that this script site’s formatting of the screenplays is confusing when you’re used to real ones. So, what the hell? I managed to get one of the scripts, I spent some time making the formatting readable, lemme show you one anyway.
This is from the second season of Sports Night, it’s The Cut Man Cometh by Bill Wrubel and Aaron Sorkin. There are hardly any differences between this draft and the aired version but who cares? It’s one of the funniest and also one where I felt the most because it took me right back to disastrous nights in radio.