, if you haven't heard of it, is the show Aaron Sorkin created before The West Wing
. It was a half-hour show set backstage at a late-night cable show called, yes, Sports Night
, and ran between 1998 and 2000. Thanks to the kindness of lamentables
, I've been gradually working my way through it over the past couple of months.
Now, I knew from a certain episode
of The West Wing
that Sorkin seemed to be a space fan, but I was still taken a bit by surprise by 'The Sweet Smell of Air
'. Dana Whitaker, the producer of Sports Night
, wants to discuss a potential Michael Jordan interview with her boss, the managing editor Isaac Jaffe:
DANA: Hi, Isaac--
ISAAC: Hi. Dana, listen to this, this is fantastic. [reads from magazine] "Bioengineering might one day create living creatures adapted to survival in space."
ISAAC: Space birds.
DANA: ... OK.
ISAAC: Don't you wanna know how they're gonna fly without air?
DANA: Uh ... OK.
ISAAC: It says here they're gonna fly on sunlight.
DANA: ... So, we got this Michael Jordan offer ...
ISAAC: And further out where the sunlight grows weaker, they're gonna bioengineer a squid.
DANA: ... Squid?
ISAAC: Yes! Swimming not in water, but in space. [reading again] "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."
ISAAC: I can see myself out there. Sitting alone by the fire. A space squid my only companion.
ISAAC: Michael Jordan.
ISAAC: They wanna 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. [hands Isaac the notes]
DANA: Yeah. Do we book the interview?
DANA: [baffled] Isaac!
DANA: And talk about perfume?
DANA: There's no difference!
ISAAC: Michael's Michael. Let him talk about what he wants.
DANA: You really wanna use Sports Night for a five-minute infomercial?
ISAAC: With Michael? Sure.
DANA: Isaac ...
ISAAC: You know, just ten years ago it would've 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.
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 colonise the solar system.
DANA: Are you obsessing about this?
ISAAC: [beat, shrugs] Because I won't be alive to see it.
DANA: [beat] OK. [leaves]
ISAAC: [turning back to his magazine] Space squid ... and there's a drawing. This is gonna be in-credible ...
Reports that Aaron Sorkin is a Stephen Baxter fan remain unconfirmed.