Television: Distinct? Or Extinct?

Sports Night is so innovative it could become a new evolutionary stage of the sitcom--if it lasts

Whether or not a new television show survives is usually a fairly trivial matter, but in the case of Sports Night the stakes are higher. This series, which airs Tuesdays at 9:30 E.T. on ABC, represents the best opportunity in a long time for network comedy to evolve into something sharper and more interesting. If it fails--a highly possible outcome, given its mediocre ratings--then the networks will be all the more wary of trying something novel. On the other hand, if the show succeeds, it just might revitalize a very tired form.

Sports Night is about a nightly cable show of...

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