Calling “Fandom” on Aaron Sorkin’s New Show: Too Soon?


Founder

I’m never first off the mark on anything, and I’m probably not first on this either, but I don’t care. I’m calling FANDOM on the next show from scribe Aaron Sorkin, the nameless-now-but-once-known-as More as This Story Develops. I’m calling it like so much shotgun.*

I know, I know, it hasn’t even aired yet. Hell, there hasn’t even been a promotional image. A logo. A title.

So why bother with The Show That Has Not Yet Been Named? Because everything Aaron Sorkin does has the earmarks of a property that will have a fandom associated with it: His stuff always contains 50% more material than can ever be absorbed on first viewing (which = potential for obsession); it always features some smart, literate characters (which = potential for fan fiction), and it’s almost always slightly tortured (which = not potential, but certain, online bitching). FANDOM**!

I am qualified to do this. I am a hardcore Sorkin aficionado. Did you memorize President Andrew Shepherd’s “and I AM the president” speech? Have you watched all seven seasons of The West Wing six and four-sevenths times (I lose heart, but eventually push through, around season five, which is yet more Sorkin cred, if you know what I mean, and only the Sorkin fans do). Do you follow Josh Malina on Twitter? (That one’s not hard, people. You should go do it now. He’s funny.)

So, in anticipation of the hotly followed, occasionally troubled future that the Show Formerly Known As More as This Story Develops is sure to encounter once it encounters a better title, let’s try and cut some of the controversy off at the pass. Let’s count the lessons we have thus far learned from Aaron Sorkin’s television outings:

Sports Night: Late 1990s is way too early to be smart, funny, controversial and entertaining on television. Also Aaron Sorkin should never try to invoke an audience using the word “sports.” These are not the watchers you are looking for. This way lies cancellation. Don’t call something what it’s not.

However, do cast Josh Malina. As anything.

The West Wing: There’s a line in the fourth season that sums it all up: Sam Seaborn, after the presidential debate, recalls a conversation he had with Toby at 3 a.m., on the ever-revolving topic of the president’s overbearing intellectual superiority. “‘It’s a gift that they’re irreversibly convinced that he’s arrogant ’cause now he can be.’ If your guy’s seen that way you might as well knock some bodies down with it.” That is, sometimes, Sorkin’s writing. Washington D.C. was the only place the high ideals, the dirty tricks, the super-smahtness of it all not only made perfect sense, but was expected. If you’re going to be a smartass, set it someplace smartassy.

Other lessons of The West Wing? Don’t piss off the hottest guy on your show. Don’t do coke. And never hand things off to the Republicans, even if it’s just for a little while***.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: Don’t bite the hand that feeds you****, even if it’s true that by doing so you create one of the best things to ever air on TV. Don’t try to be coyly autobiographical on network television: we are going to notice. Do continue to sneak-drop in Sondheim quotes as though people actually talk like that (first person to say WHO said it and WHAT lyric I’m talking about will win…something).

Do always use Bradley Whitford.

More as This Story Develops: We already have a lesson for this show, because this is a sucky name. (It was initially referred to as a Working Title, which is Hollywood for, “This is a sucky name.” In this case it is also referred to as “formerly the working title,” because studio execs apparently ALSO NOTICED that this is a sucky name and are now going with the much-preferred nothing instead).

Know how I know this was a terrible name? I was just imagining myself talking to my fellow Leaky editors and asking them, “Hey, did you watch More as t- Th- – um did you watch MATSD last night?” And even the acronym is a pain in the ass to type. You have to think about it.  You shouldn’t have to think about it. There’s no shortener a la Studio 60, either: What do you say, More? This Story? Story Develops?

MATSD also sounds a little like a disease. Not a get-you-out-of-gym disease, either: a get-you-out-of-ever-being-able-to-have-children disease.

I suggest: something with “line” in it (Newsline, though this sounds a lot like Dateline, and see the too-real-point with Studio 60). Or Frontline. Or since this is about a cable news show – assumedly a left-leaning one, as anything else would violate the previously stated idea that Aaron Sorkin’s writing should never try to pretend to be something it’s not – how about something that reflects the core challenge presenting newscasters these days (and which is hinted at in the Bad Title). Namely, the up-to-the-minute-twitter-facebookstatusing-insane-impossible-to-satisfy-NOW-ness of it. We’re Getting Word; This Just In; Unconfirmed Reports; My Twitter Feed Says; The Latest From The Most Unreliable Sources on the Planet… I’m on a tangent, and a bad one at that. But you get the idea. This is not my job. Someone else should do this, and be better at it. And soon! We have to know what to call it. I need to make the category. The page. The quilt.

What next after we “call” fandom? Now we have to start breaking down the cast members, talking about their previous work, speculating about what their characters are going to be like. That can be in the next post. Now I get to link you to fun things that prove this is already going to be a badass show: like this article, about how Aaron Sorkin broke his nose while writing it.

He may be the only person I’ve ever heard of to sustain a non-hand writing injury, but if you know about his writing style it’s not that odd. Sorkin walks around and inhabits the characters, has arguments with himself, takes both sides of a position – in short, acts it out. As his characters are frequently at their best when sparring and walking, this is good news. You know he was power-walking around his mansion, gesticulating wildly and shouting, when he frying-panned it into a wall. Aaron Sorkin has Aaron Sorkinned himself.

Oh yes. I call fandom.

Ed. note: The show that is not called “More As This Story Develops” will get a title and an initial, gloriously commercial free, 10-episode run on HBO, supposedly sometime in 2012. We will be covering it intensely. As a matter of fact, we already are. We’ve done more articles on it than there have been episodes.

*Honestly, it’s mostly so that I can get this post up here and claim dibs on the show before editor Rosi punches me out beats me to it.

**This isn’t necessarily a formula for the creation of a fandom. There are many ways to create a fandom: writing a book about supernaturally hot supernatural people is one of them. Or writing something that includes every detail about everything (see LOTR, Game of Thrones) so we can write epic fan fiction about it. Or just airing it on the Disney channel.

***If you are complaining about my bringing in THE DREADED POLITICS you aren’t getting the reference, and sure aren’t getting the META reference. You should REALLY watch The West Wing now. All seven seasons. Or you’re going to be completely unequipped to deal with any discussion of any Aaron Sorkin anything on this page. Aaron Sorkin without politics is like Sarah Palin without an American flag pin: it’s not going to happen.

**** A lesson learned for Aaron Sorkin does not necessarily reflect my own view. I’m a fan of hand-biting. I think the hand should always be a little scared you are going to bite it. I own Moochka; I should know.

 

  • Alocke2

    Absolutely. This just made my day a million times better.

  • cbm

    I watched all 3 of these shows, and I think 2 of them were cancelled well before their time. I would have loved to see how they developed.

    As for the West Wing, even though I tend towards being a Libertarian, I thought it was a GREAT show. It showed how I like to imagine the way every White House should work with competent dedicated people.

    Any show that requires you to be of one political persuasion to enjoy, is not a well conceived or executed show. Writing and bringing that vision to the screen is what Sorkin does on a consistent basis better than anyone right now. Hopefully the new show will live up to those standards.

    • http://leakynews.com LeakyNews

      Totally agree: one of the things I loved most about West Wing was that even though ti was CLEARLY written by Democrats it did work hard to show the other side of the story. And you could enjoy it no matter where you leaned. In fact i think it might have been even more enjoyable to disagree with it vehemently, but maybe that’s just me. -M

  • http://twitter.com/melissa62442 Melissa Cerimele

    Oh West Wing, how I miss you. Can’t wait to hear more about The Show That Has Not Been Named!
    Might you be referring to Jack Rudolph saying “thieves get rich and saints get shot and God don’t answer prayers a lot”?

    • http://leakynews.com LeakyNews

      DING DING DING WE HAVE A WINNER! Now – what show is it from?

      • http://leakynews.com LeakyNews

        If you’re googling you lose! It’s Merrily We Roll Along, from “Now You Know.” “it’s called thieves get rich, it’s called saints get shot, it’s called God don’t answer prayers a lot…”

        • http://twitter.com/melissa62442 Melissa Cerimele

          shoulda checked back earlier. no googling involved though! just a general fascination with musicals

          • http://leakynews.com LeakyNews

            Hehe. We believe you! No one steals like Sorkin.

            • Guest

              :D i’ll admit i’ve never actually seen the tv show…

            • Claire

              Good writers borrow crom other writers. Great writers steal from them outright.

              • Anonymous

                Sam Seaborn 20 Hours in America (Part 2)

  • Brigid

    What? How have I not heard of this new Sorkin show? Excuse me, I shall be rewatching all of my Sorkin DVDs with barely-concealed excitement and googling this development.

  • http://www.youtube.com/missxrojas Rosianna

    *clings to Sorkin*

  • Jennifer

    The West Wing is my favorite TV show, without a doubt. I love others, but I could talk for hours about this show and still not be done.

    It’s had a huge influence on my life in a lot of ways. And, Melissa, I could probably take you on how many times I’ve seen episodes, though I 100% agree with you about Season 5.

    The show was a powerhouse. There’s a great piece by Sorkin on how he came up with the show (it was basically accidental) and it’s so very him.

    I can’t wait to see what he comes up with. Studio 60 was really good. Lots more Bradley Whitford as well please! I wouldn’t be against some Allison Janney too…

  • AlliCat236

    Can we just called a permanent fandom on what ever the heck Sorkin does? I still walk around quoting CJ at random moments of the day. :)

    • http://leakynews.com LeakyNews

      Yes. Why yes we can.

  • Claire

    Can I please join you in your fandom?

  • Anonymous

    So many people hated Studio 60 for no good reason… though I think perhaps they should’ve gone to a different format: Include more sketches (I mean, you have Mark McKinney for Goddess’ sake!) and go to 90 minutes… (which, yes, is this side of impossible in taped television, but maybe you don’t put out 22 episodes.)

    Ah well… this is why we need to change the way television is distributed so that you can still make a show with a sliding-yet-committed audience… if only they made me supreme overlady… or… what’s the feminine for overlord?

    Here’s hoping this series gets at least seven seasons, all of them written by Aaron.

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