Space Ramblings

Bye Bye Aaron

Aaron Sorkin will return to Broadway in November with his play about the birth of television, “The Farnsworth Invention An ensemble drama with a cast of 19 in its original staging, the play spans the first half of the 20th century, focusing on American electronics pioneer Philo T. Farnsworth and Russian-born media titan David Sarnoff as they clash over credit for the advent of television and the direction in which the medium will go.

“Farnsworth” was conceived by Sorkin as a screenplay but morphed into a stage project to be helmed by McAnuff at Dublin’s Abbey Theater. Sorkin’s last work to play the Rialto was 1989 military drama “A Few Good Men,” which closed in early 1991 after a run of 497 performances. Since then, Sorkin’s career has steered him away from the stage, first into film with “The American President” and then into television with ABC’s “Sports Night,” NBC’s White House drama “The West Wing” and last season’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.”

Frankly Aaron Sorkin belongs on stage and in the theater. Much like David Mamet the television and the silver screen simply aren’t his mediums. The thing about David Mamet is that he and film may be an uncomfortable fit but what he produces is interesting enough to be worth watching. By contrast Aaron Sorkin is a poor fit and is still playing to the theater. His dialogue is painfully wordy. His dramatic conventions would best work for a live audience which is willing to sit through them. His Sorkiness is simply a creature of the theater and there is no escaping that. Having him return to the theater which birthed him is really for the best.

His Sorkiness could never properly breathe the common air of the ordinary television viewer. He seemed to think that it made sense to produce half hour shows about sports and sketch comedy that were utterly unfunny and meant to be some sort of bittersweet look at how Sports Center and Saturday Night Live really are behind the scenes. This worked badly. Very badly. His one real success was premised on its premise rather than on the batch of endlessly bickering annoying characters and Sorkin’s own shallow take on domestic and foreign policy.

Bye Bye Aaron. Much luck in the theater.

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