Tuesday, June 26, 2012

REVIEW: The Newsroom

HBO - Sundays 10/9c

Aaron Sorkin returns to the world of television with a new drama focusing on, you guessed it, a newsroom.

Employing fictional news anchor Will McAvoy, a man slightly resembling Bill O'Reilly without being overly right wing, we are given a glimpse behind the scenes of McAvoy's news show as it deals with the fallout from an anti-America is great rant.

1.  Does it entertain  me?
Sorkin has a certain style to his writing, as evidenced by the style over substance quick pace of The Social Network.  It's a writing and directing style that is flashy and looks nice, and also serves to cover up possible flaws in a show.  Some people really enjoy this, while others can leave it behind, wanting nothing more than to get through the episode.

The writing is good, however, and the acting is good.  Jeff Daniels drops his Dumb and Dumber act and goes the serious route.  He is able to carry the rants of McAvoy that are necessary for establishing the show and the character as a blowhard.

The focus of the first episode is getting McAvoy's show back up and running after a vacation, and then dealing with news of the BP oil spill in the gulf (using real events in a fictional setting is a good device to bring the audience in).  We get to see phones ringing, sources tested, people talking fast and waking faster.  It's all very hectic and fast-paced, which is where Sorkin's writing shines.

However, the glaring problem with the show is that at the end of the day, it's still a show about a newsroom.  Similar to David Milch's Luck, The Newsroom is attempting to bring us into a world that we are familiar with on a surface level (we have all seen the news, I'm guessing), but don't know about the inner workings.

The problem is that Sorkin doesn't have the same command of language or character that Milch does, and so at the end of the day, you're just watching a show about a newsroom.  And there are numerous times when I found myself checking the clock, because at times it does drag if this isn't a world you care about or want to care about.

2.  Is it realistic?
As far as I know, yes.  The people in the room seemed to be acting accordingly, and there was nothing too dicey going on.

Of course, none of this could be real, and it's all made up and I wouldn't know the difference. 

3.  Are immoral actions defended?
The opening scene is McAvoy answering the question, "What makes America the greatest country in the world?"  He points out the many flaws, the poor education scores, the booming deficit, and everything else facing our country now.  It's well-written by Sorkin and well-delivered by Daniels.  This pointing out the flaws of your own country is the closest thing to immoral behavior in the pilot.

There are a few instances of swearing in the episode, but nothing that would make you run out of the room in horror.

There is no nudity and no sex.

4.  Are traditional family values upheld?
There is an allusion to a past relationship, and inferences of a current between two employees, with an instance of sexual talk.  But other than that, there is no indication of divorce, affairs or adultery.
The Newsroom is going to find an audience because Aaron Sorkin is on the short list of showrunners with a following.  It is stylish, sometimes compelling, sometimes boring.  It has the making of a good show, but I don't know if it has the makings of a great one.

Grade: B+

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