I’m excited to write about this one. The newsroom is not a brand new series, it’s fairly young though. It premiered in 2012 and has enjoyed two mostly successful seasons so far. I’ve heard a lot about this show but never got the opportunity to watch it because I lacked HBO at the time. I’ve been very familiar with what most consider it’s most potent scene. A scene presented to the audience within the first 10 minutes of the pilot. This tirade of a speech made my list of Top 8 TV monologues .
Heads up, the embedded link isn’t going to work on the page, every High Quality video of this scene I find doesn’t allow embedded to work. Why they made this scene so un sharable is beyond me, but you should still take a moment to head over to Youtube and give it a view.
The newsroom is about very ambitious group of news reporters. Well, ambitious might not be the right word. The lead anchor of the show is respected but hard to like William McAvoy portrayed by Jeff Daniels. The network and his staff have practically given up on him. The president of the news network Charlie Skinner, his mentor and close friend, is going to give him one more opportunity. He re-hires his former executive producer from years ago. He believes McKenzie McHale is the only person who can bring out his best work. She also happens to be his ex-girlfriend. She desperately wants him to do a quality news show. The kind we supposedly don’t see anymore,and they will only confront what they feel is relevant. They will approach and attack any issue with absolute conviction and never stray away from the tough questions. Ambitious is the word, but its being supported by desperation as well.
The tension between Will and McKenzie (Mac) is the tip of the iceberg as far as character relations go. This show is very preachy and focuses as much on the news as they do their own interpersonal relationships. You know what? thats quite alright. The way the cast interacts is the golden point of the show. To me, the relationships are completely believable. Will has a chip on his shoulder, but Jeff Daniels delivers an amazing performance. A quote from Will when his political affiliation is questioned. “I’m a registered Republican. I only seem liberal because I believe that hurricanes are caused by high barometric pressure and not gay marriage”. McKenzie is a woman who wears her heart on her sleeve. She is admired for her talents as a producer but respected because she is open with her staff and her feelings. She even makes no qualms about yelling at Will in public, doors are pretty useless to her character. They are great but a show stealer is Olivia Munn as financial analyst Sloan Sabbith. Her attitude, quirky remarks and perfect comedic timing is on a whole other level. Liking the newsroom is a matter of opinion, but you be hard press not to enjoy mostly every second of Sloan Sabbith.
This show is created by Aaron Sorkin. He has written the screen play for such blockbusters as “A Few Good Men”, “MoneyBall” and “The Social Network”. What he is known best for is his writing for “The West Wing” and “Sports night”. The West Wing is one of the most critically acclaimed TV programs ever. Sports night isn’t as popular but people who did watch it thought very highly of it. The Newsroom is his obvious combination of the two. Sports night was a show about a fictional sports news show, very much in the vain of ESPN SportsCenter. It concentrated on the highs and lows of adhering the ethical standards of journalism and catering to the pressure of being network TV. He took that premise and added political intrigue of the west wing by making it a general news show. A strength of the show is that you see the team react to actual news events of the world. They deal with the BP oil spill, the emergence of the tea party and a very powerful episode on the night America killed Osama Bin Laden. It’s not perfect but it’s not bad. Sorkin has a habit of beating his audience over the head, he gets on this podiums and refuses to get off. Some people will be turned off by this, but I think the fact that these events are actually real helps a great deal. Its one thing to be lectured about a fictional scenario that has obvious real world influences, but we remember how we felt about the Osama Bin Laden news. For better or worst, the way they report that is gonna resonate with you. In the shows spirit, it wants to present that to you in a some how dim controversial light.
The overall reception of the show was mixed in the first second and generally more positive for the second season. As I stated before the show does have some pitfalls. It is very preachy with its ideals. Diversity is also an issue, with a pretty much none of the minority characters having prevalent roles. The only one worth mentioning is SlumDog Millionaries own Dev Patel as Neil the IT guy. Who happens to be the only guy who seems to have any shread of confidence of how social media works. Terry crews appears on the show for a few epiosdes as well. Don’t get too excited though, he wasn’t doing anything that different, he was just a body guard.
The show is advertised as a Drama, but I think a “dramedy” is describes it a lot better. I think it’s a bit over the top on purpose and it has to be. The show is basically all about character match-ups. You want to see Will and Mac go off on each other. You want to see Sloan and Charlie banter. You even want to see the IT guy desperately try to get a story about Big Foot get aired. I think Sorkin on the low is going out of his own comfort zone and playing it alittle off the cuff. The second season finds itself dealing with significantly more serious tones, which is led by a fabulous arc about Americans potentially using chemical warfare in a black zone extraction op. It’s the best the show had to offer, probably one of the finest arcs I’ve seen in a long time.
The Newsrooms third and final season will be airing this fall. I hope they fix some of the issues that plague it. It needs something to take it to the next level. It’s gotta a decent amount of award nominations and has earned Jeff Daniels an Emmy for lead actor. So its already flirting with unanimous success, here is to hoping it figures out how to bring it all home. I’m looking forward to it.