First of all, I'm not promising to do a weekly chitty-chat club about Aaron Sorkin's newest pet project The Newroom(which debuted last night on HBO), because... as I mentioned on Friday, a lot of people think it stinks, and I'm not super inclined to disagree. BUT! I do think there are a lot of things people aren't considering about this show, and I bet YOU have a lot of things to say, too. SO LET'S CHITTY-CHAT ABOUT THE NEWSROOM! At least this week. Spoilers and my thoughts after the jump!
UPDATE: Hey, non-HBO subscribers! Watch the premiere ep of The Newsroom here.
So here's what I'm thinking:
1) Maybe it was because I heard so much pre-bad press, but I didn't think The Newsroom was the train wreck all those critics were making it out to be. For me it was kind of an old-timey train wreck, like one of those wild west trains from the 1860s that was featured in Back to the Future III. How come? Because it was classic Sorkin. In fact, WAY too much classic Sorkin.
2) The Newsroom is the worst and the best of both The West Wing and Sports Night. Trying to combine the levity of the former and the gravitas of the latter, The Newsroom is a weird, disjointed mess that still somehow entertains—because say what you will, Aaron Sorkin is a talented guy, and no one else is like him.
3) MAJOR CON: For the love of FUCK, get rid of that sweeping music! It works for The West Wing, because it's about the highest office in the land, and deserves a bit of overwrought patriotism. But a cable news network? I'm sorry—but journalism is just not that important. Though I bet Sorkin might disagree.
4) MINOR CON: The characters are too stock. Newscaster Will McAvoy (an actually pretty great Jeff Daniels) and his executive producer Mackenzie MacHale (an actually very British Emily Mortimer) are practically carbon copies of Casey and Dana from Sports Night—same goes for mousey Maggie Jordan and doofy Jim Harper and their SN counterparts. The result is a very forced attempt at ZING! that never lands, and at it's worst moments, writing that would feel right at home in a community theater. (Did you see that prat fall Jim did? TERRRRRRRRIBLE!)
5) MAJOR PRO: Even while Sorkin's writing is a throwback to the late '90s, and is grotesquely forced at times, it still works. You still get caught up in it, and it's often funny and exciting—even while you kind of hate yourself for loving it.
6) MINOR PRO: Sorkin's blow-hardy holier-than-everyone character of Will McAvoy is kind of right. Journalism has turned into a loathsome joke. And a lot of print reviewers who critiqued this show are obviously butt-sore about it. I'm sure they would like to believe they possess the "integrity" McAvoy is blow-harding about, but the fact of the matter is "objective" journalism has never been "objective"—and every reader/viewer knows it. Which makes most "journalists" appear untrustworthy, and therefore worthy of a very public scolding from Aaron Sorkin.
7) All that being said, The Newsroom is simultaneously dumb, brilliant, goofy, self-obsessed and about half watchable. Just like Aaron Sorkin himself—a fact that can be backed up by this article. So. I'm gonna watch this show for at least two more weeks. And I may write about it... or not.
TELL ME WHAT YOU'RE THINKING!
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