TV Series Review: Newsroom
First and foremost let me confess, I’m a very big Aaron Sorkin fan. He’s a very good writer, and gets the most out of his actors, arguably more than any other writer/producer in the business. After Sorkin “left” television following the end of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and with The Social Network being nominated for and winning multiple awards, his return to television looked bleak.
First and foremost let me confess, I’m a very big Aaron Sorkin fan, from West Wing and Sports Night, to his most recent crowning achievement, the critically acclaimed Mark Zuckerburg biopic, The Social Network. He’s a very good writer, and gets the most out of his actors, arguably more than any other writer/producer in the business. After Sorkin “left” television following the end of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and with The Social Network being nominated for and winning multiple awards, his return to television looked bleak. Luckily for Sorkin fans, it didn’t actually take very long for him to return, and this time, he’s on HBO, which provides a higher quality audience and isn’t a slave to ratings as much as the networks on which his past shows have aired.
I’ve watched the first two episodes of the series and if you love Sorkin’s style, you’re going to tuning in every week. The Newsroom is best summed up as a mix between Sports Night and The West Wing. It is set on a fictional news program titled News Night. In the pilot, we are introduced to Will McAvoy a prickly news anchor (played brilliantly by Jeff Daniels), who makes a controversial outburst and then finds his prime-time news show in a transition. We’re then introduced to the members of his staff, including his new executive producer with whom he has a checkered past (Emily Mortimer). Besides Daniels and Mortimer, the supporting cast of the series includes Olivia Munn, John Gallagher, Jr., Allison Pill, Dev Patel, Thomas Sadoski and Sam Waterston.
The Newsroom’s placement on HBO allows Sorkin to do many things he couldn’t on TV, but perhaps it’s through those very same network limitations and time constraints where his stories became perfectly tuned. Slated as a 60-min series, there were many times where scenes felt like they could have either been shortened, reworked, or completely left out. Sorkin perhaps felt like he needed to include a lot in the pilots (which comes in at about 72 minutes), but a tighter pace would have made for a more fluid viewing experience, allowing audiences time to become attached to the characters on their own terms. Though one of the smallest television casts that Sorkin has worked with, very few characters, along with their motivations, are clearly defined by the end of the premiere.
Even so, for fans of Aaron Sorkin, there’s much to be excited about. While many will certainly focus on the political aspect of the series, HBO’s The Newsroom is as much about politics as FX’s The League is about football.