HBO’s newest show, Aaron Sorkin‘s “The Newsroom,” premiered on Sunday, to middling reviews.In HBO terms, anything less than raves means panic-mode, and they responded by giving away the pilot online for free (see it here).
After watching it, it’s clear this is a show worth watching, though not without some glaring faults.
So before Sunday’s second episode airs, we’ll tell you what was good, and what was not so good.
At times the show is so self-righteous it's corny. The moral seems to be that nobody in the media is properly delivering the news, so nobody is being held accountable, and America is suffering because of it.
Apparently, this news station is full of superheroes who will save America by season five. If this flawless journalism becomes a trend, and this particular newsroom handles every piece of breaking news better than anyone else, it's going to get old fast.
'Newsroom' features a very solid cast including Emily Mortimer, Sam Waterston, Allison Pill (standout of the group), and Dev Patel, but this is the Jeff Daniels show, and he takes full advantage of the pages upon pages of dialogue he has at his disposal.
We just don't care ... yet. Granted, it takes more than one hour to become emotionally invested in characters, so this could change, but it could also get even worse.
Maybe by season two (there's probably going to be a season two) we will care who is dating who, but not right now. And not for the next few episodes, so hopefully these relationships play out slowly and aren't shoved down our throats.
Once you get past all those eye rolling moments, there's a lot to like. When it's good it's great. You almost get the feeling that this show HBO green lit the show on Jeff Daniel's opening monologue alone.
The soundtrack sounds as if 'Jurassic Park' was going for an Oscar. The show doesn't need to force the viewer to feel like every scene is the most poignant moment in American television, because it isn't.
The show's biggest strength may be perceived by some to be another of its flaws. By setting the show in the recent past and watching former events occur in real time (like in the pilot with the BP oil spill), Sorkin is able to show how to perfectly handle a tough situation as a journalist. While it could feel stale or forced, it's riveting to watch these stories play out in real time.
Would the show be better or worse if we didn't know Aaron Sorkin created it? Love him or hate him, the answer is 'worse.'
The man knows how to write and is a proven show runner. But one can't help but think that this show would seem better if every frame wasn't compared to 'Sports Night,' 'The West Wing,' or even 'Studio 60.' There isn't another writer whose current work is so frequently compared to his past projects. When you've already won a Tony, an Emmy, and an Oscar, there isn't much room for improvement.
The issue is hype. Anything less than 'Mad Men' was going to face some harsh criticism. If you take his name (and the baggage that comes with it) out of the equation, what's left is a promising show, one that likely would have garnered a few more favourable reviews.
'The Newsroom' isn't perfect TV, but it's definitely entertaining.
This is a show with a lot of promise, and it's on the right network to allow it time to mature and improve. Sorkin said it best (and on multiple occasions): 'It seems to me that more and more, we've come to expect less and less, and that's got to change.'
Here's hoping he takes his own advice as well as he takes his own lines.
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