I’m having a really hard time finding flaws with the new HBO series The Newsroom, created by the well-renowned Aaron Sorkin. With a solid ensemble cast and near exemplary writing, this freshman show has gotten my attention and will not soon lose it.
The series revolves around nationally-known news anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) and his team of broadcast journalists that bring relevant news to television viewers every night on the show, “News Night”. Emily Mortimer plays McAvoy’s executive producer, as well as former girlfriend, Mackenzie McHale. The two butt heads quite often but they clearly respect each other and together make a solid team. Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston) is essentially the boss of News Night and, along with being involved in many decisions made on the news floor, contributes many of the better one-liners doled out in each episode. The News Night staff includes Jim Harper (John Gallagher Jr.), Don Keefer (Thomas Sadoski), Maggie Jordan (Alison Pill), Neal Sampat (Dev Patel), and Sloan Sabbith (Olivia Munn), among many others.
One of the things that immediately grabbed my attention was the technique Sorkin uses of setting up timeline a good two years behind current time. Since The Newsroom covers several “ripped from the headlines” stories, I found it quite interesting and smart that the show began at a point just far enough away that allowed for accurate portrayal of the news stories, but also gave we viewers the sense of connectedness we still feel with these stories. Granted, this technique will probably prove difficult at times, seeing as the show is on its fourth episode and is already dated in January 2011. However, I’ve seen enough of Sorkin’s work to trust that he knows where he’s going with the general timeline.
So far, each episode has dealt with one specific story that dominated the news during that period. The BP oil spill, the Arizona immigration law, the Tea Party movement, and the Arizona shooting that resulted in a wounded Gabriel Giffords, have all been topics of conversations in the recent episodes. I am interested to see where Sorkin and the show’s writers will take this technique, as well as how it will be received due to the inevitable political stances that must be taken in discussing such topics. I am sure the writers will attempt to stay as neutral as possible, since national news generally is as such, but nevertheless it seems like at some point a stance must be taken. It will be interesting to see how that aspect pans out.
Apart from the general mechanics, I am constantly floored by the wonderful and detailed character development that we’ve
come to expect from Sorkin’s writing. Within the pilot alone, the seven or eight main characters who were introduced all had some sort of significant shift in their development, and it did not stop there. The relationships between the characters are delightful to watch, and this is not really surprising with such a strong cast playing these roles.
One of my favorite things about The Newsroom is the incredibly rapid pace at which everything moves. I’ve worked in a news cycle and I know from experience that being in a newsroom is a chaotic, messy, fast-paced situation. The dialogue and general camera movement clearly exemplifies this and shows us just how quick the journalists need to move in order to get the story out.
Not only that, but each episode seems a little bit more uplifting and inspiring than the last. The show teaches us about integrity and honesty in the news, as well as the importance of reporting fairly and accurately. Not to mention, the music choices add significantly to the emotional ride we take in each episode. (Example: The last ten minutes of the most recent episode involved a tear-inducing race to get out the story of Congresswoman Gifford’s shooting set to Coldplay’s “Fix You” in the background.)
The Newsroom makes me want to care about what’s going on around me. It inspires me to educate myself on past information in order to understand the info of the present. And most importantly, it keeps old news stories relevant and draws on our memories of the events and how they affected us. While the news is constantly in flux, one thing is for sure: I know my Sundays are a little brighter with this show to look forward to.
Have you been watching The Newsroom? What do you think? Let us know!