Integrity. Honesty. Accountability. Objectivity.
Not words that one tends to associate with the news, and journalists who are restricted to presenting the ‘facts’ as their corporate sponsors want nowadays. That’s not to say that there aren’t hardworking investigative journalists out there anymore. I know there are. It’s just too bad, they are being shoved aside for soundbites, and non-news.
Aaron Sorkin, love him or hate him, can write. I never completely got into The West Wing, I circled it warily, always liking what I saw, but unwilling to commit to the full series – who know, maybe I’ll revisit it?
But he also wrote A Few Good Men, The Social Network, Moneyball, and Sports Night.
So it was with a bit of anticipation that I tuned into the first episode of The Newsroom. Now admittedly, the first scene seems a little contrived, I don’t think any university co-ed would ever be so vapid enough to ask “What makes America the greatest?” and it allows Sorkin, early in the show to get on his soapbox via the character of Will McAvoy (deflty portrayed by Jeff Daniels) to take the country to task for it’s delusion of still being the greatest country in the world – now once again, agree or disagree with Sorkin, the tirade makes a number of valid points.
Of course, he is almost completely shunned by the American world automatically for speaking against them, even if it is to better them, and McAvoy returns to the news studio to learn that his E.P. (executive producer) and most of his staff are leaving to work on the 10 o’clock show. (Course he also can’t remember the names of any of his staff, and tends to be a bit of a dick towards them when the camera is off).
His boss, and the man who owns the channel, Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston) who seems better at his job with a drink in his hand, hires Mackenzie MacHale (Emily Mortimer). Mac has a romantic history with Will, and it seems to have ended badly, but is a fantastic E.P. She brought her handpicked crew to New York with her, including Martin (Thomas Matthews) and fights tooth and nail to work with Will.
Will, however, is less than kind when it comes to all matters Mackenzie, and goes to see his agent and his contract, convinced he had E.P. approval.
The writing is quick, and its delivery is fast, and almost Howard Hawks-ian in it’s style, which gave me no end of delight.
Then we learn the date, April 22, 2010.
The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion, and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Martin begins running leads down right away, checking his contacts, while Don (Thomas Sadoski) the current E.P. who is going to the 1opm slot tries to shut him down, by telling him the news alert is only at yellow.
Martin, Don’s girlfiend, Margaret/Maggie (Alison Pill), who Mac bumps up to associate producer, and Neal (Dev Patel) continue running down the story, and present it to Mac and Will.
And then we get to see new being made, reporting on the fly, all orchestrated by Mac and performed by Will.
The entire cast antagonizes one another, pushing, annoying, and then working together to make the best show they can make, and the one Mac wants to make, and believes Will can do, is honest, objective, and informative to the viewing public. A modern day Cronkite, or Murrow.
Both Daniels and Mortimer shine in their roles, bringing their A-game and seem to truly enjoy sinking their teeth into Sorkin’s dialogue. Each member of the cast is strong and believable in their role, Waterston is a hoot, and I’m looking forward to the character arcs and relationships that are just blossoming.
I was hooked within minutes of the show, and loved the rapid-fire dialogue, the glimpse behind the scenes of a news show, and the sheer hectic pace when the new program airs live.
HBO has another winner on their hands, and as long as the writing, and acting stay strong, I will be watching the entire run of the series (and maybe try and watch The West Wing as well).
What did you think?