Last week in my praise of the documentary Page One: Inside The New York Times, my opinions questioning the validity of Aaron Sorkin’s newest show were very obvious. Now that the first episode of The Newsroom is down my gullet, will my views be more moderate?
Yes and no.
The premise is that of a cable news anchor having a meltdown at some University debate. A forced vacation later, he is back at work and being saddled with a new, maybe burned out, Executive Producer. This crystalizes his crisis of faith and causes a rebirth on air. For he is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. He will become the new Murrow. Truth and justice will prevail on his airwaves. And the consequence will be a better America.
The pilot was, to put it bluntly, was kinda messy in a not good way. While the dynamics of the workings of the newsroom are mostly accurate, the Sorkinesque (is that an official word yet?) shoving of all these erstwhile lovelorn couples, wannabe love triangles, erratic ego trips, strange bosses, and inane empowerment issues down our throats bores me to tears. My finger twitched over the fast forward button so many times when these bits popped up and dragged on. Spoiler! The Anchor and new Executive Producer used to be a couple! And the universe yawned.
What The Newsroom gets mostly right is their coverage of a breaking news event. The rapid whirling pace of stretching out and covering all the bases, gathering facts upon facts, all too the impending deadline of doom. But at the beginning of this leg of the story, one character acts in such a cartoonishly stupid arrogant way, it makes you wonder if he is supposed to be moustache twirling villain of the piece. If so, his behaviour would have resulted in a firing, not a lateral move.
The main focal point really rests with Will McAvoy, the returning messiah anchor. Before the explosion of anger and frustration, he is a milquetoast on air with a non disagreeable attitude. Not letting himself “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” damages his attitude. This demeanour results in his massive mistreatment of staff. They harbour no love or loyalty for him. Misplaced anger is his fb status update at all times.
With the revelations he has now experienced, the reversal of his mindset ripples out on and off the air. His staff now receive comfort, while the evildoers are afflicted.
This may be the most interesting part of The Newsroom. Now if they just cut the clutter of the hushed conversations Sorkin might just have a show for the ages.
P.S. The Newsroom is copyright 2012 to HBO. No relation to the CBC show from the 1990’s.