TV Review – The Newsroom
The wizard behind The West Wing is back, and this time Aaron Sorkin isn’t limited by broadcast network censors, thanks to the freedom of being on HBO.
Sorkin’s forté is taking us behind the scenes of places that we wouldn’t usually have access to, and he’s done the “behind the curtain” of TV thing before (with Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, both critical successes but ratings disappointments). He’s giving it another shot with The Newsroom.
The series focuses on a CNN-like news operation with a narcissistic, yet sometimes self deprecating star anchor, Will McAvoy (fantastically played by Jeff Daniels. Hard to believe that this is the guy who’s about to star in Dumb & Dumber 2), his overly-enthusiastic (and, formerly romantic, natch) producer, Mackenzie MacHale (Emily Mortimer), and their staff of young go-getters.
The casting is great and Jeff Daniels really does completely get lost in his character. At times the staff can come across as a little too enthusiastic, in the sense of making it seem like “we’re doing The Most Important Thing In The World”. Mackenzie and Will being former lovers does bring with it the predictable awkward moments (“oh, I see you got flowers, who are they from?”). And there are the usual Sorkinisms. But honestly, when the show rolls and gets really good, I’m willing to forgive those small things.
Oh, and another great casting twist, one of the most liberal members of “liberal Hollywood”, Jane Fonda, plays Will McAvoy’s nemesis, the ultra-conservative network owner who constantly butts heads with McAvoy and his boss (News Division President, Charlie Skinner, played by Sorkin mainstay Sam Waterston) over on-air content that she feels could jeopardize her financial relationships with conservative special interest groups.
The Newsroom is smart, sometimes too smart for its own good, but you can at least feel like you may have actually learned something by the end of the hour. The series finale airs this weekend on HBO, so now is a great time to catch up on the previous episodes.
Have you seen The Newsroom? If so, leave a comment and let us know what you think!