[NOTE: This blog post is written after viewing only the premiere episode of THE NEWSROOM. All opinions herein are solely based on one episode... so far...]
I have a list of favorite TV Shows. While it’s no secret that FLASHPOINT tops the list, the remaining Top Ten tend to blur together. My order of preference depends on what my mood is. Generally, you can always interest me in watching any of the following:
Once Upon a Time
The Waltons reruns
The West Wing reruns
Of course there’s many more. Anything on the Food Network. So You Think You Can Dance, Nat Geo programming…
But I’m especially fond of THE WEST WING. In its day, it set high standards for plot, character, directing, writing… it’s now one of the high bars that other shows aspire to reach: “Not since THE WEST WING has there been such a show…”
And now, finally, six years later, there’s a show that just might be on par. And the best part? It too is a creation of Aaron Sorkin.
The commercial caught my eye: dramatic storyline, well-known actors. And then. This:
From Aaron Sorkin,
Creator of The West Wing
I’m a huge fan of Aaron Sorkin. His scripts are well-developed. He treats his audience with intelligence and respect. His characters have real struggles. And not everything is neatly finished.
Needless to say, I had to find a way to watch the show, even though I don’s subscribe to HBO.
Enter the internet. The 72+ minute pilot was available online at HBO.com.
I’m not one to stream shows through the internet. I find it to be tedious and halting.
But after seeing several previews for THE NEWSROOM, I decided to take a chance. I was fairly skeptical as I had to register at HBO.com, confirming I’m over the age of 18 and legal to watch “MA”-rated shows. MA stands for Mature Audience. I was concerned what the show might include. After all, HBO isn’t often known for their late-night, uh, family friendly films, shall we say…
I was fully prepared to stop the show at any moment. I’m not one to go in for naked bodies and illicit acts just for the sake of a storyline. I held my breath for nearly 73 minutes and found myself gasping again when it was over.
The pilot episode was fairly predictable. In true Aaron Sorkin fashion, he introduces the characters through resolving an event. Some characters come late to the party but boy! are we glad they showed up! Because in Act II, the main crisis arrives. This is where we get to see the troops in action. And in Act III, the pilot episode wraps up but not too neatly. Sorkin leaves us wanting more and waiting with baited breath for the next Big News Story… and the soap opera that goes on behind the scenes.
Jeff Daniels sets the stage as beleaguered news anchor man Will McAvoy who may or may not have had a meltdown which may or may not have resulted in his getting fired or in his staff quitting. Once that storyline is set, we are brought little by little into
where we meet the other characters. Through banter, conversation, and reports we learn the backstories and current struggles of nearly everyone involved. We see who has drive and who’s just along for the ride. And we see who might step up to the challenge of making Will the best news anchor, again.
The only reason for the MA rating was the occasional use of the F-word. I have to give kudos to Sorkin and the entire creative team here: They didn’t insert obligatory cuss words just to do so. Each blurt was strategically placed in conversation as a punctuation to a dramatic statement. That made it all the more useful and appreciated. I’m not a fan of the F-word in entertainment. But it does occasionally come out in moments of high stress in real life, and that’s how it was portrayed here.
I look forward to being drawn back into a new world created by Aaron Sorkin. His characters are always complex, thorough, and real. His stories are plausible. And even when it’s predictable, it’s always very, very enjoyable.
And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote!