Monday, June 25, 2012

HBO's The Newsroom

Last night I watched the first episode of Aaron Sorkin's new show The Newsroom on HBO. I have to confess that I have never seen Sports Night or Studio 60 and have watched about half an hour total of The West Wing. However, I'm aware that Sorkin is respected and observed by a lot of other writers. Hold on, I've seen most of the films he wrote, so I guess I'm not completely ignorant of his work.

Screen capture yoinked from here.
What drew me to the series was the trailer that featured Jeff Daniels' character ripping a college student about why America is NOT the greatest country in the world. That's probably the most powerful moment in the entire pilot, though. However, I'm going to continue watching for at least a few more episodes because my favorite line of the pilot was Sam Waterston shouting about being a Marine and that he'd beat the shit out of another character. Finally, D.A. McCoy gets to cut loose.

Daniels looks pained throughout the majority of the episode and his staff are wary of him, even when he attempts to be apologetic for being a controlling SOB, though it's far from heartfelt. The arguments that Sorkin lays out in the script are the kinds of things that people are always whining about but that no one does anything to fix. The delivery of the arguments is also forced and pat, the kind of thing that appears to be a setup just so that the writer can make the counter argument that he wants to and thus win the battle. I know this because it's the sort of thing I have tended to do in my own writing and from someone like Sorkin, I'd expect better.

This isn't to say that the show is bad. It's not. I'm telling you that I'm not impressed with Sorkin as a writer like some folks are. I think David Milch is a better TV writer, perhaps just as pretentious but at least he hides it better. There's something to be said for being unapologetic, though. At least there's a show on TV that's saying that America can be better.

Actually a character said that and reiterated it.

Perhaps that's indicative of where America is right now, that the populace has to be beaten over the head with a message until it takes. That the show features a Republican who's dissatisfied with the state of the News in America may be the unique aspect that attracts viewers. It may also be the deathknell.

Look, if liberals take a minute and listen to the Republican point of view and conservatives be quiet and consider the other side's arguments, a compromise can be reached.

Sorry, I drifted off into fantasy there. That'll never happen.

And that may be the point of The Newsroom after all. We don't listen any more, we don't hear. Isn't it time we did?