Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Coral Gables, FL
Re: Aaron Sorkin HBO show The Newsroom
Finally watched this on my flight from my old home (Buffalo) to my current one in Miami this morning. There's a lot of good to be said about the pilot, which features enough of Sorkin's crackling dialogue to be engaging at all times, but the speeches, save for the first one by Daniels at the Northwestern media thing-y (which I wish someone would actually say--closet I can think of is Jon Stewart ripping the fuck out of the guys on the long-since-cancelled "Crossfire" on CNN), are excessively earnest, as if the idealized speeches of The West Wing suddenly lost all sense of the real world.
I liked the buzz and frenetic energy of producing a live news show (something that The West Wing never really got credit for in its depiction of how fast the political scene moves, but also excelled at), but I can already see the problems seeping in. First and foremost, Daniels' character is an asshole, and even what I'm sure Sorkin intends, or sees, as his redeeming qualities (I'm going to ask questions that matter, dammit!) are overwhelmed by what's long been a problem with the characters that serve as Sorkin's onscreen stand-in, which is that way too often, they're smug, condescending, sexist, and patronizingly insufferable know-it-alls. Only the most blindly die-hard fan could say that Josh Lyman didn't suffer from most of the same problems throughout TWW's run. There's a way to be right and not be a dick about it, and all too often, Sorkin mistakenly equates arrogance with his concept of roguish charm and sarcastic wit, or some such argle bargle.
This is leaving aside the issues of stretching credibility, which I know Sorkin is already on the record as not giving a shit about. Frankly, I'm cool with that. There's never been a modern White House administration so absurdly earnest as the folks working for Jed Bartlett, so I can go along with that. On the other hand, Sorkin's decision to examine real life events, like the Deep Water Horizon disaster in the Gulf, rather than, say, stopping ethnic genocide in a fictional African country, or any other device he used on TWW, strikes me as way too convenient. If there was one thing I liked about South Park's "The Coon Trilogy", it was the character "Captain Hindsight", which also took on the Gulf disaster. South Park makes my point for me, which is to say that, after the fact, anyone can write up three soliloquies on why what was done was wrong, never mind that it's being done 2 years after the fact.
The only way I can tolerate that is the one glancing quote that the EP character gave about "informing the stupid", or something like that. There are plenty of people in this country who have a lot of misguided opinions and beliefs about a lot of things. Some of them may be HBO subscribers and could probably use a little refresher course on one thing or another. That, and I do believe that there is a difference between journalists being biased and them asking tough questions that this country seems to have forgotten about. Trouble is, that Sorkin doesn't stop with the tough questions and continues to interject his own views after the tough questions have been asked, which misses the point entirely.
Love Sam Waterston's work (Jack McCoy, drunker and shoutier than ever, which for some strange reason, is awesome in my book), as well as a few others, but if I can see the cracks this early on (too much Sorkin over the years; his patterns tend not to change too much), I don't see this being terribly good 4-5 episodes down the road.
It was his sled. It was his sled from when he was a kid. There, I just saved you two long, boob-less hours.