Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Newsroom Retrospective

The first season of The Newsroom is over. HBO, being who they are, immediately greenlighted a second season after the premiere of the first episode, so we will get a second season. So let's begin with what season 1 got wrong.

The focus on the TEA Party movement: The news media skews Democratic. But Sorkin's Will McAvoy constantly reminds his colleagues, News Night's viewers, and us that he's a Republican. But not those crazy TEA movement American Taliban. An old school Republican. But nary a Democrat is mentioned in The Newsroom except for President Obama, and only in passing.

If Sorkin wants to maintain the fiction that McAvoy is indeed a Republican, he should at least address the White House and the Senate (both controlled by the Democrats) and criticize them with at least a tenth of the rancor he had for the TEA movement.

Too many characters:  Will, Mckenzie, the old news chief guy (forgot his name, too lazy to look it up), Neal, Jim, Maggie, Maggie's roommate, Don, Sloan, Leona Lansing, Leona Lansing's obnoxious son, Will's shrink, Will's bodyguard, tabloid writer chick, NSA guy, the black guy and blonde girl that also work in the Newsroom.

All of these characters had multiple lines in multiple episodes. And it looks like they're adding that clueless blonde "sorority girl" Camelot kid to replace nutty NSA guy who offed himself. There are too many characters and too many relationships (romantic, platonic, and professional) to keep track of. The narrative keeps getting bogged down.

That being said, they still got some things right:

Will McAvoy: He's simply an entertaining and compelling protagonist. The Newsroom is at its best when he's on the screen.

The Writing: Going into the show, we all knew it would contain Sorkin's signature fast paced manic dialogue. While it can be distracting and excessive at times, it's still a net positive.

The Political Slant: If you're a Democrat. I'm betting most subscribers to HBO are. So if they have to be preachy, it's kinda obvious why they'd err on the Democratic side.

I'm looking forward to season 2. And, to be perfectly honest, if they just retread most of the narrative style of season 1, I'll still be happy to watch it because it's an entertaining middlebrow show. That being said, if it could cut down on what made season 1 less than awesome, I wouldn't complain.

1 comment:

  1. Very good points, Jay. I agree with most of them, but while I think Sorkin has been one of the country's best screen writers for over a decade, I think he was guilty of lazy writing often in the show, rehashing plot ideas, (the psychiatrist for Will, a plot device used on both Sports Night and West Wing." I there was also the "doing something badly" exchange in episode 2, I think, that had very similar dialogue to a Sports Night.

    Glad to have you back, look forward to future posts.