The Newsroom Season 1 (2013)

Finally started watching The Newsroom, just released on DVD/download. While I love Sorkin’s dialogue and its resonance with 40’s screwball comedies, he tends to stack the deck plot-wise. (Let’s criticize modern news organizations by using 20/20 hindsight to show how they SHOULD have covered the stories; of course, we’ll give our fictional reporters amazing, accurate and timely inside information…) Sorkin’s world-savers are invariably high-IQ northeastern white liberals like himself, which leaves reflective viewers the unpleasant choice of self-congratulation or embarassed disassociation.

Sports Night was an occasionally amazing show that had the benfit of appearing before Sorkin was revered (and before he revered himself.) The West Wing was incredible whenever Thomas Schlamme directed a Sorkin script, and that show’s success came less from serious examiniation of politics than from meticulously observed workplace dynamics. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip was almost unbearably dark (literally and thematically) and it’s probably underrated, although the second half of its only season is an embarassing flail in search of a ratings bump. The Newsroom is recognizably in the Sorkin tradition of all of the above, which is unfortunate because he tends to indulge himself at this point. HBO has allowed him to go from a 42-minute run time to 60+, and the extra room isn’t helpful. Curiously, Sorkin’s movie scripts have gone the opposite direction, from calculated bloviation (A Few Good Men) to concise observation (Charlie Wilson’s War, The Social Network).

Still, I had the pleasure of watching Sarah Ann catching the jokes and sitting on the edge of her seat cheering for Emily Mortimer’s character; best moment came as the end credits scrolled on the pilot and she whispered, “That was epic.” A crank and a budding fan – if my primary enjoyment was vicarious it was enough to make me look forward to the rest of the series.