The Newsroom: Pilot/First Episode
I’d love to hear what you guys think of this. I’m still making my way through the episode, but I’ve caught glimpses of reviews and some critics are totally slamming it! As I mentioned in our Summer 2012 TV Guide, this show– above all other new premieres– was the one I most wanted to watch. I love me some Sorkin and I’m a bg fan of Jeff Daniels (who plays the lead, Will McAvoy). And apparently, I wasn’t alone. The last time HBO got ratings like this, it was for the premiere of Boardwalk Empire. But The New Yorker described it the show as a piece of “artificial intelligence” (although many good things were said too), and I think part of the critique suggests that The Newsroom is trying too hard to be too smart and lacks in the entertainment department as a result. The critically-acclaimed and well-respected news anchor Dan Rather, however, spoke out in support of the show. Check out excerpts from both reviews below and share your own mini (or full-blown) review in the comments!
An excerpt from Dan Rather‘s review of The Newsroom:
Sure, I’ve got my nits to pick with it; and, no, it’s not perfect. But there’s a lot to like in what Sorkin and his cast have done here. There is a newsroom authenticity to what’s presented and much that gets to the heart of modern American journalism’s problems.
There is a battle for the soul of the craft that goes on daily now in virtually every newsroom in the country. It’s a fight that matters, not just for journalists but for the country. It centers on whether news reporting is to be considered and practiced—to any significant degree, even a little—as a public service, in the public interest ,or is to exsist solely as just another money-making operation for owners of news outlets.
As the Newsroom character MacKenzie (Emily Mortimer) says, in challenging the anchorman Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) to be a crusader for quality journalism, “There is nothing more important in a democracy than a well-informed electorate. When there is no information or, much worse, wrong information, it can lead to calamitous decisions that clobber any attempts at vigorous debate.”
This is the battle being lost in almost every newsroom, in every place around the world. Ratings (or circulation), demographics, and profits rule. Any talk of the public interest or of doing quality journalism of integrity with guts is considered passé.
Sorkin and his team deserve full praise for bringing the issue to the screen and to a mass audience, and for doing it in an interesting and entertaining way. They’ve got the right mix of issues, relationships and humor—sometimes, oft-times, comedy. (Be advised: the dialogue is sharp and fast. You need to pay close attention and listen closely.)
Read the rest of the review here!
Here’s the excerpt from The New Yorker review… but don’t let it stop you from watching the first episode!
In “The Newsroom,” clever people take turns admiring one another. They sing arias of facts. They aim to remake television news: “This is a new show, and there are new rules,” a maverick executive producer announces, several times, in several ways. Their outrage is so inflamed that it amounts to a form of moral eczema—only it makes the viewer itch.
This is not to say that “The Newsroom” doesn’t score points now and then, if you share its politics. It starts effectively enough, with an homage to “Network” ’s galvanizing “I’m mad as hell” rant, as McAvoy, a blandly uncontroversial cable big shot whom everyone tauntingly calls Leno, is trapped on a journalism-school panel. When the moderator needles him into answering a question about why America is the greatest country on earth, he goes volcanic, ticking off the ways in which America is no such thing, then closing with a statement of hope, about the way things used to be. This speech goes viral, and his boss (Sam Waterston) and his producer, MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer), who’s also his ex-girlfriend, encourage him to create a purer news program, purged of any obsession with ratings and buzz.
Much of McAvoy’s diatribe is bona-fide baloney—false nostalgia for an America that never existed—but it is exciting to watch. And if you enjoyed “The West Wing,” Sorkin’s helpful counterprogramming to the Bush Administration, your ears will prick up. The pilot of “The Newsroom” is full of yelling and self-righteousness, but it’s got energy, just like “The West Wing,” Sorkin’s “Sports Night,” and his hit movie “The Social Network.” The second episode is more obviously stuffed with piety and syrup, although there’s one amusing segment, when McAvoy mocks some right-wing idiots. After that, “The Newsroom” gets so bad so quickly that I found my jaw dropping. The third episode is lousy (and devolves into lectures that are chopped into montages). The fourth episode is the worst. There are six to go.
Sorkin’s shows are the type that people who never watch TV are always claiming are better than anything else on TV. The shows’ air of defiant intellectual superiority is rarely backed up by what’s inside—all those Wagnerian rants, fingers poked in chests, palms slammed on desks, and so on.
Read the rest of the review here!
Now forget everything you just read and watch the episode with me!