In keeping with my stated policy regarding Patch reviews of television programs in movies I'll keep it short and sweet in discussing HBO/Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom."
I like it. A lot. Not only because I recognize many of the characters and scenarios and stuff that can and does happen when news organizations are poised and on deadline, but because the writing is good and real and topical -- and it makes you think. About the profession, about our approach to getting the news, about the state of the country as a whole, and what we care about as a people.
I believe that is Sorkin's intent. If so, mission accomplished.
Newsroom centers around a brilliant if somewhat eccentric nightly news anchor with a big network contract and ratings and something of a chip on his shoulder because of both. He agonizes over the substantial trappings of his "success" and wonders if the people watching him each night are being served -- or merely entertained. The crossover between news he (Jeff Daniels as former prosecutor, musician, and pot-smoking newsman Will McAvoy) intones for the masses and the virtually unknown stories he believes are criminally under-reported blurs, shifts, and blurs again.
The series is launched with this stream-of-consciousness rant (see attached video) during a panel discussion at Northwestern University during which Will succumbs to his inner desire to tell the truth and unnerves his corporate bosses in the process. He gathers a young, underpaid but energetic news team around him and goes to work jousting with and harpooning the powers that be, the day-to-day storytelling strung together by real events -- the Deepwater Horizon spill, the influence of the Koch brothers, the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, the killing of Osama bin Laden. But his altruism and successes at getting the nation the news it needs and "embarking on a campaign of civility" are muted by a dip in ratings and a backroom effort to have him fired.
Suffice to say it makes for interesting watching and you don't have to be a journalist, ex-journalist (more of the latter than the former these days) or news junkie to be drawn into Will's world. He has concerns about the future of his country and about some of the things going on inside it. He wants to get Americans the news they need to make informed decisions, but agonizes that they may not want to hear what he has to say -- and finds that his countrymen may have more interest in Casey Anthony's tattoo than who's funding the Tea Party and why.
That all of this is wrapped with and woven into plot lines dealing with the personal lives of equally dedicated, all-too-human beings wrestling with personal doubts and affairs of the heart makes The Newsroom a compelling hour of Sunday night television.
But remember to listen closely. Not all the best lines are set up and delivered in standard TV bombast. Newsroom makes you listen. Just like its anchorman.
Sign up to get Lamorinda Patch headlines and breaking news delivered straight to your inbox!