Before we enter the peak of the silly season of political commentary and blood sport leading to the November 2012 Presidential election, I thought it would be fun to comment on one of the new HBO dramatic series running on the cable giant's satellite feeds.
I am an unabashed fan of Aaron Sorkin as a television and screenplay writer. I like his style – I like his characters – and I enjoy his work. Aaron Sorkin was the creative force behind The West Wing – to me one of the premiere TV series of all time. Well, TV time – the last half century or so. For seven seasons from 1999 to 2006, The West Wing was excellence personified for dramatic television. (Sorkin left the show after the fourth season) He also wrote screenplays for major films to include A Few Good Men, The American President, Charley Wilson's War and The Social Network. Sorkin is noted for his fast paced, intellectual scripts.
This years Sorkin project on HBO is called The Newsroom and brings the Sorkin touch to the Cable News industry with a strong ensemble cast and scripts ripped from recent headlines. The cast includes Jeff Daniels as the News Anchor, Emily Mortimer as his executive producer (and former love interest), Sam Waterston as the head of the corporate news division and Jane Fonda as the corporate owner in a bit of irony for those who like that sort of thing (Fonda was the wife of CNN's Ted Turner).
The show has received mixed reviews but I like it. Maybe I can tell the difference between news and entertainment. Perhaps there is so much cross-over these days that I can accept the premise. I do not view The Newsroom as a high tech soap opera. I am interested in the characters as they are written and their successes and failures are interesting to me as a viewer. But I share the concern that current media journalism is a mix of hype, hyperbole, political agenda and competition for ratings. I wish we could do better.
The show's pilot episode opens with the news anchor, Will McAvoy (played by Jeff Daniels) appearing in a live talk panel addressing students at a university setting. The critics describe the scene as a meltdown worthy of the movie “Network” but I thought McAvoy was merely badgered by the moderator of the panel to say what he believed instead of what he thought his audience wanted to hear. When Will returns from a forced vacation he finds that a few things have changed in his working world and he becomes the news anchor we all might like to see. Four episodes down so far and six to go in the season. Full episodes are available on HBO on Demand and on You-Tube.com. I find the program to be entertaining, sometimes provocative and only occasionally over the top. It is great summertime TV and new episodes begin on Sunday night at 10p EDT.
The clip below is 4:48 minutes and is the talk panel segment from the pilot episode. (some rough language)
My source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YI7Oq8y-jXA