Monday, July 16, 2012

Review of "The Newsroom" Pilot Episode

I sit here, nearly breathless, after watching the pilot episode of The Newsroom, the new HBO series created by Aaron Sorkin. Simply put, Sorkin has smashed a titanic home run. The casting is outstanding; even without any of the usual brilliant Sorkin bullpen of actors (What? No Joshua Malina?). 

There was a tense, finely-honed edge to this pilot that I haven't seen anywhere since, well, The West Wing. (Studio 60 was very good, but not quite at this level). The combination of fictional characters driving real news stories will lend an air of credibility, and will provide plenty of opportunities to showcase the fallibility and humanity and maybe even real idealism of journalists.The chemistry between the Mackenzie MacHale and Will McAvoy is searing, I cannot wait to see their back story developed. You want to hate McAvoy, but somehow you can't. His encyclopedic, character-defying rant in the opening scene tells you who he really is; a flawed but good man at war with his own image. 

The show's production values are spotless, as you might expect from a well-budgeted affair. The underscore is rich, moving, viscous, and powerful. I think in terms of "getting it right" factually - having accurate behind the scenes portrayals of process and mechanics - it's not a documentary. It's fiction. It doesn't necessarily have to get it completely right. It only has to invite you into its world, and entertain you while you're there; and if it gets lucky, it can make you think, and make you feel. I don't mind dramatic shorthand on the technical set dressing, as long as the story is served. On those fronts, this battle is won. The show is taking some critical heat for borrowing from earlier Sorkin vehicles, for pontificating, for putting politics before character. None of these things even if true, bother me in the slightest. It was a magnificent show, I'm glad to see Sorkin hitting on all cylinders once again. It might be enough to make me have to get HBO to be able to see it. 

Watch it for yourself, tell me what you think!

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