Review: The Newsroom
Creator of The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin, has now brought us The Newsroom; a fast-paced drama following the journey of news anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), his researchers and his producers as they strive to restore News Night to the good-old-days when news was done well.
The cold open before the title credits introduces us to Will McAvoy as a panellist on a current affairs Q&A show. He is superbly charming but also brutally disillusioned with the state of his country. When asked by an audience member what makes the USA the best country in the world, he smoothly replies “The New York Jets”, but when pushed to give an honest answer his demeanour crumbles and he is fired up into giving a moving declaration of what America is not and what it could be.
It is this mentality that shapes the first episode of The Newsroom. Returning to work three weeks after “what happened” McAvoy finds his ratings down and his staff offices empty. In the midst of this chaos a woman from his past, MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer), turns up to smooth things over – or not. As the news of the BP oil spill begins to break, the depleted occupants of the news room must decide whether to stick to what they know and do news safely, or rely on the information of questionable sources in order to do news well.
Straining under the tense conflict of idealistic and corporate responsibilities, The Newsroom wasn’t half as dry and over-dramatic as I thought it might be. Rousing speeches and pretentious quotes there were many, but witty dialogue kept the mood fresh and entertaining.
Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel performed brilliantly as the warmly sarcastic and intellectually brilliant ‘blog-guy’ Neal Sampat. Sampat’s quiet confidence was contrasted and complimented by Maggie Jordan (Alison Pill), the intern, then personal assistant, then associate producer all in one episode! Nervous and desperate to please, Maggie is endearing and you find yourself rooting for her when her you’re-not-supposed-to-like-him boyfriend Don Keefer (Thomas Sadoski) informs her dryly that she isn’t allowed to do her research on Wikipedia.
Idealistic and entertaining, the first episode of The Newsroom seemed to find the perfect balance and I’m looking forward to seeing if the writers keep it up, and as Sky Atlantic's showings are only a few weeks behind the HBO air dates, it’s also nice that, for once, we're not a whole series behind!
The first episode of The Newsroom is repeated on Sunday at 9pm on Sky Atlantic, with the second episode being shown on Tuesday.