Monday, June 25, 2012

The Newsroom

When I found out Aaron Sorkin was writing a new TV show for HBO, I was pumped this excited.  Seasons 1-4 of The West Wing constitute maybe absolutely some of the most perfect television ever.  I've re-watched the series more times than I can count.  I have to buy a replacement disc for Season 2 because I wore out the disc with "Two Cathedrals" on it.  I spent a year of my Notre Dame education writing a thesis about it.  I'm a fan.

That being said, I went into The Newsroom with an open mind.  I heard a few lukewarm reviews today, so I watched the premiere tonight without expecting to love it.  I, however, thought it was fantastic and can't wait to see what they have in store for the rest of the season.  Say what you will about Aaron Sorkin as a person, but as a writer, he is simply brilliant.  Off to a good start on this one, Mr. Sorkin.

Here are a few of my thoughts in no particular order:

- The opening was a little preachy.  I watched the trailer no less than 12 times in the weeks leading up to the premiere, and I was pretty psyched about Jeff Daniels's rant culminating in "When you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don't know what the fuck you're talking about. Yosemite?" In the episode, though, this doesn't immediately cut to the West-Wing-esque opening credits.  Instead, he slows his roll a little bit and continues on, saying we used to be the greatest country in the world and still could be if we had an informed electorate and so on and so forth.  Ok, sure, this sets up the concept of the show: let's make the news great again.  And yes, Sorkin totally sells that idealistic Capra-corn and I eat that shit up for breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner.  But Daniels/Sorkin definitely speak with a rose-colored lenses view of American history, nostalgic for the "good old days," whenever those were.  Come on, Sorkin.  I expect more from you (not from him).

Jim Harper
And he tells his audience of college students that we're the worst period generation period ever period.  Rude.  Also, wrong.  Especially because his "senior producer" who saves his ass by the end of the episode is most definitely part of that generation.  He looks like he's 26.  And he's a senior producer.  And he has an anonymous, exclusive source for every piece of breaking news.  Not the worst. 

- The aforementioned Doogie Howser senior producer is named Jim Harper, and I'm gonna love this guy.  He's like Josh Lyman meets Jim Halpert meets Mark Lyons.  I know what you're thinking.  That's a lot of sexual heat.  But what can I say, it's HBO.

- Sam Waterston dropping f-bombs makes great TV.  Sam Waterston shouting at a grown man that he will kick the shit out of him, no matter how many protein bars he eats, makes excellent TV.  Sam Waterston putting on his jacket like this would make the best TV.  Take notes, Sorkin.

- Emily Mortimer is a B.O.S.S.  CJ Cregg was arguably the strong female character on The West Wing (barring guest characters like Amy Gardner) and certainly the only one that ended up in a true position of authority.  And even that was well after Sorkin had left the show, and she still wasn't the boss boss (she was promoted to Chief of Staff in the sixth season).  Sorkin is making progress, though..  Because even though Mortimer's week-to-week contract is in Daniels' hands, as his EP, he has to do what she says for one hour every day.  Baby steps, Sorkin.  Now let's work on easing up on the ladies-love-shopping jokes.

- Allison Pill is a gem.  On TWW, it took seven years for Donna Moss to get a promotion.  Pill got promoted twice in the first episode and Jeff Daniels learned her name.  Get it, girl.  Let Emily Mortimer take you shopping.  You've earned it.

- Dev Patel aka Neil aka Punjab aka the IT guy: Also a gem.  I hope he starts dating the President's daughter.  

- Can we make sure Oliver Platt gets a recurring guest role on this show?

- A big huzzah for the lack of clown music during the closing credits.  #TheWestWing'sOnlyFlaw.  But seriously, go to 0:39.  It's the boner killer of television scores.

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