The promos for The Newsroom made a lot of eyes roll. Sorkin's a fnatsatic writer especially when it comes to dialogues, but he's stuck with a disastrous case of white-page anxiety at the start of a new project. So for a TV pillot, he usually breaks the ice the same way. First you have the mediatic figure who has a very public meltdown; on Sports Night it was Peter Krause's disillusioned sports anchor, on The West Wing it was Bradley Whitford's DCOS taking a (well deserved) jab at the hypocrisy of right-wing religious fundamentalists, and on Studio 60 it was Judd Hirsh's Executive Producer sick of how TV has become little more than a constant marketing machine. Among a slew of familiar Sorkin, that one stands out themost because he's always the one to get the ball rolling. Here it's Jeff Daniels as a news anchor sick of narrating the sinking of a once great ship.
Familiar, yes. The dilalogues, rhytms, themes, impossibly liberal -and downright impossible- ideologies that we,re used to from all of Sorkin's media-centric TV shows are here. Does that make it bad? Absolutely not. The harsh criticisms received from early reviewers probably simple stems from Sorkin fatigue (of COURSE the central character is a huge sports fan, and I put my money on no more than 3 episodes before someone mentions Senator Stackhouse or Joshua Malina shows up) but the things he has to say, even though naive and overly liberal, are not wrong. And the debate he wishes to incur is NOT out of place.
The one strength in all this familiarity is to have gone with not only players new to the Sorkin-verse, but also ones little seen on television, making an old concept feel fresh. And even more kudos for letting the Brits -all 2 of them- keep their OWN accent; DEv Patel has a beautifully diffident character to play and his voice brings just the right pitch. Lesson learned: only Hugh Laurie can cross the pond and do a Yank accent. All others should keep their slang oir stay home. You here me, Stephen Moyer?!? Your painful attempt at a southern accent is NOT charming!
The Newsroom is a new show and has ways to go before being a GREAT one, like any news series looking for it's own voice. But I do feel that HBO is a great home for Aaron Sorkin to take is tried&tested TV formula and take it to the next step. As long as he's not imposed the usual HBO credo of The More Sex the Better. Don't get me wrong, I like sex as much as the next guy, but come on - you can't watch True Blood without being subjected with EVERY character's bare bum or sexual prowess a few times every show. WE KNOW you can do it on cable, get over it already!