The Newsroom

My new favorite TV show is the Newsroom. It is the new hour length drama created by Aaron Sorkin for HBO. Sorkin is the writer/creator of The West Wing. He’s also written such movies as A Few Good Men and The Social Network.

The show is arrogant. In concept it is “Here is how to do TV news correctly.”. But so was West Wing. What makes it work are engaging characters, plots and issues worth carrying about and the fortune that the words in the script are almost as good as Sorkin thinks they are. A little bit of humor always helps it work too.

It is only a show in. It is too early to tell if the elements will work together. I hope they do.

But I have two issues with the high concepts of the show.

The first is that the show is set in the recent past – 2010. Not long ago, but enough that the tenor of the news is changing. I think talking about news now without talking about crowd sourced news is impossible. Tomorrow will be the first Sunday without an Edmonton Journal newspaper published. If you’re under 30 your news is likely coming from Twitter and blogs. Maybe even if you are older. The gives items that are either polished media releases or items with no provenance.

Fixing TV news is cool. But it seems the world has already moved past that. The biggest question is how to get news is today’s world.

The second issue is the show’s investiture in “Great Men.”. The show seems quite confident that the right person at the tiller can change the world. This hits against my own biases. Great people have an impact, but change only comes in groups. Tolstoy indoctrinated me I think. Looking to others to bring about positive change is only a dream. The only way to create change is to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself. If enough people do so, society can change. Not by the actions of great men, but the actions of normal men and women.

Still, so far I love the show. New episode coming up.


5 thoughts on “The Newsroom

  1. Suellen says:

    Most importantly, it’s after True Blood.

    Care to hazard a guess as to why it’s been pillared by the critics?

    • Apologies from grammar policing, it’s pilloried. 🙂

      In recompense I offer this storylet, I spent 30 minutes while writing this post trying to remember the word provenance. I knew it was a P word, but my searches like ‘word meaning history of art auction item’ all failed.

      30 minutes. I could have just said, no factual basis.

      Anyway. I have three reasons:

      1 the arrogance. They literally say they know how to fix it. If it is so easy why don’t others do it. It is easy to get it right with two years hindsight. The first scene of West Wing had them screwing up. The episode was about recovery. They were always over their heads. Not quite as arrogant. On the other hand, in the president’s first scene he said, “I am the Lord your God. You shall not have any other Gods before me.”. So it had its share of arrogance too.

      2. Apparently the slight ditziness and “I’ll take your abuse to get the job done” attitude of the female characters is read as misogyny. I’ve also heard it is worse in the next couple episodes. (a package of three or four has been given to critics)

      3. Politics in the states are so polarized the rant at the beginning IS heard as un-American.

  2. Suellen says:

    So Cpt. Gramer, now that we’re three episodes in, what do you think?

    • I’m only two. Will answer tonight.

    • Ooh, I didn’t notice you baiting me before, Adm. Nitpick.

      The show is capitalizing on its strengths. Each episode is tighter. The cast is more in synch. The writing gives clearer voices. It is funny and insightful and smart. I really liked episode three especially.

      It shows there is material to use beyond the pilot pitch.

      I’m very much looking forward to ep. four.

      Three flaws from least to greatest.

      1. Most of the supporting cast is voiceless. It is almost a play with six written parts and extras. Some more needs to be done there. Also see point three.

      2. The core of each episode is flawed. That hurts. Ep. 2 was about doing the news wrong. But it wasn’t. It was about the two lead women screwing it up because of their relationship neurosis. Also see point three. Ep. 3 was about the formula working and the consequences. But, it turned into The Daily Show. The Tea Party was the show focus, but even in that election it wasn’t the only political story. Even though I agree with the views expressed.

      3. The women. Maggie is a doormat. Literally she was slept on/f’d over. But I think she’ll show growth. Plus I think Pill is pretty cool. And Maggie is generally doing her job effectively. The biggest issue there is always setting up Jim to save her i hope she saves herself MacKenzie is a train wreck. What does she do? Greatest producer in America but we never see it. Will pitched the Tea Party. Mac can’t run a meeting, make a presentation or send an email. I want to see the ace producer. let’s see the person who was under fire in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      The guys have their own quirks, but none that impair their effectiveness.

      But I’m still enjoying the show. I want to see it get better each week.

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