So last week I was off on vacation. I return to you all refreshed and reinvigorated with news that a new TV show created and written by the genius, or so I purport, Aaron Sorkin has begun airing on HBO. So let’s get into this.
“We Just Decided To”
Will McAvoy, fresh off of letting the collegiate social enclave know that they know nothing about the world they live in, returns back to work from vacation (much like myself) to see his entire staff is off elsewhere. Without his consent while off in St. Lucia his boss, owner of the news network, has created a later news program to follow Will, Will’s EP (Don) has jumped ship to that show, and they’ve hired a new EP without his approval, who happens to be his ex-girlfriend from three years ago.
Let’s just say Will has a lot to figure out this week in the world of news. He has to manage to deal with his own personal issues with his new, over his dead body, Executive Producer and at the same time figure out how he’s going to string up his now former, how dare he, Executive Producer along with a lot of other staff shifts.
The episode does a great job of introducing us to all of the main players all at once. We understand that McAvoy is an all knowing educated journalist who’s compromised his opinions and true nature in order to win fame and fortune by playing the ratings game and thanks to the catalyst that is McKenzie (the ex-gf/new EP) has found a reason to bring out that belligerent and (as he puts it) affable character who’s not afraid to let people know that they need to know more than what comes in the funny papers. We see the ambition of McKenzie, and borderline crazy, who wants to produce a great news program and nothing less. We also get to meet who we can only assume will be the more important of the side characters including: Maggie, the assistant now turned Associate Producer, Don, the now former EP who looks to slowly be regretting his decision, Jim, the new Senior Producer and #2 to McKenzie who has her complete and utter trust, and Sam Watterson, the drunk owner of the news station who seems to either be in the middle of an early stroke or a late mid-life crisis.
The only caveat that I’d give this episode is that it suffered under the weight of actual news. Sorkin looks to engage us during the moments of having the show that Newsroom is centered around deliver real dated news. This week we learnt about the BP oil spill of 2010. While I have no aversion to watching old news I feel the show took too much time trying to educate us (the viewer that I can only assume actually knows about this story, especially due to how big it was then) rather than have more involved character interaction and development which is what will truly sell a show like this.
“News Night 2.0″
With the strong introduction of what McKenzie wants to make happen with McAvoy’s career we’re onto another show night and a new kind of news. However, due to a mess up by staff the show is sabotaged and falls into one of the worst showing of news that even FOX would be ashamed to air.
What I’m amazed at is how much this episode based itself on relationships and their conclusions or assumptions rather than anything else. For a show about facts and truths the episode spent a lot of its time delving into gossip. Which I guess is apt given the dross that the actual news broadcast depicted in this episode fell into.
We spend so long talking about Will and McKenzie’s relationship and what is supposedly what happened three years ago and why she had to run away to Afghanistan, or whatever hole she was in for the last while. We see Maggie have to deal with the backlash of her mistake with the acquisition and pre-interview with the lead guest of the show for the night which ends up in disaster due to a previous relationship and then we get the introduction of Sloane (Olivia Munn) who represents the neat packaging of brilliance in a way that the world will accept, with legs. It’s all about perception and the way that facts (or non-facts) are presented.
However, we see it in each case come to a head. From the reveal of Will and McKenzie to the broadcast with Will trying to not completely lose his head as he has to talk immigration policies with a beauty pageant contestant and a NRA member, both involve a man who’s usually somewhat reigned in (if you can believe that statement) completely out of control due to personal frustration.