To write this piece, I used IMDB to cross check some information about the cast. I was surprised to find that The Newsroom is currently scoring 8.8 out of 10. To put this in perspective; The West Wing scores 8.7 and The Sopranos 9.5. If you follow this logic, it is up there with the greats and should be judged accordingly. We all have friends that, upon meeting their other halves, think ‘I don’t know what they see in them’, and that reflects the way I feel about ‘The Newsroom’ at the moment.
Admittedly, there are flashes of Aaron Sorkin’s brilliance in the writing; the trademark intelligent, fast paced dialogue, especially between Maggie (Alison Pill) and Jim (John Gallagher Jr.) in this second episode is fantastic, but is surrounded by some otherwise bog standard filler.
What annoys me most? The obvious nature of the plots and the relationships. This week Will (Jeff Daniels) and his ex, Mackenzie (Emily Mortimer) have a disagreement about the running order, and if they should concentrate on viewing figures, or reporting the News. It is so apparent that by the end of the hour Will will have come round to her way of thinking that it is hard to maintain interest.
There is no edge, no surprise, not even any mild peril to make us concerned for the characters, or their story arcs. Truly great TV Drama has an edge and takes risks, for example: Prime Suspect, The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men … they all have characters which can flip on you at any moment and take you somewhere you couldn’t have imagined.
As I have said previously, it has very high production values and, on the whole is well acted, but 8.8? Come on! Seriously?
This really feels like Sorkin’s guide to making safe TV. I will give it a couple more episodes, but I’m warning you Sorkin, if it doesn’t pull up its socks, I will go back to watching Spiral. And I mean it.