It might seem odd that I’m reviewing this show after it’s first season finale. I should have wrote up a review much earlier. But The Newsroom came out of the gate a little rusty. It’s pilot wasn’t perfect and it had to find it’s sea legs. So while laziness does contribute a little to this, I also wanted to give the show a chance, and people watch TV after it’s aired anyway these days.
If you’ve been a fan of Sorkin’s other works, especially Sports Night and The West Wing, then you’ll find a lot of familiar territory covered here. Not only is it stylistically the same, but themes and plots are repeated. There’s quirky yet brilliant people, therapy, ex’s, socially awkward characters, stories told in flashback over the past few days, review of the way we hold debates, and many more. Some have criticized the show for this, but I feel it’s like coming home. I like Sorkin’s stylistic dialogue and plots and these characters quickly joined his many other beloved characters in my heart. And a lot of the things he’s repeating politics-wise really deserve to be repeated.
Another complaint one could level at The Newsroom is that Sorkin frequently uses his characters to preach at the audience. This isn’t new either. He’s always been doing this. And while I do find this a very valid criticism in that it’s pretty blatant in this instance, I still personally don’t mind it much.
One very controversial part of The Newsroom is that they didn’t create fictional events, the news covered is real things such as the oil spill in the Gulf, the Republican primaries, the economy, Bin Laden, and more. They cover these events with the opportunity of hindsight and a lot of people had issues with that. I wasn’t entirely sold on this idea at first either. Especially in the pilot, it’s almost groan worthy. But as the series progresses I felt this was actually a pretty good idea. We weren’t talking about hypotheticals, we were talking about real events that occurred in our world.
Like any other Sorkin show, it’s got a good balance of broad comedy within the confines of it’s drama. There are a lot more moments centered around personal romantic relationships, or at least it seems that way.
The performances are all brilliant. Some not so recognizable actors such as John Gallagher Jr. and Thomas Sadoski really shine. As does Dev Patel. Of course the big names like Daniels, Mortimer, and Waterston all do some really wonderful work as well. There are 2 big surprises here though. The first is Olivia Munn. Upon hearing that she is cast as a brilliant economic mind you might laugh, but she actually does quite a good job with the role. But the huge surprise is the real star of the show, Alison Pill. You might know her from a number of things, probably mostly Scott Pilgrim vs The World, but she literally steals the show here. Just takes over the whole thing. Her character is relatively minor in the dealings of the Newsroom, but her romantic life is quite the topic and she shines in every single scene she’s in. She deserves an Emmy for this role.
Overall The Newsroom is not for everyone. It’s opinionated, pointedly political, and unashamed of it. It’s highly stylized and I think it’s a great piece of television, as only the greatest of television makes you want to go out and act. I suggest you watch it either via HBO Go or On Demand, or on DVD once that’s available.