From the creator of The West Wing Aaron Sorkin comes his latest foray into television drama with a biting, incisive and insightful look at the media machine from inside the heart of it. Set inside the team responsible for ‘News Night’ on the fictional Atlantis Cable News network, The Newsroom has borne its share of criticism through the US for being unrealistic and, at times, misogynistic. Sorkin let’s the show stand on its own two feet and respond – and respond it does. With each episode concentrating on a specific news story that forms part of the News Night program it’s not all hits and giggles. The script offers depth, pathos and intelligent characters and storylines unapologetically for the cast to work with.
After McAvoy’s outburst he learns his Executive Producer Don (Thomas Sadoski) is moving on to another show and is taking most of News Night’s staff with him. Head of News Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston) lumps Will with Mackenzie MacHale (Emily Mortimer) as a replacement and given the shared background of the new EP and he, Will isn’t happy. VERY unhappy. Like re-negotiating his contract unhappy.
The first episode sets a very high bar for the series as it unfolds. The somewhat casual pace of preparing the show running the first half pitted against the freneticism of putting the show to air, with details only coming to hand seconds before they’re delivered to air. The pacing reflects the life of a newsroom in a microcosm, squeezed into an hour. In typical Sorkin fashion the characters are all flawed yet aspirational, delivering pointed monologues sometimes seemingly as streams of consciousness.
The story continues to unfold as Will & Mackenzie seek to reinvent News Night as a program built on the facts, delivering actual news and to hell with the ratings. Which, understandably, doesn’t go down so well with the 44th Floor where the network executives hold court. The casting of Jane Fonda as one of these execs is brilliant, and her scenes with Charlie will leave viewers transfixed.
Will is continually challenged and recommitting himself to the new standard that he and Mackenzie are holding the staff and the show to. It’s by no means an easy road and it’s mesmerising to watch. While it gets dark through episode three the last 15 minutes of episode four are a sight to behold – the depths of what can be achieved with great writing and acting is incredible to watch. The Newsroom is must watch television drama at its finest.
The Newsroom – Mon 8:30pm, SoHo.