Monday, November 24, 2014

Newsroom Review

At best, there's a love-hate relationship with Sorkin's stubborn insistence on sticking to the same tropes for every TV show of his: Characters that have three conversations at once talking 50 miles a minute, male protagonists with godlike egos, characters indistinct from each other in their level of intelligence and temperament, romantic relationships and flirting based on an intellect (even when the participants are friends with benefits), and the list goes on and on.

If people are still watching Sorkin, however, there are things to love: If there's anything that dramatically hooks the viewer, then the stakes and tension can get high. The dialogue itself can be grating but there can be something majestic at times about watching intelligent people passionately go toe-to-toe with each other.

But there's a big catch here: At some point, Sorkin will wear thin. Around "Studio 60," Sorkin's inflexibility with writing even a single character different from the standard Sorkin prototype reached a boiling point and he suffered backlash before moving on to success with films such as "Charlie Wilson's War", "Social Network", and "Moneyball" (one suspects the greater control allocated to directors in filmdom tempered Sorkin's voice).

In "The Newsroom," Sorkin essentially recreates "Studio 60" with a climate more appropriate--a cable news channel--to Sorkin's voice where characters don't look out of place walking around with a sense of urgency and spouting off facts about economics.

The end result hardly looks less ridiculous and at this point, I'm at my Sorkin saturation point. On the plus side, the cast is amazing and in the two episodes I watched (the first two of the third season), this show has the potential to launch some meaningful discourse on various news issues (which I'm a sucker for as a journalist). In one episode, for example, Maggie Jordan (Alison Pill) overhears a conversation by a government official and considers using it as breaking news. This is the kind of ethical dilemma that one hopes the public actively thinks about in order to appreciate the news.

However, as previously mentioned, there's so little differentiation between them. And it's a shame because that's all I'd need to consider the show watchable. Throw in a janitor or someone walking around scratching his head and going "huh?" into the mix and that would do miles for this show.

What baffles me most is that if you make a list of some of the most interesting stars who I never would have guessed were available on the TV market-Olivia Munn, Alison Pill, Emily Mortimer, Jeff Daniels, Sam Waterson, Dev "Slumdog Millionaire" Patel-you could not do better than the "Newsrooom" cast and that's not even counting Jane freakin' Fonda, Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden, and 2 Broke Girls' Kat Denning doing double duty in guest star roles. I'm sure someone like Emily Kapnek or Greg Garcia could use these actors and they don't write such hackneyed dialogue.

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