The Newsroom (HBO) (Renewed) - Series Premiere: Synopsis, Review and Ratings
Ever since 2009, Aaron Sorkin (‘The West Wing’) has been working on a drama set behind the scenes of a cable news program. After lengthy negotiations, HBO picked up the pilot called ‘More As This Story Develops’ in January 2011 and decided last September to order the show to series under the new name ‘The Newsroom’. On June 24th, 2012, ‘The Newsroom’ premiered with an extended, 75-minute episode.
Update: After premiering to 2.1 million people, 'The Newsroom' added another 0.6 million in the encore episode later that night, totaling to 2.7 million viewers. While these numbers certainly are not as great as, for instance, the 'Game Of Thrones' premiere, they are still solid. At least, they're a lot better than last year's 'Luck' with 1.1 million. Since 'Luck' got renewed pretty fast, it's not a surprise that 'The Newsroom' is now getting a second season as well. That's just how HBO rolls.
Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels, ‘Dumb & Dumber’) is the anchor of the cable news show ‘News Night’. He is jokingly being called ‘the Jay Leno of news anchors’, for his unoffensive style of reporting and for avoiding to make political statements.
McAvoy finds himself in a position that is very familiar to those who have seen the preview for ‘The Newsroom’ (the video below), seated between two passionate debaters bickering with each other at a political forum at Northwestern University.
When students ask him questions about his personal opinions he tries his best to avoid revealing his cards by giving witty non-answers. But then, as the discussion leader tries to force McAvoy’s hand on why America is the greatest country in the world, his eye falls on this one woman in the crowd. She is holding up a notebook with the words “It’s not”.
After an internal debate on whether or not to say it, McAvoy gives a fiery speech about America not being the greatest country in the world at all. At least, not anymore. He does so with quite convincing arguments, actually. He finishes his speech with: “So if you ask what makes America the greatest country in the world, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Yosemite?”.
The video, of course, goes viral and when McAvoy returns from his vacation, a great deal of the staff have left, including ‘News Night’s executive producer. Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston, ‘Law & Order’), the cable network president, has hired Mackenzie MacHale (Emily Mortimer, ‘Our Idiot Brother’) as the new executive producer. Later on, it turns out Will McAvoy and Mackenzie have a, probably quite extensive, history together.
McAvoy is not at all content with what is going on in his newsroom. While in a fight with both Charlie Skinner and Mackenzie, the breaking news of the explosion and fire on the oil platform Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico comes in, revealing that the episode took place on April 20th, 2010. Now, there is no time left to fight, because the crew wants to do an hour long special about the disaster.
In the mean time, new alliances and even a potential love triangle have formed on the floor of the newsroom, though none of the characters have been explored very much during the pilot episode. For now, the only character with any depth is the quite annoying intern-turned-assistant-turned-associate-producer, and center of the love triangle, Maggie (Alison Pill, ‘Midnight in Paris’), who is probably there in the first place to bring some lightness to the show.
Overall, ‘The Newsroom’ is a real Aaron Sorkin show, with his characteristical rapid dialogues and extensive monologues present throughout the episode, so if you liked ‘The West Wing’, you’ll definitely like ‘The Newsroom’. In subsequent episodes, I hope the show will give it’s main characters some more depth, because that is the only thing that is really lacking for now.
A great potential danger for ‘The Newsroom’ is that it turns out into a political debate, and that people will stop watching because they don’t agree with the aspects of the news that the show is presenting. ‘The Newsroom’ will have to be very careful with that, for instance by countering McAvoy’s views with some other opinions.
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