The Newsroom (HBO) (Renewed) - Series Premiere: Synopsis, Review and Ratings

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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.

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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.

What do you think about 'The Newsroom'?

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Comments 5 comments

Koshaugh profile image

Koshaugh 4 years ago from Indianapolis

As an Aaron Sorkin fan, I'd heard about this show and was thinking about watching it! Thanks for the review, this is helpful!


Robin Oatley profile image

Robin Oatley 4 years ago Author

If you're a fan of Aaron Sorkin's, I'm sure you'll like this one. Thanks for reading and commenting!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Robin, I will have to wait a while to see this but I think it sounds pretty interesting so I will definitely watch it when it comes out in the UK.

Many thanks for this useful review :o) Voted up.


Robin Oatley profile image

Robin Oatley 4 years ago Author

Hi Jools,

You're welcome. I think this is one of the better shows in the US this summer. Thanks for reading, commenting and voting!


Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

I've been so excited about The Newsroom I had to see if anyone had published a Hub about it. Thanks for being the first, and nice to meet you Robin!

You present a fine review. I along with my european colleagues were absolutely blown away by the opening scene. For a major powerhouse network like HBO to take on the true state of the union is not only remarkable, it's critical if we as a nation hope to recover.

As a Tv producer myself , I believe it's unprecedented . This is important stuff. Thanks!. I for one hope the trend continues. Frankly, I'm less interested in the love triangles. rated up!

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