I honestly thought that the time between Game of Thrones and Doctor Who would give me one of the worst television slumps this year. Yeah, Suits is a good show, but it's not great television. If some wise ass decides to interject that Doctor Who isn't great television, I have two words for you: Steven Moffat. Now shut up.
Of cours, the go-to channel for great television has always been HBO. So it's not surprising that The Newsroom seemingly came out of nowhere and literally told everybody, "Hi viewers, look at me! I'm great television! Suck it!" Well it didn't really come out of nowhere, as the show's creator Aaron Sorkin also created the critically-acclaimed The West Wing. But I've never seen that show. So there.
Anyway, here are three reasons why The Newsroom is the best television show this year.
1. Excellent production
Of course. It's HBO. I wouldn't expect anything less.
2. Excellent writing
Of course. It's Aaron Sorkin. I wouldn't expect anything less.
I discovered Aaron Sorkin's distinct writing style in The Social Network, and I thought that it was a great example of how to properly execute a non-linear narrative (in case you're wondering, Sorkin won an Oscar for that screenplay). Sorkin's specialty is non-linear multi-character stories, and if all those hyphens make it look complicated to you, that's because it is complicated. Pulling this off properly will show just how much a writer understands his craft, and almost always great writing is so seamless that ordinary non-writers wouldn't even notice it.
Aaron Sorkin also showed us that good cliffhangers don't always have to use the element of suspense. Sometimes all it takes is an interrupted story, like two gossip mongers chatting about this really big secret, and then something comes up so that one of them forgets to mention what the secret is.
while Jeff Daniels doesn't give a shit.
Another great thing about this show is the realism, setting the show within real, historical news events. No, I'm not talking about the realism inside a newsroom, because I've never been inside one. Some critics panned the show for its unrealism (spell check says "unrealism" isn't a word), and I'd have to agree on that one, especially when it comes to the dialogue. Sorkin's characters tend to be preachy and love going on long monologues that no one actually says in real life.
If you watch the opening credits, The Newsroom is billed as a show "created by Aaron Sorkin". But what you have to understand is that Sorkin played a more active role than a mere creator. He wrote every single episode himself. Now that, in my opinion, is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it's a great way to make sure the entire season stays true to the writer's vision. On the other hand, it didn't benefit from the diversity of storytelling style they could've had if only they brought in other writers. And to think that Sorkin had a writing team (which he did not fire, despite rumors that he did) for this show. I guess the other writers didn't exactly do writing, but more of research.
3. Excellent performances
Although the show has a lot of characters, not all of them are well fleshed out. Take Alison Pill's Maggie Jordan, who is so annoying that the only time I would listen to her blabbering would be if she stripped naked. And take Olivia Munn's Sloan Sabbith who, weird name notwithstanding, is so unbelievably clueless that she's the hottest woman on this show.
here's a sexy Olivia Munn pic.
The other performances, however, were excellent.
If you ask me to name as many Jeff Daniels movies as I can without using IMDb, I can only name one: Dumb and Dumber. And that was in 1994, when he also apparently starred in Speed (thanks, IMDb!). Hopefully, after watching this show, you'll both feel sorry for Jeff Daniels that his acting ability has been ignored all these years, and feel happy for him that he can hopefully get bigger projects after this role.
Emily Mortimer is too cute, and it's not just because of her accent. She has this really subtle way of flirting where her eyes smile while she bites her lip. If she was my ex, and she cheated on me, and she tries to win me back with her irresistibly adorable charm, I just might forgive her.
Sam Waterston might seem familiar to television viewers, especially if you watch Law & Order, where he plays Jack McCoy. In The Newsroom, he plays Charlie Skinner, who will be remembered for two things: 1) his cute, gravelly voice; and 2) his bow tie.
I guess you can say Jane Fonda has had some experience with running a network, after being married to the marijuana-smoking media mogul Ted Turner for ten years. All I can say is that I hope the girl I marry can grow old like Jane Fonda.
If you don't watch Skins and the only time you've seen Dev Patel act was in Slumdog Millionaire (because you refused to watch the Shyamalan-directed The Last Airbender), you'd think that his acting is kind of flat, without any dimension. But you're wrong. Dev Patel is a great actor. He's got great voice control, and he has a very emotive way of conveying facial expressions. And that is the reason why the writer of Will McAvoy's blog gets higher billing than the other cast members with "producer" in their title.
The other supporting cast members were also great. Terry Crews shows us that he can also do serious roles without showing his pecs. Chris Messina is so effective as Reese Lansing that you'd want to taunt him as a mama's boy just so he throws the first punch. David Krumholtz also gave a good performance as Will McAvoy's shrink, with practically no Jewish references aside from his father being named Abraham and him being named Jacob. But my favorite character in The Newsroom is this guy:
That's Herb Wilson, the deep-voiced king of the control booth, played by actor John F. Carpenter. Although I'm not quite sure he's really an actor. I think he's really a control booth technician in real life. I don't think he's even acting when he does the countdown before broadcast. I think he's been doing that for decades, and he can do it in his sleep.
One last thing: The Newsroom's IMDb page lists a certain actress called Chasty Ballesteros, who actually has Filipino blood. I don't recognize her from any of the episodes. But she is hot.
The Newsroom. USA. 2012.
Rating: Eight and a half out of ten.
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