This Sunday, The Newsroom—the critically lambasted show from The West Wing’s Aaron Sorkin—returns for its sophomore season on HBO. Honestly, I never got past the fifth episode of the first season; each episode was so overwrought with unlikable characters and excruciatingly overwritten dialogue I couldn’t continue. But there’s hope for this season. In a recent Hollywood Reporter article, Sorkin admits to rewriting the beginning of the second season, thereby forcing reshoots. Let’s hope that he made the following changes:
The opening credits.
Get a new opener. People pointing, opening doors, talking on the phone and walking are not captivating shots. And how many times do we need to see the word “news” in one-and-a-half minutes? We get it. It’s a news show. If anything, this just feels like a derivative of The West Wing’s stately opening.
Never make an ad like this again. It makes me want to punch it in the throat.
The Sorkin character archetypes are found here: the passionate, brilliant men and the quirky, brilliant women. Everything is black or white and they are ruled by the adage “he who speaks loudest and longest is the most smartest.” But few, if any, of these characters are likable. The men are bloated, dismissive and predatory. The women are bleating, hysterical and shrewish. But poor Alison Pill—the tremendously talented young actress from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Milk—has it the worst. Her Maggie is an emotionally unstable mess who cries in almost every episode.
Enough with the real news: It is infuriating, not too mention pompous and preachy. Of course, with historical perspective of events occurring years ago, anyone could say how stories should have been covered.
Yet often these stories just don’t seem suitable as entertainment. Case in point: the fourth episode that involved the assassination attempt on Gabby Giffords. Well actually, it focused less on the happenings and more on whether her death should be announced on air (as other networks were doing). The audience knows that miraculously—thankfully—she lived. So whoop-de-flippin’-doo that a fictional news anchor on a fictional news program didn’t cave to the fictional network’s pressure to call it. (The insult to the injury? The asinine subplot where one character tries to prove Bigfoot’s existence.) The whole thing was neither appropriate nor interesting.
How I wish that instead of cherry-picking headlines or trying to insert this fictional program into actual reality, Sorkin would create stories that develop these characters and this fictional world. But as this upcoming season focusing on the election, this does not look likely. I’m sure he’s already working on the Boston bombings episode.
Did I mention the “Bigfoot is real” plotline?