Last month I underwent a digital detox, which really just involved staying off-line for three or so days and NOT DOING ANY WORK. I hid out at my mother’s and – for the first time in almost six months – I went to a DVD rental place and salivated over the array of TV on DVD on offer!
As I had minimal time (one full day and two part-days) and I thought my mum might have joined me, I chose something I’ve long wanted to see (and she would watch as well. I’m not sure I could say the same about Girls and Game of Thrones).
And I was v.happy with my choice as I easily inhaled season one of The Newsroom.
And… I just have to say, and I’m not saying this in a bad way, but The Newsroom is kinda just like The West Wing. Except it’s set in a TV newsroom. And with different people. But other than that – EXACTLY THE SAME.
The opening scene in the first episode is one of the best things I’ve ever seen on television. Indeed, the first few episodes had me gobsmacked. Aaron Sorkin does his thing with the characters’ dialogue: his style very recognisable for West Wing fans. In fact, topics could be changed and actors substituted and – like I said – The West Wing. The same but different. Which leads me to….
Why The Newsroom is like The West Wing and why it doesn’t matter
1. Friggin’ amazing dialogue. The Newsroom has been added to my shows which I watch with the English subtitles on as I. Don’t. Want. To. Miss. A. Word.
2. Amazing ensemble cast. Some players have bigger roles, but all actors and characters are pulling their weight and delivering Sorkin’s vision and cracking dialogue.
3. Sorkin hasn’t based the show around any ‘big’ names. None of the actors (including leads Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer) are hugely famous or astonishingly beautiful. Sure they’re attractive but they could be real people.
4. The characters are all scary smart.
5. We have the in-house romantic tension (like WW’s Donna / Josh relationship) we have Will / Mac tension; and the Jim / Maggie / Don / Sloan dynamic. I should also note throughout the The West Wing, Josh, Sam and CJ had their fair share of workplace relationships.
6. The characters may be scary smart, but few are socially savvy. Like Rob Lowe’s gorgeous and intelligent but socially and romantically inept Sam, the lovely Olivia Munn’s Sloan is a social car crash.
7. A therapist plays a pivotal role. Just as (WW’s) Josh struggled with his post-traumatic (shooting) stress; news anchor Will’s visits to a shrink provide insight and direction at a critical time in the storyline.
8. An episode called ‘Let Bartlet be Bartlet’ was a turning point in the president’s popularity in The West Wing. In The Newsroom, despite attempts to ‘be different’ and focus on delivering quality news, the players get distracted by ratings and start caving to popular demands before its own ‘LBBB’ moment sees the news crew again going for the jugular; bitch slapping dodgy politicians and political parties alike with little regard for public opinion.
9. The presence of the older statesman. In The West Wing, we had Chief of Staff, Leo McGarry. In The Newsroom we have the delightful hard-drinking and straight-talking Charlie Skinner, played brilliantly by Sam Waterston.
10. The storyline or plot reflects stuff happening in the real world.
Season one features 10 episodes and I basically watched them in one sitting. I cared about the characters. And I wanted to know what happened next.
For overseas viewers or those in Oz (with pay/cable television) season two has just commenced. Sadly I will have to wait (impatiently) for the show’s release on DVD!
Have you seen The Newsroom?
Are you a Sorkin fan?
Any other TV on DVD suggestions?