Ringmaster Sorkin cracks the political wit
- Last Updated: 12:21 AM, June 20, 2012
- Posted: 10:19 PM, June 19, 2012
Sunday night at 10 on HBO
Newsman Will McAvoy is a weightless anchor, a man of convictions without strength who lives a life of intellectual ambiguity.
As the evening news anchor of ACN’s “News Night,” his job of delivering news has so devolved into non-offensive, ratings-driven happy talk that he is nicknamed “Leno.”
Welcome to “The Newsroom,” HBO’s new series starring Jeff Daniels as Will and Emily Mortimer as MacKenzie McHale, Will’s ex, and executive producer.
The series opens with Will and two loudmouth talking heads debating the state of the country at a news forum.
When Will is pressed for answers, he throws out cliches until a bone-head blonde asks him what it is that makes America the greatest country in the world.
Hallucinating that the long-lost MacKenzie is in the audience egging him on to say the right thing for once, right-wing Will goes on a tirade saying that no, the United States is no longer the greatest country in the world! We have, he says, become a country where intelligence is no longer respected, where our goods are produced overseas and where truth is compromised.
This from a guy who has spent a career climbing the corporate ladder of mediocrity.
As luck would have it, MacKenzie has returned from the war, where she’s been fighting the good fight for journalism and getting banged up in the process.
Not only that, but spurred on by Will’s outburst, which has cast him in the horrible light of truth, MacKenzie’s been hired by ACN’s kindly, bow-tie-wearing news director (there is no such thing in the real world), Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston), to revamp Will’s show.
Welcome to Aaron Sorkin’s new series for HBO, an earnest, if idealized, look at a nightly news show.
The cast is first rate, as is the opening episode when the anchor rediscovers his moral anchor.
We meet Will again three weeks after an enforced vacation following his outburst. But when he returns, he finds that most of his staff has gone over to the 10 p.m. news.
His staff includes his exec producer, Don Keefer (Thomas Sadowski) and his sort-of girlfriend, newbie Margaret Jordan (Alison Pill).
Margaret, Will’s assistant, is one of the only ones who has not migrated to the other news show because, it turns out, they don’t believe in Will any longer.
Enter MacKenzie, who brings over her own producer, Jim Harper (John Gallagher Jr.), a young guy who was with her in Afghanistan and took a “bullet to the ass” for his efforts.
Despite Will being a news anchor, he is insanely opinionated once he opens that box, and we hear Sorkin’s tirades through Will on everything and anything with some romance and corporate intrigue thrown in.
Ironically, to mollify and increase ratings by giving everybody something, Sorkin delivers his left-wing thoughts through a right-wing anchor.
“Newsroom” is both entertaining and irritating. The info is important and good, but the quipping banter with which it’s delivered, isn’t.
News junkies will be hooked.