Review this tv show
Aug 8, 2013Four episodes into Season 2 and I'm sad to say that the show has become stale, boring, and lost its spark.
Sorkin is a brilliant process and thematic writer but he utterly stinks at creating interpersonal relationships and sexual tension. He stunk at it on West Wing and he stunk at it on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. In the former, thankfully, he had fellow writers to help with the "relationship" angle and the latter didn't last long enough for it to matter. Unfortunately with this season of The Newsroom, the relationships between Will and Mac, Jim and Maggie, and Sloan and Don have taken center stage and the writing has been horrendous. To give example, Hallie, Jim's pseudo-love interest while he hides away from Maggie and the ACN New York Office on the Romney campaign, offers the groanworthy line of, "I'm the rebound." (Aside, so uninspired is the writing that Hallie boasts regularly about being a Vassar grad; The actress who plays Hallie, Grace Gummer, is, in fact, a Vassar grad and Sorkin doesn't even attempt to give the character any more depth.)
In the original season of The Newsroom, the news and the process of reporting drove the story. It was the news of the day which allowed Mac, Will, and Charlie to become "renegades" in AWM. The actual news, despite being old, felt like a character in the story, much as the act of politics felt like a character in Sorkin's West Wing. In Season 2 however, the primary story is told, essentially, through the narrative of AWM lawyer Rebecca Halliday (played by Marcia Gay Harden). The news stories no longer drive the story forward and feel like ancillary issues that are just "getting in the way" of the fictional story of "Genoa". The character of Neal Sampat is a prime example of how this change is hurting the show. In season 1, Neal played several key roles while establishing himself in The Newsroom. Thus far, he's been used only as a "liason" to the Occupy Wall Street movement because he's a stereotypical 'tech savvy millennial' who saw the online OWS propaganda. Furthermore, his efforts were undermined by Sorkin's continued focus on the fictional "Genoa", forcing a contrived connection between Neal's OWS story and the overarching fictional story.
Also, one my BIGGEST gripes of the show from the first season still remains: Olivia Munn's character, Sloan Sabbath, simply does not need to exist and Munn's acting abilities bring down the cast as a whole. Her character's educational background is utterly unbelievable and Munn simply doesn't have the acting chops to pull off the character. Instead of coming across as an expert in economics she comes across as a grade-A airhead who is just reciting memorized script lines. Compare that to Martin Sheen's "President Bartlett", who was also a fictional economist but actually sounded the part. Sloan is also a completely redundant character. Her character flaws are the exact same as the character flaws in the other female leads (Mac and Maggie) and her love interest storyline is no different than those of Mac, Maggie, Will, Jim, and Don. If there is any doubt that Munn was included in the cast solely for sex appeal for the 18-34 year old demographic, the teaser for episode 5 (unaired at the time of writing this) should remove any doubt. In Episode 5's previews, Sloan's newest storyline involves a "revenge porn scandal" with softcore pornographic pictures posted on the internet. This story is only made possible by utilizing Munn's Playboy photoshoot and further undermines her attempts to portray a character that is an economics expert or career journalist.
To get back on track, Sorkin needs to bring in co-writers for the relationship angles, axe Sloan from the cast as the character's redundancy and lack of believable direction is wasting valuable writer time, and get back to letting news drive The Newsroom rather than trying to direct a fictional story or love triangle with actual news as props.… Collapse
Jul 30, 2013I really don't watch television to be patronized. Which leaves precious little to enjoy.
Sorkin has overseen some passable television, some of it excellent, but Season 2 of the Newsroom desperately needed to begin with more than a continuation of grating condescension, too-obvious plot patches (i.e. must ensure sexual tension between Maggie and Jim goes unresolved by sending one out on the Romney campaign and the other to Africa thereby extending their unrequited attraction so that now there's two in the show (oh and another looming with Sloan and Don) so that we're covered there), some blatant, telegraphed slapstick and a few quips.
The news is being forgotten. They've taken the news out of the Newsroom. There's an opportunity being missed to show another side to how our "news" stations have reported on important issues of the past few years, albeit with the complete opposite single eye and with a revisionist's pen. I know it has to be entertaining, but can it not be intelligently so? Or will that not sell what happened to the 'mission to civilize'?
Oh and finally, Neal Sampat's social media and internet geek/fanboy caricature makes me want to vomit. Seriously, I think I cry tears of blood each time his earnest little platitudes insult my cochlea.… Expand
Aug 19, 2013If Aaron Sorkin was looking for a way to make liberals look like pompous asses, he has succeeded. And as a liberal, any show which leaves me wincing and screaming obscenities at the television while theoretically reinforcing my own beliefs is a feat of great magnitude. I had hoped this show would improve from last season, but it seems to have gotten worse. If not for the love interest they all seem to have in one another, none of the regular female characters would even be missed if they were written out of the script. (Allison Pill cuts off all her hair after a contrived tragedy is about as deep as it gets.)
I audibly groan at the real-life events (Occupy Wall Street, bank crisis, as an example) that we are supposed to watch again, through the eyes of the PEOPLE WHO WOULD HAVE DONE THE RIGHT THING, oh, this ridiculous news channel. And this season, even more contrived b.s. with biological weapons being used on civilians in some far off country that everyone in America knows would never get put on the nightly news. There's a royal baby being born after all. Jane Fonda and Marcia Gay Harden are the only bright lights.… Expand
[The Newsroom] is much stronger and more solidly entertaining. [29 Jul 2013, p.37]
There's still a lot of craziness and rants designed to resonate with a certain demographic. But an air of if not humility then self-awareness pervades, softening everything it touches, even Will.
I wouldn't say season two of The Newsroom is a big improvement over season one, but the show's definitely more measured and confident--and now that we've accepted that certain tics, such as setting the stories in a recent, real past, aren't going away, it's easier to appreciate what Sorkin and company do well.