Watching TV used to be fun. Now it seems like there isn’t a damn thing worth watching. Unless you count Don Draper, which really is the only thing worth watching. Okay, Breaking Bad too…Very Unphotogenic and I have discussed this new show called Newsroom, maybe you have heard of it.
Express lane to the woodshed, or how I learned to hate this guy Sorkin.
JR: I never watched The West Wing. I didn’t have a TV in the ’90s. Call me crazy, I just couldn’t afford cable. Now I can, and this guy Sorkin is a hack. Wait, that’s not totally fair. The Social Network was fantastic, totally riveting, and I think that was the acting. The writing was taken from real events, so there might be something to my theory.
Sorkin writes incredibly earnest material for his actors to blather on about. Lots of it, long-winded and heavy on big words. He jams the script with dialogue that can only come out of an actor’s mouth, long speeches, heartfelt crusade-like hyperbole that sounds as if it were written for the actors, just for them. No one talks like that. No one. Sure it’s TV. It’s supposed to be dramatic. I get it. But The Newsroom? The only good thing on the show is Jeff “Flip” Daniels. That’s right. I invoked Terms of Endearment. His only other good role. Jeff Daniels is like a manager at Wendy’s who is really good at his job and has been there forever. But it’s Wendy’s. It’s not hard. If you said I had to eat someone’s vomit or shit, I’d stick with vomit because it was once food. That’s Jeff Daniels in this. And did Sam Waterston wander in from Law & Order or a Depends commercial?
What’s most painful about this show is probably how it insults me by rehashing something that already happened. The Deep Horizon Oil spill? Is that supposed to make riveting TV? I know, right, it takes place in the newsroom as the oil spill happens. Makes total sense now. Um, no, it doesn’t. This is just a huge ecological apocalypse being rehashed for money. Okay. Take all that out. All right, let’s look at this with a new jury. The talent. Not only does Sorkin steal a line from Michael Mann, (when Emily Mortimer gets Daniels all riled up about something incredibly forgettable, she says, “Are you warmed up now?” Pacino exchanged that line with Christopher Plummer in The Insider, almost the same exact scene. But we’ll give Aaron a flyer on that), he makes his characters insulting cliches. They actually insult the cliche. It’s horrifying. Dev Patel, I get it, he needs to work, but he’s playing a stereotype and then Daniels shits on him. But wait, in episode two Daniels helps him help an unemployed guy in Arizona. It’s so safe and boring. Nothing is at risk. This fucking bullshit happened so long ago it’s nearly forgotten, and it had the depth of a condom when it did happen.
The most unholy talent on this show is Alison Pill. She’s dreadful. I know, she’s the naive one. Pure as the driven snow. The earnest one. Even when she’s not on the screen, she is the worst thing on the show. Her lines are stiff, delivered in a kind of stuttering “I’m all fucking grown up, look at me” way. She reminds me of Natalie Wood in Rebel Without a Cause. To watch Pill makes my eyes bleed.Oh wait, Thomas Sadoski (the boyfriend who looks like he just came back from a Harley Davidson summit), he’s a turd. He’s supposed to be this arrogant douche producer that gets “one upped” by this new producer that Mortimer’s character hauls in from central casting, and I can’t find him on IMDb. Their battles over Pill’s character are so childish and stupid. How is this supposed to maintain a show? Is this B story? Or Z story? The show is no deeper that your average toilet, even after “Will McAvoy” takes a dump in it. When Daniels screams at Mortimer because she emailed everyone about their past relationship accidentally, which was breadcrumbed in at the start of episode two when she fucked up an email to everyone, I thought, “Oh right, this will come back at the end of the show,” and Aaron did not disappoint. Stop treating me like I’m an asshole. HBO, stick with the sick crazy shit on Girls and keep making your Saturday afternoon crap-fest melodramas about Ernest Overrated Hemingway, which by the way was 90 minutes too long. Nicole Kidman in drag, oh wait, that was old person makeup, sorry. The only HBO show about the NEWS that can stand to take a piss was Soderbergh’s K Street, where they took the week’s news and filmed the show around it, then aired it on Sunday nights. It was a thirty minute show with James Carville, Mary Matalin, John Slattery, Mary McCornack, and the genius Roger Guenveur Smith. It was like watching a group of really talented actors give a lesson on how to do a television show. But HBO cancelled it after one season because they’re so smart. I have one word for you – Carnivale. Remember, HBO, people are paying for this.
The show isn’t for everyone. Sometimes it feels like I’m getting a history lesson from some Ivy League-educated douchebag who just snorted his first bump of crystal meth. But you know what? It’s summer, and there’s NOTHING ELSE ON. Nothing. A starving person doesn’t turn down an overcooked steak. Sorkin is a gifted, Oscar-winning writer. All of that rapid-fire wit from The Social Network came directly from his brain. He knows how to make an interesting idea fascinating, and even though he hasn’t quite done that with The Newsroom yet, every episode (and there are plenty left) is a new opportunity.