Last night, The Newsroom premiered on HBO, and it was everything it should have been. “We Just Decided To” focused on the formation of a new news team, along with the BP Oil Spill of 2010. Thanks to the dedicated cast and the almighty Aaron Sorkin, this could be the most powerful show of the summer season. If you skip this one, you’ll be missing out.
- Director: Greg Mottola
- Writer: Aaron Sorkin
- Cast: Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher, Jr., Alison Pill, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Thomas Sadoski, Sam Waterston, Jane Fonda
Episode Title: “We Just Decided To”
Following an outburst at a university panel, Will McAvoy returns to work at his cable news show to discover most of his staff has left. Furthermore, his boss has hired his former girlfriend to be his new executive producer. Before the sparse team can decide whether or not to stay together, a serious news story breaks.
- That Speech: Starting the show with a poignant speech explaining why America is no longer the best country in the world was a bold move. The Newsroom began by asserting its need to be the kind of show that‘s unafraid to offend the delicate sensibilities of a few to ensure a quality program. It also means they’ve set a high standard for themselves, one that they now have to meet each week.
- The Cast: Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Thomas Sadoski, and Sam Waterson have already established themselves as engaging actors. Daniels seems to be built for the abrasive and wordy speeches Sorkin usually turns out. Waterson brought all the charisma fans remember from his years as Jack McCoy on Law and Order. Sadoski found a way to make viewers invested in his sleaze ball character, and Mortimer made us fall in love in a matter of moments. John Gallagher, Jr. showed promise, and although Dev Patel and Alison Pill have yet to distinguish themselves, hopes are high.
- The Sorkin of it All: Everything about this episode screams Aaron Sorkin, and right now that’s what’s making it work. It had the heavily worded dialogue he’s famous for, along with two slow burning relationships and the fast-paced environment also known as a Sorkin staple. While these things could be attributed to the failure of his show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, they’ve been key in every one of his successes. As long as they’re used correctly in The Newsroom, the show can go from a great start to a great run.
- Jesse Eisenberg: After his success with Sorkin’s wonderfully written The Social Network it’s no surprise that he’d lend his voice to the series premiere. His voiceover was brief, but just hearing his voice tickled your fancy.
- Partisan Politics: For any show that deals directly with government, it’s only a matter of time before the episodes lean to the left or to the right. Since McAvoy is lampooned for never sharing his opinion, it would be odd if he didn’t pick a side at some point. But it’s possible that his opinions (or the show’s leanings) could chase away some viewers. Let’s not forget that the show seems to be employing Law and Order’s technique of using stories ripped from the headlines. All of this could spell disaster, or it could make for a strong victory. It’s too soon to tell where The Newsroom’s fate lies.
The 75-minute episode was a tad long, but it had very few lagging moments. Sorkin’s writing has a way of romanticizing politics that has nothing to do with glossing over the dirtier aspects of the business. His romance is one that encapsulates the viewer, wrapping them up in the comforting belief that somewhere out there, someone still wants to do right by the American people. Add that to their overly talented and passionate cast and you have a pretty excellent series premiere.
The Newsroom airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on HBO.
What did you think of the episode?