Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Newsroom (2012-2014): A Short, Belated Review

In between binge-eating and binge-napping, Katie-Bar-The-Door and I spent our Thanksgiving holidays binge-watching Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom, a short-lived cable series now streaming as part of our Amazon Prime subscription.

Made for HBO, The Newsroom followed the ups-and-downs of a band of idealistic cable news reporters trying to put on a worthwhile show in an era characterized by insipid junk-news pandering. Jeff Daniels won an Emmy playing the face of the franchise, the grumpily affable Will McAvoy; Emily Mortimer played his ex-girlfriend-turned-producer; Sam Waterston was their boss.

The series also featured fine supporting performances from Oscar winners Jane Fonda and Marcia Gay Harden.

By and large, the critics hated the show — finding it preachy and pretentious — and in the 25 episodes that made up its three seasons, it never attracted a large enough audience to make anybody forget The Sopranos.

Katie and I, on the other hand, liked it — a lot.

It's not that we're devoted fans of Aaron Sorkin. Back in the day, we occasionally dipped into The West Wing without ever really carving out time for it, and what little we saw of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, we frankly despised.

This, though, we fell in love with.

Katie thought The Newsroom was a warm, witty drama that didn't overstay its welcome. She liked spending time with the characters, especially Olivia Munn's intellectually-brilliant, socially-clueless, hilariously-deadpan Sloan Sabbith.

Me, I saw it as a screwball comedy in the tradition of His Girl Friday and The Front Page — tales of bumbling reporters, puffed up with self-importance and seriously lacking in self-awareness, who somehow manage to get a quality newscast out on a daily basis. The comedy is punctuated by moments of dramatic relief — war, death, national crisis — but the show never strays far from its classical Hollywood roots when fast-talking actors like Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell wisecracked their way from scoop to scoop.

Absolutely nobody else read The Newsroom that way, but who are you going to believe, me or nobody's lying eyes?

Anyway, it's a freebie included with a subscription to Amazon Prime. If that's your streaming service of choice, check it out.