Let’s start this off by being brutally honest We totally love Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom which recently completed its second season and has just been renew for it’s third season on HBO, and we couldn’t be more excited. The series provides viewers with an inside look at the world of television journalism, featuring a fictitious cable news station (ACN: Atlantis Cable Newsr) and revolves around the network’s star anchorman, Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels). McAvoy is something of an odd duck character — both for Sorkin as an avowedly liberal writer, and among characters themselves — as he is a moderate Republican (yes, apparently they do exist).
Season One started off with his boss, Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston) arranging (in a most Machiavellian way) the return of McAvoy’s former Executive Producer (and former lover) MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) to Exec Produce McAvoy’s show. A situation he finds particularly annoying, because some time earlier he had learned that she was sleeping with her old boyfriend while still going out with him. Needless to say, he is still steamed over this and has determined to make Mac’s life as his EP a living Hell. Only that doesn’t play out so well as Mac seems to be the only person who can motivate and re-invigorate McAvoy to get back to actually doing the news.
As it turns out, McAvoy used to be a bang-up newsman only somewhere (right around the time that he broke up with Mac), he became more interested in being liked than in being right, and so he started playing thing a tad too close to the vest and coy for Skinner‘s tastes, which is why he determined to shake things up again (“Let’s get back to doing the news.”), which is precisely what McAvoy and his revived news team does during the first season. As all of the players are introduced we learn about the backgrounds of several key members of this brilliant ensemble cast including Jim Harper (John Gallagher Jr.) a Sr. producer, Maggie Jordan (Alison Pill) I junior producer, Don Keefer (Thomas Sadoski) McAvoy’s former EP who moves to EP the news hour the precedes McAvoy’s, Neal Sampat (Dev Patel) who runs the newsroom’s website, Sloan Sabbith (Olivia Munn) a financial analyst, among others.
While Season One was all about setting up the characters, Season Two was about knocking them down and showing their individual strength of character. Much of the arc of Season Two revolved around a story called clandestine military operation called Genoa in which the U.S. military was accused of using Saren gas on civilian in Iraq. As it turns out the story was false, but it was pursued with the vigor of a real story and then reported on byu the staff, only to have them forced to retract it 48 hours later and thus lose all of their credibility and nearly force the resignation of three of the main member of the newsroom staff.
A good deal about this TV show deals with the intersecting interpersonal lives of the newsroom crew and talent, which is also where a good deal of the show’s strength lies. Sorkin also put the show just a bit over a full year in the past in order that it will be able to effectively deal with real news stories with just a touch of historical perspective and social context. Which, needless to say works quite fine. As always, Sorkin’s dialogue and writing are whip smart and thoroughly engaging while his characters are funny, interesting and full of human foible, so much so that we are very excited to have been watching it, and are certainly looking forward to next season.
Robert J. Sodaro has been writing professionally for some 30+ years. He came of age not only watching TV, but reading comicbooks and going to the movies. Subscribe to receive regular articles and reviews about TV programs.