“I’m on a mission to civilize” Will McAvoy news anchor
Just a short word after seeing four episodes of HBO’s Newsroom. I know I’m playing catch up rather heavily, seeing as Stateside season two is already over, but I can’t help myself.
So what’s all the fuss about?
“Newsroom” is an HBO drama series wherein TV news anchor Will McAvoy, an emotionally damaged man, refinds, perhaps even redefines himself through the catharsis of caring about the news again. Will is portrayed rather brilliantly by Jeff Daniels, now very far removed from his “Dumb & Dumber” days.
Episode 1 starts with Will pressing the verbal self destruct button in a rant about the bankruptcy of the USA at a college get together. The general verbosity of the show is thus preshadowed. Creator Aaron Sorkin, for those who didn’t know this, loves speeches and dialogue in general. It’s not subtle but he does have a real knack for it.
The show follows actual news events and reconstructs the atmosphere of a newsroom very well, something I can attest to having worked in a newsroom, albeit one glued together with chewing gum, love and ambition rather than advertising millions.
This is a show with a strong romantic streak, full of references to an idealized golden era of broadcast journalism. These references are more often than not contained in longwinded speeches in which it is often unclear who the character is actually lecturing. It is at these moment that I feel the show loses momentum, brilliant as the monologues may be. As a budding screenwriter one is often taught to let dialogue come from within the characters rather than using them as mouthpieces of the writer’s opinion. Dare I even say: Aaron Sorkin take note? That would be brash….
However, so far, to me, this is the show’s only major flaw, and although significant, it is not a fatal one.
This is one daring show, as it is unashamedly intellectual. For those who have not followed current affairs, or the general political debate of the last – say – five years in the USA, the show will make little sense and be incredibly hard to follow. Wow, an actual TV series aimed at the upper percentile of viewers. The very storyline of the show mirrors that aim. The fictional news broadcasters set out to no longer pander to ratings but to restore the news to what it once was: bringing genuine information to the public. Or in the words of Will: “I am on a mission to civilize”.
As mentioned above the newsroom atmosphere is executed well, and that is in no part down to the strong ensemble cast. Special mention goes out to veteran Sam Waterston, who does a great job as TV exec Charlie Skinner, the embodiment of “better days of television” who oversees the resurrection of Will McAvoy and with him, real news.
What has really hooked me though, is the way each and every character has believable goals and ambitions and the fact that the human interactions are the true motor of the show, hiding mere plot elements very well. It is a show about people and I guess that’s what I really like.
But before this short review turns into an outright outpour of superlatives, let me say that after that opening rant in episode 1 it took me until the latter half of episode four to really get on board with this show. But now I’m on, I’m loathe to leave.
So, bring on the news!