Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Newsroom (HBO)

As a kid I wanted to be newscaster. Movies like Broadcast News or Network - which showed the backstage machinations of a big time nightly newcast - have always facinated me. I am less of fan, however, of creator's Alan Sorkin's writing. I find his work to be too cute by half most of the time. This production has his fingerprints all over it and I can see myself burning out on this one like I have burned out on most other Sorkin projects like The West Wing. But until that happens, I am in for the ride.

Jeff Daniels is fantastic in all his Brian William/Bill O'Reilly glory - difficult, demanding and unpredictable. He actually succeeds because he has no fear of expressing his opinions. It's his only path to greatness if he can learn to trust those around him long enough to do a job he can do well. He has seen the light, so to speak, and is a man who made many mistakes in the past. He wasn't very nice to the people around him, he was a bully professionally and personally. The one moment when he stands up and tells the truth he gets crucified for it and has to rebuild his life and reputation almost from scratch. His 'Jerry Mcquire' moment cost him much. That doesn't mean, however, that he is completely alone.

Watching Sam Waterston at his hangdog best is a joy. He is a newsman from the old school who knows little about modern social network tools like blogs and Twitter but is smart enough to exploit those around him who do. He is old school who can remember the early days when TV news actually meant something to people and it had the power to address and change the ills of society. I think of Walter Cronkite and how his reporting from Vietnam changed public opinion about the war - leading to an early removal of America from South East Asia.

The first half hour drags a bit but when the story of the fire on the Deep Water Horizon drilling rig breaks, the show gets exciting, especially since we already know many of the details of that event. Watching a crack team of reporters sink their teeth into the early minutes of this emergency is thrilling stuff. I doubt it's always like that in a real newroom but GOD DAMN for ten minutes there life seemed to have a direction and a purpose. Professionals at the top of their game coming together to get the job done. Who cares if anyone likes someone else. Who cares about feelings. This is the NEWS and like in Baseball, their IS NO CRYING.

Since the story takes place two years ago, Sorkin has his pick of the major news stories that took place during that time to incorporate into his story arcs. It's a smart move that will make it easier to balance the real world with the fictional workplace that Sorkin is trying to create. I am hoping this technique leads to a deeper analysis of the times we all have just lived through. I was there. Hell, I blogged about everything that happened at the same time. DAMN YOU SORKIN!!! He's using my blog as source material. It's brilliantly evil, ya bastard.

No comments: