I watched a screener of the first episode of the new HBO series The Newsroom last night – which startes screening in New Zealand on Monday 13th August (8.30pm – Soho, SkyTV; encores Sundays 9.30pm). It’s been created by Oscar and 4-time Emmy winner Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, The Social Network) and it follows a lead cable-news network anchor at a fictional (but seemingly realistic) ACN Network. Jeff Daniels plays the lead Will McAvoy – who is equal parts brilliant / asshole.
Episode one starts as McAvoy returns from vacation to find that his executive producer has left to take over the 10pm news, taking all his team with him; faced now with his network chief employing the amazing Emily Mortimer as MacKenzie McHale who, it seems, to have had some (bad) history with McAvoy.
Co-incidentally, (sure, perhaps a little too co-incidentally, but hey, this is a work of fiction, so deal with it) Emily’s producer Jim Harper, who comes with her, gets two lucky break phone calls to break the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; this scoop combined with the undeniable chemistry between MacKenzie and Will; leads to what seems to be a new career defining moment for the anchor.
It’s fast paced, smart and snappy – just like one might want to imagine that a good news show might really be like – and a far cry away from what so often gets read to us as news on network tv (really, another story about the soaring house prices in Auckland and three different stories about the weather? Again?). Episode one of The Newsroom was exciting and compelling and I can’t wait to watch more – it promises to be as unafraid and confrontational in it’s drama as the news show it’s portraying. It’s just sad that it’s a fictional news show and all we seem to get in non-fiction news hours is stories about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes splitting up. - Andrew Tidball