I didn't think "The Newsroom" was a particularly good show last year.
But I stuck with it.
As a devoted junkie of Aaron Sorkin - the series' creator and showrunner, I made it where a lot of viewers didn't: past the pilot. There's no doubt that the pilot was carried by its opening scene, where Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) riffed about how America "wasn't the greatest country in the world, but it could be."
After that fantastic first episode, the show started sliding downward. The coverage of recent old news - be it the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the rise of the Tea Party or the death of Osama Bin Laden - was an intriguing angle, but it often ventured into news commentary rather than news coverage.
What seems like it would be morning headlines at Daily Kos or Talking Points Memo was airing weekly on Sunday evenings on HBO. And for an Aaron Sorkin show on a network that airs Bill Maher every Friday night, that shouldn't be a surprise. But Sorkin's re-telling on near-current events often came out preachy, even to those (like myself) who find themselves on the left side of the political spectrum.
The show was dynamic: it featured the news re-telling, the drama of running a cable news network, and the interpersonal relationships between the personalities who made up the network. Sam Waterston as news director Charlie Skinner stood out as a fantastic yet quirky.
The relationship drama between Will and his executive producer MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) was undoubtably Sorkin at its finest, but often needlessly complicated the main storyline.
Season 2's premiere, "First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All the Lawyers" aired Sunday night at 10 on HBO.
Each episode featured the news of the day, some relationship drama, and a bit of narrative thread. This year the narrative is prioritized - which is necessary for a show with this much weight - and the relationship and show-running drama plays second fiddle.
NewsNight is under legal fire for ACN running a story that appears to have alleged the U.S. military was involved in some wrongdoing in a mission called Operation Genoa and is being interviewed on the incident by a lawyer played by Marcia Gay Harden. The episode then flashes back to the sequence of events that led to the incident.
Jane Fonda returns as the head of the media conglomerate Atlantis World Media and has her work cut out for her, after McAvoy's comments about the Tea Party from Season 1 has resulted in serious consequences for her and the company.
The "sorority girl" from Season 1's premiere who asked Will the loaded question that started the rant-heard-all-over-YouTube has been hired as an intern, and the Maggie/Jim relationship drama was finally been integrated into the main storyline.
The show begins with a new take on the title theme, which is still very airy - par for the course for Sorkin, but with a more news-focused intro. I really how enjoyed how it spotlighted some of the more technical aspects of the show-within-a-show's news-gathering and the faster pace fit the show's direction better.
The show's choice of a soundtrack continues to be one its strongest points. MacKenzie calls Will while he listens to Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic," the show closes with The Who's "You Better, You Bet" and it was an episode last year that introduced this writer to Michael Franti & Spearhead's "The Sound of Sunshine."
The season premiere of HBO's "The Newsroom" provides a significant improvement over its first season run. However, Sorkin's known to have proclivity with his pilots - the real test for season 2 of The Newsroom will come as the season continues.
But as Showtime's "Ray Donovan" continues to disappoint and viewers are pining for "Mad Men," "Game of Thrones," "The Walking Dead" and "Breaking Bad" on Sunday evenings, does "The Newsroom" serve as a quality replacement? You better, you better, you bet.
- Sean Quinn
WOW. Coming in packing a punch from the first minute to the last, The Newsroom has delivered everything we’ve been waiting forever to see. Built through flashbacks, we see the ACN crew in the middle of a legal battle after making a horrible journalism decision.
What does this mean for the crew? It means that Will is, once again, at risk of losing everything. We remember that last season Will was taking on plenty of hate from calling the Tea Party the “American Taliban.” Taking on the heat, it seems that Will is once again in the crosshairs.
Neel is chasing the biggest story of 2011 before it was even a story: Occupy Wall Street. Will the occupiers give him an in? This may be Neel’s chance to make his mark, the kind of story that makes a career.
As far as love circles, Margret and Don have finally called it quits! Having been ratted out by her cousin, Margret had no words to explain her “I love Jim” speech caught on camera and posted to YouTube. This leaves Don free to pursue Sloan who tried to play it off as a “witty one liner”. We all know the sexual tension could be cut with a knife, but keep an eye out.
Where’s Jim? Jim, following Margret’s decision to pick Don over him, has decided to hop on the campaign trial and follow the Romney camp.
Overall, the first episode, while as entertaining as every episode before it, held very little in the realms of new developments. We’ve caught up from last season and confirmed all the rumors reported both here and elsewhere.
We have yet to see if Will and Mac will finally get together, whether Margret will be able to survive on her own or whether Don and Sloan will finally do what they should have been doing all along. We’ve seen the development of the Occupy movement and the beginnings of the election.
We look forward to seeing where else this season is going and how the characters deal with messing up as hugely as its been hinted.
- Melissa Figueroa