Catch up with what happened in episode 2 of The Newsroom.
After the dust has settled following the frenzy of episode one, it’s time to start designing how the news programme is going to work. Mackenzie and Will set about educating the young staffers on what the decision-making process is for on-air news stories. Sorkin has also started to tease out the pair’s relationship as they try to shield their history from the rest of the office, naturally to disastrous effect.
At the minute, the script is nowhere near as witty as previous Sorkin creations, or even just other HBO efforts. The trademark alacrity of Sorkin’s writing is dangerously close to feeling plain unnecessary. At times it’s managed with some skill but there’s just too much of it. There are only a couple of slow, reflective scenes, the rest have about 250,000 words crammed into them. By the end of the episode, you might need a lie down or at least an oxygen mask.
In my first blog on the series I mentioned how it was admirable and necessary that Sorkin deal with real-life news stories. There is a risk to it all however. Since the events are still quite fresh in our minds, the dialogue comes across massively haughty; Sorkin is carving out characters that are oh-so-honest and trying their best to make a decent news programme, meanwhile he’s using them to slap us in the face with how news should be. What made The West Wing so watchable was that numerous storylines were fictional, which drew us into the spectacle as much as it reminded us of real-life political diplomacy. The Newsroom is treading risky territory between self-gratification and massive editorialising. Hopefully this is just Sorkin trying to create firm ground between audience and writer, indicating that he wants to be forceful in how he deals with the news events of the last few years. In this sense, Season 1 may well be just act as a foundation for better storytelling to come.