Having won an Oscar for The Social Network, Aaron Sorkin could have taken his career in any direction. He chose however, to take it back to what made him a famous name in the first place – television.
His return to primetime entertainment was reason enough to be excited but his choice of subject matter only compounded the salivation amongst TV fanatics. Having crafted classic series ‘The West Wing’ out of the political world, Sorkin now sought to tackle journalism in ‘The Newsroom’.
The result? Well, it’s a mixed bag.
It is very much a series of two halves. One half is the kind of character-driven drama you would expect of the man and the other half is Sorkin very obviously lecturing about how he believes the world of journalism should work.
In some ways it’s noble of Sorkin to peddle his idealistic views about journalism to such a large audience but it doesn’t necessarily make a good TV show. He could probably write an entertaining script in his sleep however, so a compelling and involving television show still dwells in between the moralising moments.For every scene in which two characters verbally spar and their reclusive shells slowly unwrap, there’s another where it feels as though you’re listening to the ramblings of a highly-opinionated man with a lofty opinion of himself.
The script is as irritatingly clever (in a good way) as you’d expect and Sorkin’s cast largely do wonders with the pages handed to them. Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer and Sam Waterstone in particular dominate their scenes, but the younger cast members meander between endearing and irritating.
In particular there’s the apparently now mandatory will-they-won’t-they couple of Maggie (Alison Pill) and Jim Harper (John Gallagher Jr.) who is definitely not to be mixed up with famous one half of a will-they-won’t-they whole, Jim Halpert of America’s ‘The Office’. Plus one originality there Aaron!
Except, the show already has a will-they-won’t-they couple in Daniels’ Will McEvoy and Mortimer’s Mackenzie MacHale, so there’s a double whammy of inevitability about the whole show. Thankfully three out of four of the possible couples do their job splendidly and make proceedings slightly less annoying (sorry Gallagher Jr.).
A second series is more than welcome primarily because of the cast, but Sorkin needs to relax his ideals a little and not let them dominate his scripts.