Sky Atlantic’s new HBO acquisition The Newsroom was so hyped up by the time it came to air last night, that expectations couldn’t have been higher. Allegedly, The Newsroom is to journalism what The West Wing was to politics. Indeed, its creator is Aaron Sorkin – writer of The West Wing and Hollywood blockbusters The Social Network and Moneyball. So did it live up to the hype?
Jeff Daniels stars as News Night anchor Will McAvoy. His political stance is clear from the opening scenes when, in an interview, he launches into a monologue about how America is no longer the best country in the world. For a change, an American TV show brings us a Republican with liberal views. It’s refreshing! This was a strong start for the series. However, things only went downhill from there.
We were then introduced to the rest of the production team, including former Skins actor Dev Patel as a blog writer and Alison Phil as the associate producer – who vaguely reminded me of Dawn in The Office. Will returns from enforced annual leave to find half of his team have left to work on a rival programme. As a result, he has a new executive producer, MacKenzie McHale. There was a glimmer of hope for my waning interest as Brit actress Emily Mortimer entered the mix. Her character is feisty and strong-minded – taking control of the TV studio in the last half of the episode. But then the light blew out as soon as I realised Will and MacKenzie were previously in a relationship. Clichéd, much?!
Although the pilot had moments of comedy, it certainly doesn’t compare to the likes of Veep, which hits you with laughs every minute of the half-hour episode. By the time this extended pilot had finished, I felt bogged down with weighty dialogue. I’ve heard the series gets better after the first few episodes but, to be honest, I don’t have the patience.
The Newsroom continues on Sky Atlantic on Tuesdays at 10pm.