The Newsroom Season 1 Episode 1 Recap – ‘We Just Decided To’
Aaron Sorkin’s new series on HBO, The Newsroom, has premiered lastnight. I was pretty curious to see how this turns out, especially after reading some mixed early reviews about the show. Although there were moments in which I thought that the tone is not clear, and other moments where I thought the whole thing was too chatty, or too naive, with horrible soundtrack, I must say I liked it most of the time – even if I’m not sure I liked the way Sorkin meant for me to like it.
The first episodeof the series, We Just Decided To, still felt too much like the preview for theshow most of the time. But I’ll keep watching it for the time being – and my review follows…
What just happened (episode summary): Will McAvoy is assigned a new team for his news show, and he’s not happy with it. Especially since his new EP, Mackenzie MacHale, is his ex-girlfriend. When the oil in the gulf explodes, the new team beats the challenge.
How it happened (the chatty TV critic): Will McAvoy (played by Jeff Daniels), is the host of a news show, and is known as ‘a man with no opinion’, Jay-Leno-style. But when he thinks he sees his ex-girlfriend Mackenzie MacHale (Emily Mortimer) in the audience in a talk show he’s on, he loses it. Giving a bursting monologue on how America “is not the greatest country” (what is the American obsession with being “the most” of anything anyway? I thought of it while watching Girls‘ season finale last week – how Hannah said she was “the most afraid person” or something – and could this obsession be related to the “every man to himself” point of view which was discussed on this premiere episode of The Newsroom, as well as served the theme on Mad Men‘s fifth season?) – leaving everyone shocked and/or amused, McAvoy takes a two week vacation – and returns to a new reality.
His boss, Charlie Skinner (the wonderful Sam Waterston, that serves here as the “comic relief” in most of his scenes), has appointed him a new team – including a new EP which is his ex-girlfriend. She brings her team with her, and the first half of the episode Will fights his boss and her on the new plans they’ve made for him.
It started to feel slightly tedious, even before it got predictable. The performances helped to keep me engaged, that’s true, but besides that, up until the moment where the news alert blinked on the screen – I thought that The Newsroom needs more material to work with.
The supporting characters where good – but not as good as theyneeded to be, based on the mask the leadwas wearing. Jim Harper (played by John Gallagher, Jr) and Don Keefer (Thomas Sadoski) were OK, although I didn’t like the easy way in which they became the good vs. bad characters, let alone the fact that now they are both in a way interested inthe same girl – Maggie Jordan (Alison Pill) – which made me even more upset, since every female chrarcter on the show (to this moment) is someone’s love interest.
Does McAnzey buys the mask Will puts on? Because it seems so, based on the scene at the end of the episode, when she reminds him about the first time he met her parents, telling him ‘you probably don’t remember’, just to find out he remembers every detail of that evening. Or was this just her tactic to make him take off that mask for a second? Either way this last scene felt like a fake, and perhaps something like that can pass as half-reliable on the show’s first episode, but if The Newsroom has more such scenes – it’s going to be a major problem.
What are we left with: Will has a new TV show now, and so far it’s doing well.
But does he know the direction in which he’s going. Or in other words: Aaron Sorkin has a slot on HBO. But does he know what kind of ashow he’s tryingto give us? Am I supposed to be flattered by the way he’s dealing with old news (although sometimes still relevant), such as the oil story, seeing the show as more ‘real’? Is he trying to say something real? And why did I keep thinking about The Office while watching the scenes between Mackenzie, Maggie, Don nad Jim? Should Maggie be called Pam?
Episode Info: The episode aired June 24 on HBO. It was written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Greg Mottola.