Aaron Sorkin has returned to television after writing Charlie Wilson’s War, The Social Network, and Moneyball, all of which had major financial success in the box office. Now, Sorkin has decided to bring his talents to HBO in the form of his newest creation, Newsroom. The first episode is titled “We Just Decided To” and is more or less an answer to why Will McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, and his newly appointed news team have decided to change their formula. Under the disguised plan of the owner of the news network, Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston), and with Will’s new/former executive producer Mackenzie MacHale (Emily Mortimer), the “8 o’clock news” is going to do something that no 24/7 news network has done in a very long time–actually tell the news. The show starts with an event that completely changed Will’s public perception and coincidentally sparked this change within almost his entire news crew. Will broke out of his neutral shell, which all anchormen seemed forced to be in these days, and expressed his opinion for the first time in 3 years. He called Liberals losers and Conservatives idiots, all on national television after being asked a question by a student of Northwestern University. That event leads us into what has the potential to be an outstanding new series on HBO this summer.
Other than the name calling of Liberals and Conservatives, Will mostly states facts when asked what makes the United States the greatest country in the world. America is currently 7th in literacy, 27th in math, and 4th in exports. The only categories where we still rank as the highest are defense spending, number of adults who believe in angels, and we have the most people in prison per capita. Seeing Mackenzie in the audience, and her sign of “It’s Not, But It Can Be” is what triggers Will to say all these things and throughout the whole show they trick us (and I suppose Will as well) into thinking that Will never actually saw Mackenzie, he only thought that he did. When Will confesses this to Mackenzie as he’s getting in the elevator to head home for the evening he tells her, and we find out that she actually was in the audience! Will leaves before she gets a chance to show him, so now we’re left wondering. Will Mackenzie ever tell Will? If she does, how will Will react? I have a feeling it’s going to be one of those secrets that we, the audience, are completely aware of but Will won’t know.
I find it kind of interesting the way they used the BP oil crisis from 2 years ago as their first news story with the new team. Except it is kind of lame in a way that since it happened 2 years ago, of course this particular news team was able to find out everything that happened way before anyone else. Either way, it was still exciting to watch unfold. Watching the team put the broadcast together was a perfect way for us to get a feel of the characters that make up Newsroom. The chemistry between Will and Mackenzie is the heart of the show and holy crap is it amazing. Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer are absolutely perfect. As the show goes on you can legitimately feel the animosity shift to respect and then eventually settle with appreciation. It even seems that by the final scene in front of the elevator they have both missed one another and are happy to be working together again.
Charlie Skinner has to be my favorite character in this show so far. He is always drunk and proud of it. He is constantly saying hilarious things to Will, and is always there to deliver the advice he needs to hear at the perfect time. He makes a good point at the end about the good that Murrow and Cronkite were able to do for the general public and now Will has been given the perfect opportunity to achieve the same greatness. Charlie feels that is what Will is destined to do, and Charlie is going to do everything in his power to make sure that is exactly what happens. He loved what Will had to say at Northwestern, and that was why he hired Mackenzie in the first place. Maybe it was Charlie who told Mack to go to Northwestern in the first place? Who knows but it seems entirely possible.
I, for one, cannot wait to watch the rest of this season unfold. It holds a lot of promise and I absolutely loved this first episode. If the rest of the season is as good as this week’s show was, then we are in for another masterpiece thanks to genius that is Aaron Sorkin.