Hey TV.com, Should I Watch The Newsroom?

HBO wants to change the cable-news world and your thinking with its new drama The Newsroom, one of the most anticipated shows of the summer. I've seen the first four episodes, and I'll be your guide to help determine whether it's worth your time to tune in or not.


When do the long speeches and whip-smart back-and-forths start?

The Newsroom airs its first broadcast Sunday, June 24 at 10pm on HBO.


Which actors will be delivering these long speeches and whip-smart back-and-forths?

Jeff Daniels (yes, the guy who did this) stars as fed-up news anchor Will McAvoy, who launches a new cable-news show that sticks it to everyone (but mostly Republicans). British actress Emily Mortimer (Match Point) plays the new executive producer Mackenzie; Alison Pill (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) plays promoted intern Maggie; Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) is resident nerd Neal; stage vet John Gallagher, Jr. plays producer Jim; and Sam Waterston (Law & Order) plays the network's president. It's a kick-ass cast, for sure. Oh, and I guess I should mention Olivia Munn is in this, too.


Who is the wizard behind these long speeches and whip-smart back-and-forth?

Duh, who else could it be? Aaron Sorkin, the master of chit-chat and the man behind The West Wing, Sports Night, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and The Social Network. And his trademark grandstanding is all over this show. If you're familiar with Sorkin's work, you'll know what to expect, but take that expectation and multiply it by about ten. Sorkin created the show and wrote all four episodes I saw.


What are these long speeches and whip-smart back-and-forths all about?

The Newsroom follows McAvoy's transformation from a pushover cable-news anchor who's more interested in human interest stories and iPhone coverage to the kind of hard-nosed newsman that truth-seekers like Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite he used to be. After he blows up during a public talk, new behind-the-scenes are brought in to kick McAvoy's ass back into gear. And one of those ass-kickers just so happens to be his ex-flame. There's another aspect of the show that follows the interpersonal and mostly romantic entanglements of the workplace.


What kind of audience will appreciate these long speeches and whip-smart back-and-forths?

If you consider yourself a "red-stater," STAY AWAY AT ALL COSTS or you will throw empty beer cans at your TV all night long. Despite claiming to be at "the center" where the facts are, The Newsroom does go southpaw more often than not, taking shots at the Tea Party and Fox News more than it does MSNBC. Essentially, this is an HBO show for HBO subscribers: It's aimed at intelligent idealists who like a mix of big political buzz rinsed with soapy relationship bubbles.



What are the good things about these long speeches and whip-smart back-and-forths?

The frenetic pace of the newsroom is pretty awesome, and it looks like the show will be set consistently a year ago in order to tackle real-world news that's still fresh in our minds. Assuming this is a semi-real representation of how these places operate, seeing how the newsroom turns its gears is pretty fascinating. The cast is superb (Daniels is great), and Waterston's Charlie Skinner may be the best new character of the summer.


What are the bad things about these long speeches and whip-smart back-and-forths?

Everyone in Sorkin's world is the same. Super smart, super sassy, and super opinionated. This will work for some viewers, but for many it will grate like nails on a chalkboard. Where HBO's Girls was criticized for being full of characters who are overly white, The Newsroom should be criticized for being full of characters who are overly witty. Real life, this is not. Conversations between characters can be organized into two categories: preachy, long-winded mouthpieces for Sorkin's take on how you should live your life, and clumsy grade-school relationship banter. Those two types of chatting split reflect The Newsroom's dual shows, the interpersonal side and the mission-to-save-America side, and they're simultaneously at odds with each other and unable to stand on their own. The show also gives off the idea that it's too smart for you by making plenty of academic and esoteric references, when really, it just talks more than you and AT you. A lot of these problems are less prominent in the fourth episode (which bodes well for the rest of the season), but that episode also happens to be the least interesting and ridiculous of the quartet. And I never want to hear "I'm on a mission to civilize" again.


Should I watch these long speeches and whip-smart back-and-forths?

As much as the previous paragraph says "stay away," I heartily recommend you check out The Newsroom on your own. There are definitely moments that will make you roll your eyes so far back into your head that you'll be able to see behind you, but the series boasts a strong cast and some very, very good moments (the opening scene in the pilot is particularly noteworthy). It's just a matter if it's worth trudging through the rest of the show to get to the good stuff. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. To me the show is a letdown, but it's a letdown that has something–I can't quite put my finger on it–that makes me want to continue to watch.


Do you have a trailer full of these long speeches and whip-smart back-and-forths?

Right here!


What should I have on hand at my The Newsroom viewing party?

Very expensive Scotch, a very expensive cheese plate, and possibly a dictionary.


The Newsroom debuts Sunday, June 24 at 10pm on HBO.

Comments (60)
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I would recommend ignoring some of the comments, mostly red staters who feel offended out facts thrown at them. Its a good show, I loved studio 60 on sunset strip i must say its still one of my favorites but maybe it was a show before its time. I do believe the newsroom wont share the same fate. Its a good show to watch
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I really like the fact that not all American television programs think I'm stupid and need to be constantly entertained, don't get me wrong, I like being entertained, but I also like to be mooved and educated.

This show will be great, if it lives up to the pilot.
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Great - another show about condescending know-it-alls who have the morals of a field of turnips, making long-winded speeches about issues that they haven't LIVED through, or have any DESIRE to live through; don't truly UNDERSTAND nor feel a desire TO understand; and yet have this strange feeling that their Ivy League pseudo-educations gives them a natural right to pontificate on and take "higher ground" positions with, that are based on nothing more than facts that are less substantial than the solidity of molecules in interstellar space.



In other words ... "The West Wing 2.0"
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I'll watch for Sam Waterston alone.
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This show looks incredible, all the way from the casting choices to the look and feel of the trailer. The Newsroom is the type of show I generally like. Good review Tim, very in depth about what is good and what is bad. I am still eagerly anticipating this show. Tonight is the night and I can't wait to watch the pilot.
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I've been watching The West Wing on DVD for the first time, and am up to the 6th season. I will admit, I'm not all that into politics, so I'm probably not exactly the kind of person it was written for. That being said, I've come to the conclusion that I'd probably like it more if it had shorter seasons, like shows on HBO or cable networks. The show, as it is, can truly be something special. If I were to make a list of my 100 favorite episodes of all time, there are a good number of The West Wing episodes which I'd put in there. The writing can be very sharp, and the chose some truly wonderful actors who could really sell it (most notably Martin Sheen). However, the greatness of The West Wing often lies within episodes which deal with larger story arcs and strong character development. And, unfortunately, with the seasons being as long as they are, most of the seasons have several episodes which seem to try to stretch out the story, doing away with a lot of its strengths, and often leaving me bored. Granted, as I said, I'm not exactly into politics, and people who are may enjoy those episodes a lot more than I do, but I would much rather have seen the seasons get shortened, so that the majority of episodes could focus on the bigger story arcs and strong character development that I love so much. So, with all that being said, having a new show by Aaron Sorkin on HBO makes me very excited. Looks like I'll have another summer show to look forward to.
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I'll admit that even if this review was scathing, I'd probably still watch Newsroom. HBO just has a way with trailers. Also, I just love Jeff Daniels and I love poking fun at left wing/right wing news. I'm sure the combination of the two will be pretty amusing.
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Aaron Sorkin is too good when he's on to not give this show a shot for a while. The only fear is that the cable news setting will play to his worst instincts.
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I got Sports Night goosebumps watching the first ep. Someone call Josh Malina.
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i'll be checking this out. great cast.
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HBO has done a damn good job of making the show look interesting in the trailers, a "Network" for the new generation if you will, and I'll definitely be giving it the four episode test. And having never seen any of Sorkin's work -I know, shun me- I think I won't be jaded, as some of the commenters have been about the clichs in his shows, which honestly seem like the clichs of any show currently on air... I just want to sit back and get a tiny dose of reality after watching the ridiculousness that is "True Blood".
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This is MSNBC made into a procedural.
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Quiz: what sex is the person in the newsroom who can't tell the difference between Georgia the state and Georgia the nation? Three guesses & the first two don't count.
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Is this supposed to be a memory test, or do you really think it's hard to tell? (It's obviously not). If you meant it as the memory test, it's too easy.
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I'm not a fan of everyone talking and acting the exact same. That was my biggest problem with ABC's Scandal. Hopefully it's not to that degree.



Haven't seen Olivia Munn in ANY of the trailers so far. Is her role that unimportant?



I thought Studio 60's pilot episode was one of the best pilots I've ever seen. But they ran out of interesting things very quickly and the "tense" dramatic openers were suddenly about lame things like "Who's gonna hold the cue cards now that those guys are on strike?" Duh-duh-duuuuh. Even though he can be way too preachy (much like David E. Kelley), Sorkin's at his best when he can use the political arena as a backdrop for his stories.
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I read her character is based on Christine Romans. That's basically all I know about her so I'm guessing no. I saw her a bit in the first trailer they released for this.
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I think Olivia Munn's in the kitchen.
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I've never disliked a Sorkin show before...why start now?
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Also, I should mention that I won't be covering it regularly for TV.com, but Alex Navarro will. It's gonna be a fun ride, should be very polarizing for everyone. ARGUMENTS EVERYWHERE!
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the guy who used to with the website giantbomb?



if it is he is a god among men and i look forward towards his coverage
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Who the hell is that?
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What age is this show appropriate for?
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No nudity (in the first 4 eps), but a lot of bad words.
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With GoT gone and me being meh about Veep/Girls, I will tune in. Hopefully it'll keep me from canceling my HBO subscription until next year.
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Forgot to mention Boardwalk Empire. An HBO series that is def worth the investment.
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Ugh, I was so into this show until I read that the new producer meant to keep the main character in line is his ex, that is SUCH a cheap out and a blatant Sorkin move.



That said, I'd totally watch this if I wasn't a pauper who won't purchase HBO. I'll view it when it hits Netflix tho'.
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Notice how Sorkin's females are getting younger & his male leads are getting older?
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Felicity Hoffman and Emily Mortimer was/are approximately the same age in similar roles (both about 40 when they played the parts). I would expect the authoritative news anchor to be older than the hot shot sportscaster. Martin Sheen and Stockard Channing aren't exactly young? So what exactly is your point?
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Good thing I'm not an intelligent idealist! Now I don't have to watch this show!
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I liked the Canadian version of the same title (which I saw on PBS).
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I am most definitely a "red-stater" but I will be tuning into this no doubt. I love Aaron Sorkin and I've been ridiculously excited for this show since it was first announced. Let's just put political differences behind us and enjoy what looks to be a pretty well-made show! :)
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Hear here...
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And boys. And more boys. Old boys, young boys, boys with bow-ties, power-boys, nerd-boys, oh, and neurotic fumbling women in supportive roles throwing themselves at said boys. Sighhhh. Nothing's changed in Sorkin's writing since Danny and Jo.
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Thumbs up.
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Oh and just guess what he's writing next: the story of Steve Jobs. Shhhhhockerrr.
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Despite the review, I'll be watching. I love Sorkin. I even loved Studio 60. I can forgive alot for smart people doing interesting things.
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There's a good chance I wont necessarily like it, but I'm certainly going to give it a try.
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I AM the biggest fan of Aaron Sorkin. I can listen to his dialogue all day long. You can bet I'll be there. I feel that you, Tim dislike this show much in the way you dislike "Mad Men" (though for completely different reasons, as I expect them to be completely different shows). And yes, for anyone who loved "The West Wing", you will likely love this show.
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It's way different than my dislike for Mad Men. It's really the opposite of Mad Men. Mad Men quietly invites you in, Newsroom shoves you in.
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You may very well be right. I am saying this having not seen the show. It may be just my wish to get more of this dialogue on TV. I might be let down (though I rather wish that I won't be). To be completely fair, Aaron Sorkin IS one for the dialogue, and his ability to create a story has always been secondary. I've read articles where it's freely admitted that people would bring him stories to write the dialogue around on his TV shows. As much as that continued to give the dialogue that I love, that doesn't necessitate a good story (much as I might wish it would).
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Big fan of Sorkin, so yeah I'll be watching. This has been my personal most anticipated new show since last summer.
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Again, Sorkin can be good. But he can also be bad. It's very much his style though, but even more bombastic.
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good tv.com

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Just try to keep me away from this. Aaron is supreme and if this is anywhere near as good as The West Wing I'll be hooked. It's refreshing to have an intelligent political fictional show on tv that is focussed on issues, regardless of the politics.
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No pushing and shoving necessary, I'll be there too...
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This is a show for people who miss "The West Wing," and also for people who will miss Barack Obama when he is sent back to Chicago in November. The show will be a way for liberals to grieve over their landslide loss by cozying up to Will McAvoy and say, "Gee, if only ...." ... big sigh .... and then someone goes off on a long monologue or speech about some idealism that liberals are always chock full of, but never seem to connect with reality - which is where real people live, and use common sense, and try to be in a better place today than they were yesterday ....



So, if you didn't understand any of that, you're gonna love this show. The rest of us, however, will be thinking: "Wow - this thing is just liberals wishing the world recognized them for the intellectual giants that they are, and worship their decisions. BUT, after the last four years, 5 TRILLION dollars of debt, 1 TRILLION yearly deficits, and 9% unemployment - we've 'decided to go in a different direction.'"



Like ... heading back to work, feeding our families, not worrying about the next imperial move President Romney will make, or thinking about how Romney's Attorney General (whoever he or she is) is as much of a criminal as the people he's supposed to be protecting us and the country from ....



you know, stuff like that.



Enjoy the show ... us real people will be busy rebuilding the country from the messes left by people like Will McAvoy.
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Let's just cut the political flame war right now, please. I'm a "red stater" and I'll probably check it out - may have to go buy beer so I have cans to throw, because I enjoyed the back-and-forths of West Wing while detesting the political slant that Sorkin breathes.



Just focus on the show and leave the real-life political bitching off this site, please.
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Oh and sorry about mispelling deficit, does that make me a Mormon, us sorry, Moron?

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Well ain't you just too cool for school. And I'm sure that President Romney the Mormon dog lover won't be a problem. And so what if we abolish the seperation of church and state, we can always just kill ourselves. What with knowing by then for sure that Heaven does exist and their deficet is way down...
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You got problems with religion, and an obvious disdain for believers - that's cool. This is America, and that's what we do - everybody gets a seat at the table, and everybody voices their opinion. It's really the only place on the planet; except for maybe Britain, Israel, Canada, and Australia, where you can be assured of doing that without ending up in a camp somewhere.



But let me tell you something right now, so you can write it down.



Separation of church and state? You obviously don't really know what the Founders intended that to mean, originally - but, that's normal. Fewer and fewer people in this country DO know that, to their shame and my regret.



Here it is; you go your way with your beliefs (or non-beliefs), and we'll go ours. You don't want a Mormon (or any religious person) in the White House? Don't vote for us. That's your right as a citizen. It's also how the system is set up. But we have as much right to a seat at the table as you do, and as much right to the citizen marketplace of ideas and discussion as you do .... whether you like it, or not.



You don't have to like freedom of religion in this country, but you'd better respect it. Obama doesn't, and he's facing the consequences of that decision.



Don't make the same mistake he's making.
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I would like to hear what tv shows you enjoy sir so, in comparison, the shortcomings of The Newsroom become glaringly apparent. I would also like to hear your views on President George W. Bush, whose economic record was just as colourful as Obama's without having a Global Financial Crisis to manage.



It's unfortunate that The Newsroom is set a year in the past, in that it won't be able to respond to your prophecies until season 2.
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I like show (and people) who respect freedom of religion, and shows that don't denigrate believers JUST BECAUSE they are believers. There's a reason that the Founders made it the FIRST Amendment; this country was founded in part by people who got sick and tired of putting up with that crap. Now, we have a President who is so blatant about it, he doesn't even know how to do his job properly; otherwise, he wouldn't be sued by dozens of religious organizations.



GWB wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but he was a damn sight better than the child who replaced him; and please stop whining about the Global Financial Crisis - Obama is "managing" that about as well as he "manages" anything else in his job - like a teenager. You can keep blaming Bush all you want to, Ben ... HE wasn't running in 2008, he's not running in 2012, and the country is sick of hearing people use him as an excuse for not doing THEIR jobs properly. Unless you think an 800 million dollar failed stimulus, 5 trillion in additional national debt, and trillion-dollar yearly deficits is a benchmark for a President who is "doing his job."



Whiners and children blame people who aren't a part of a problem; adults and people with principles try to solve the problem themselves, and take responsibility for it. It's obvious where Obama fits on that scale.



Where do YOU fit?
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Prophecies, don't you mean delusions? If Romney beats Obama then I'll eat me freaking hat. Even the red states aren't that dumb.
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Will you be posting video of you eating your hat on YouTube after November? Cause I really, really, REALLY do believe that Obama is a ONE-TERMER; just like both he and Bill Clinton have promised.



We're gonna have ourselves another landslide, like the Reagan-Carter election in 1980-81. When you have THIS level of incompetency, the only way to deal with it is to FIRE IT, and get someone else.



America's getting someone else ... get used to it, and learn to love it, cause it's coming - like your hat meal.
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So what you're saying is, you're not a big fan of long speeches and whip-smart back-and-forths? I think that's what you're saying. I'm pretty sure. Like 60 to 70%.
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Well said, FF, Well said...
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Hey man, done right they're great. And some of them ARE great.
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Lot of intermingling here Tim - good to see you after the fact...
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Hope it's not a letdown like you say. I'll definitely be watchin it. Pretty sure I'll be lovin it.
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Me too neither...

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