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HBO's NewsRoom (Sorkin) Season 1


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#21 of 69 ONLINE   Quentin

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Posted June 27 2012 - 09:51 AM

[quote name="Adam Lenhardt" url="/t/321715/hbos-newsroom-sorkin-season-1#post_3942473"]There's an argument to be made that Sorkin has no responsibility to get the news right, and that his only responsibility is to tell a compelling, entertaining story. I disagree, though. If you're dedicating a show to the people who gather, research and report the news, you should get both the process and the news itself right. People should come away no more poorly informed than than came in.[quote]

I like your post, Adam and I agree with it. But, I wanted to draw attention to this part in particular.

Essentially, if I'm reading the pilot correctly and I know Sorkin like I think I know him, this show is supposed to be about a group of people who will set out on a mission to make TV news noble and good again. A machine to inform the electorate properly. Not to kowtow to ratings and hype and attempt to polarize like an O'Reilly or Olbmermann. And, not to drone us to sleep. But, to be smart, provocative, and informative.

Unfortunately, what the pilot gives us for the BP coverage is a show that is both partly fictional (and therefore fraudulent) and partly unbelievably lucky due to Sorkin's hindsight (making journalism look easy and...lucky). Both of these are antithetical to the premise! To restore nobility to TV news, will require 1) PURE TRUTH - that is, absolute facts presented in a provocative manner and inherent bias can be present but should be acknowledged and pointed out, and 2) HARD WORK - laziness and luck are largely why news is as shitty as it is nowadays. It's far easier to blather on camera and kowtow to polling and ratings and trot out caricature representatives of different sides of a debate in order to generate polarization and therefore high ratings and hype. It's much harder to do what Emily Mortimer's character suggests.

But, the BP coverage was not a good example of this. In this case, it's because of the silly hindsight/luck issue and, as you point out, Sorkin's bias allowed him to present fictional aspects of the story that point the finger at an incompetent MMS (instead of corrupt, red-tape bound, and lazy) and the evil corporate Haliburton (an overblown cliche at this point). So, Sorking dropped the ball TWICE in this pilot: he allowed the newsroom to get way too lucky on this story far sooner than any other news show AND he still got the story angle wrong!

I am curious to see if/how/when the show evolves from here. Will they continue covering the spill? It was big news until July - that's 4 months. The reviews suggest they bring on guest speaker/debaters that are the worst kind of caricatures - which sounds terribly like an O'Reilly show or Politically Incorrect. That just sounds horrible to me.

#22 of 69 OFFLINE   Joe_H

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Posted June 29 2012 - 03:18 PM

I agree in principle that nobody gets something like that THAT right, but I think they had to sort of start out with a 'win' in order to get a good introduction to these people. I'd bet that they'll get things just as wrong at some point in the future, but I don't think you can just throw them right into the situation with things going wrong. I guess what I mean is that it's helpful to see how things work when they're going right before trying to figure out how they work when things are going wrong.

#23 of 69 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted June 29 2012 - 04:07 PM

Unfortunately, what the pilot gives us for the BP coverage is a show that is both partly fictional (and therefore fraudulent) and partly unbelievably lucky due to Sorkin's hindsight (making journalism look easy and...lucky). Both of these are antithetical to the premise! To restore nobility to TV news, will require 1) PURE TRUTH - that is, absolute facts presented in a provocative manner and inherent bias can be present but should be acknowledged and pointed out, and 2) HARD WORK - laziness and luck are largely why news is as shitty as it is nowadays.
I understand your point but Sorkin and company are not reporting the news, they're making a fictional show about reporters. The show is presented as a fiction that takes place in our world so I see no reason why they have an obligation to present a 100% accurate view of events. If making up a character or event gets that story told better/easier then I see no problem with fictionalizing events. Personally, when they had the untrained MMS guy come on, I thought "Hey, it's Jesse Eisenberg" and then I thought "There's no way that this is real because it would have been cited as a catastrophic screw up that would have garnered massive attention." Even when a movie or TV show is based on a true story, I don't believe everything I'm seeing onscreen because no piece of entertainment is going to get it all right and The Newsroom is not even making a claim of being a true story. As has been said, I'm sure they're going to fall on their face and get a story wrong (if only for the sake of drama) but the first time out, they're going to get everything right and get all the breaks so the audience can see that they're great at their jobs.

#24 of 69 ONLINE   Quentin

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Posted July 02 2012 - 09:13 AM

Actually, Travis...Sorkin has said multiple times that they are not using fictional news...clearly a misnomer. This week's show? Meh. I thought the pacing/structure was off. Almost as if the show wasn't sure HOW it wanted to be structured vs. last week's clear ideas. Also, the "email screwup" was so obviously handled from the setup to the punchline that it felt lazy and weak. Not what I expect from Sorkin. And, I felt the show had far too many preachy monologues about what news should be, what they wanted to do with news, what responsibility they had, etc. I know Sorkin usually pushes this as a theme but this episode hammered it into us SO hard!! The one complaint I didn't have was the one the critics were complaining about in their 4 show preview: the caricatured goofs on the 'right' side of the argument. Yes, they were ridiculous caricatures of the most extreme types...but, that was the point! The news team screwed up! I was laughing at Will's difficulty getting a debate going with these idiots as Mac screamed "dump it!" That was actually my favorite part of the episode.

#25 of 69 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted July 02 2012 - 10:49 AM

Yeah, I really did enjoy the pilot more then expected.   I thought the pacing to the second episode was pretty clunky.   Lots of beats that just didn't seem to go anywhere.. some good moments too though.  Real mixed bag.
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#26 of 69 OFFLINE   joshEH

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Posted July 02 2012 - 11:45 AM

Both Mortimer and Pill came off really shrill last night. It's not their faults, it's the insane back-bending they have to do with Sorkin's rat-tat-tat dialogue, and the stupid mistakes he forces upon them, especially Mortimer, who has to somehow make that whole, "I'm going to send Will an e-mail right now and hey there's no way I'll fuck this up because I certainly didn't before OH MY GOD I JUST WENT FROM SUPER-COMPETENT PROFESSIONAL TO COMPLETE FUCK-UP!" moment work, and does her best with what she's got. Meanwhile, Pill kinda just comes off as crazy, and having her constantly say "Why am I mad at you?" to the new producer doesn't exactly excuse the fact that nobody really fucking knows why, other than Sorkin has to build drama and create a wedge between them. Other than that, I kinda liked it. I liked that they failed huge (within the story), which answered some of my concerns. Another big facepalm on the coincidence-meter, though: Pill's ex just happens to be the chief of staff for Arizona's Governor? Come on. I thought Mortimer's speech to Daniels at the end of the episode was great, though. I like that the characters are flawed, and seem poised to go somewhere. However, I'm dreading the, "Will-they-or-won't-they-get-back-together-again?" romance already. (Also: Marshall Bell was frigging perfect as the right-wing gun-nut.)

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#27 of 69 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted July 02 2012 - 11:47 AM

Actually, Travis...Sorkin has said multiple times that they are not using fictional news...clearly a misnomer.
I haven't read anything about this show so did he say that they would present the event as it 100% happened or did he say that they would use real world events for the show? Saying that you're not going to make up events doesn't mean that you won't fictionalize parts of it for the sake of the show.

#28 of 69 OFFLINE   Josh Dial

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Posted July 02 2012 - 01:07 PM

Renewed for a second season.

#29 of 69 OFFLINE   Garrett Adams

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Posted July 02 2012 - 04:32 PM

To sum it up I think the episode was about 50-60% over-Sorkinized. :o

#30 of 69 OFFLINE   Joe_H

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Posted July 02 2012 - 04:45 PM

The first episode was far better than the second, but like was said earlier, I still find it to be a lot better than a lot of TV that's currently out there. Even if it maintains that level of quality, I'll most likely keep watching. I'll of course hope for improvement, but it's good enough that it's still pretty entertaining.

#31 of 69 OFFLINE   joshEH

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Posted July 04 2012 - 03:05 AM

Sit'chyo monkey-asses DOWN:

Terry Crews to join the show in episode six.

Playing Will McAvoy's "bodyguard/life-coach," no less. Stoked for this. Nutrition and Fitness majors at Sarah Lawrence are now stoked, as well.

I'll be even more stoked if Terry Crews plays his role exactly like Terry Tate, Office Linebacker:


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#32 of 69 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted July 08 2012 - 07:25 PM

Not so good tonite. Too much word salad. A few eye rolling errors (the couple from Manhattan, Ks not knowing who the Kochs are is laughable.. Kock Ag is the largest employer in Flint Hills / Riley county). Too many hings that just tried too hard to be cute.
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#33 of 69 ONLINE   Quentin

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Posted July 08 2012 - 09:01 PM

That was just....horrible television. Sorkin has 2 episodes to pull himself out of this nosedive for me. I realize next week may be comparably bad, but episode 5 is a chance to redeem. First step...drop the Koch family conspiracy nonsense. That's not even news.

#34 of 69 OFFLINE   Josh Dial

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Posted July 08 2012 - 09:14 PM

I thought it was a good episode.  Maybe it's because I have no vested interest in American politics (read: I don't have a "side"), but the episode seemed to be a pretty fair and accurate depiction of the state of American news (and politics, to a lesser extent).  My only issue was the over-use of montage, though it was a decent way to skip through a large number of months.   One of my areas of interest (interest, not practice) is the directors' fiduciary duty to shareholders, so I found the exchange "upstairs" to be interesting.  I've had similar discussions with colleagues, and it's a fun topic (though slightly different in Canada, given the different body of case law).   At any rate, it looks like I'm the lone voice of support so far; oh well.

#35 of 69 OFFLINE   Mikah Cerucco

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Posted July 09 2012 - 07:50 AM

Maybe the lone vocal supporter, but not the lone supporter. We're really enjoying the show here. I love the issues they're bringing up and the complexities involved in, "Doing news right."
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#36 of 69 ONLINE   Quentin

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Posted July 09 2012 - 09:26 AM

Will's 'apology' - a thematic mission statement for how they want their show to 'do the news right' (right before they begin chasing a conspiracy theory instead of covering news) is overly simplistic to the extreme. Typical Sorkin patois with good intentions...but, not with the typical well-researched foundation. Sure, I'd like to see news that doesn't chase ratings as well...but, his explanations of how Paley et al were allowed to have commercial support being the cause of all that's gone wrong? It's just a poor argument. Even if Congress had (back then) insisted on 1 hour of free TV, it would not have changed a thing. The advent of cable TV, the internet and more would have quickly rendered any free hour of TV irrelevant.

#37 of 69 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted July 09 2012 - 09:48 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quentin /t/321715/hbos-newsroom-sorkin-season-1/30#post_3946449 Will's 'apology' - a thematic mission statement for how they want their show to 'do the news right' (right before they begin chasing a conspiracy theory instead of covering news) is overly simplistic to the extreme. Typical Sorkin patois with good intentions...but, not with the typical well-researched foundation. Sure, I'd like to see news that doesn't chase ratings as well...but, his explanations of how Paley et al were allowed to have commercial support being the cause of all that's gone wrong? It's just a poor argument. Even if Congress had (back then) insisted on 1 hour of free TV, it would not have changed a thing. The advent of cable TV, the internet and more would have quickly rendered any free hour of TV irrelevant.
  That portion bothered me; outside of being too long, it's already been said this is a CABLE news outlet, 24 hour news a day.   So, they aren't talking about a "1 hour" news cycle.   And free airwaves don't apply in any fashion, so no action there would have mattered.    The handling of the Tea Party bit though wasn't really "good news" as you're right, it's chasing a theory; there were of course a lot of doofus tea party candidates; but there were a few who were elected on many different grounds, and the house of representatives has always been a place where lunatics could hide out.. going back decades long before The Tea Party or whatever.   But the issue is how that was addressed got pretty ridiculous.  Asking a KANSAS couple "do you know who the Koch brothers are".. Uh, who the hell in Kansas DOESN'T.  And in Manhattan, KS (Riley County as they pointed out) where Koch Industries hires thousands of people in it's agriculture business?  Are you kidding me?   I was waiting for a response that would have been more likely like "you mean the people who employ my brother?"
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#38 of 69 ONLINE   Sam Favate

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Posted July 10 2012 - 03:34 AM

I thought the third episode was an improvement over the second. It handled the tea party stuff very well, and addressed it in a manner most people would have liked to have seen in real life (i.e. responsibly). YMMV. The show is coming along, and the conflict between the Fonda and Waterson characters was great, and will be interesting to watch.   Where the show fails is the romantic subplots: We get that there's a triangle between Maggie-Don-Jim, and it's not interesting to watch because we've seen this kind of thing so many times before. Yes, yes - poor Jim, he has to watch while Maggie continues to go back to that asshole Don who doesn't appreciate her. We know how it turns out - at some pivotal moment, Jim and Maggie end up in each other's arms, Don finds out, more "drama" in the workplace. Same goes with Will and Mac - we've seen it, the building of that kind of tension is familiar, and there's no satisfactory ending to their story. 

#39 of 69 OFFLINE   ChristopherG

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Posted July 10 2012 - 05:19 AM

So, how are the ratings doing for NewsRoom?
It takes 52 pounds of pressure to rupture an eyeball... :blink:

#40 of 69 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted July 10 2012 - 08:00 AM

It's already been renewed for Season 2.   Ratings don't matter quite as much to HBO.. it's a pay network.
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