Aaron Sorkin, the man behind “Sports Night” and four-time Outstanding Drama Series Emmy-winner “The West Wing,” debuted a new show on HBO Sunday night (June 24) – “The Newsroom,” starring Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy, an anchor on a major cable news network, Sam Waterston as the president of the network and Emily Mortimer as the new executive producer who has a complicated past with McAvoy.
The show definitely has Sorkin’s fingerprints all over it – the break-neck dialogue, the pedo-conferencing, the “anti”-American rant done as hundreds of cell phones were on record – reminiscent of the on-air rant by Wes Mendell that kicked off “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” though the topic of the rant was different and “Studio 60” never really found its footing as a show.
Will “West Wing” and “Sports Night” fans flock to “The Newsroom”? It seems like they might – there is a lot of room for the type of issue-exploration Sorkin did for four seasons of “West Wing,” plus the cast of characters is highly reminiscent of the band of politicos in the Bartlet administration.
McAvoy himself reminded us more than a little of a Bartlet-Toby hybrid at several points in the show and Margaret/Maggie/Ellen made us nostalgic for the early Donnatella Moss days. We also feel like we could re-watch the premiere and look for “West Wing” … “references” isn’t the right word, but for instance – during the opening scene panel, the NEA argument made us want to dress someone down for claiming Arthur Murray didn’t need the NEA to write “Death of a Salesman.” And the “code for New York, Jewish, perverted and gay” remark brought to mind Mary Marsh and her God who is too busy being indicted for tax fraud. Do you feel us on that one?
The premiere episode was certainly strong enough to get us on board for more viewing – though so was the first episode of “Studio 60.” So here’s hoping we’ve got another “West Wing” on our hands and not another “Studio 60.”