Dan Rather's weekly recap of The Newsroom comes with a little surprise: Dan Rather himself! The legendary news anchor—whose interview with Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin will air on AXS TV tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Central—will be in the comments of the post, answering questions, starting at 2 p.m.
Authenticity, good acting, sharp dialogue and good, fast-moving storytelling are the hallmarks of this hour, created and written by Aaron Sorkin. This week’s seemed to whiz by faster than any other I can remember in the now almost two seasons that the series has been running. A good sign that the show is going to finish strong when the current season ends next week. (It already has been renewed for a 3rd season; by any reasonable analysis, it richly deserves to stay on the schedule.)
Climax time for the series thus far. The ACN network and its news operation—despite reservations—went ahead with a report that U.S. troops had used poison gas—lethal sarin— during an operation inside Pakistan. Soon after the investigative exclusive aired, there were revelations that wrecked its credibility.
As the series gets further into its second season, it is broadening, deepening, and becoming even more thought-provoking. There has been no diminution of its trademark sharp scripts and superior acting, which combine for superior story-telling. All television dramas strive for this; few achieve it. Among current or recent offerings, Mad Men does. So does The Good Wife and a few others, but the list isn't long. My opinion for some time now has been that The Newsroom is the best of the current lot and has the potential to be one of the better television series ever. Nothing in this latest episode gives any pause in that opinion, much less any change.
This may not have been the most exciting episode but it was among the most interesting. As the chapter title suggests, the anchorman's character is further developed and filled-out, as he is seen having to balance family tragedy with professional duties. One of the main story lines of the season—how the news network got in trouble with a big story that proved to be wrong—gets considerable new development. As with every episode, plenty of romance is interwoven.
Best line of this installment: When the anchorman, irritated by a Twitter twit, is reminded of an ancient truth: "Relatively small people will try to raise their profile by standing on your neck."
Small nit: I didn't think the frog joke worked.
I liked this episode—a lot. It holds your attention and builds considerable interest for
One headline summation of this latest edition of The Newsroom could read: A riveting new subplot unfolds and a previously unsympathetic heroine—associate producer Maggie Jordan (played by Alison Pill)—emerges transformed. Another might be: That hair color spells trouble (both Maggie's old blonde and new red. Not to mention that the new cut is awful).
The plot thickens, the pace quickens and this new season of master screenwriter Aaron Sorkin's latest work becomes more interesting with each episode. "Gripping" might be the better word. For some viewers "addictive" may soon become more apt. By whatever description it's good, very good. And if the first 2 episodes of the new run are any indication, it'll get better every week.
The verdict's in on the season two premiere of HBO's The Newsroom, and if it isn't unanimous it ought to be. It was good, very good, if not downright terrific (which I personally think it was). Most early reviews seem to say so, one way or another—some more straight out than others. These include the reviews of some writers who last season were either picky, or even dismissive of, a show that started out strong and got better as it went along and was, by any objective analysis, one of the best dramas on television—if not the best of the lot, cable or standard broadcast.
You may remember we were lucky to have venerable newsman Dan Rather review The Newsroom for us for a few weeks, before HBO stopped sending out screeners mid-season. But as he promised, Rather taped a video recap yesterday to share his final thoughts about the show. He also considers his next project for us.
Yesterday it was revealed that HBO may have fudged some of the critical acclaim The Newsroom was receiving, but now it may have lost the one man unbowed by the naysayers and willing to effusively praise it each week. HBO curbed its screener release at episode four, and so America's most visceral recapper's stint is over for now.
A note from Dan Rather: I'm aware that my musings run counter to some of the more prominent early reviews in high-profile publications such as The New Yorker and the New York Times. But with all due respect (and I have a lot of it for those reviewers), I just don't think they "get it"; they've somehow missed the breadth, depth and "got it right" qualities –- and importance — of Newsroom. Maybe it's because they are print people. Then, too, maybe they're right and I'm wrong. I never rule out the possibility of that. But I've lived in the world of television newsrooms for most of my adult life. I know the people, the venues and the challenges — the satisfactions of success and the heartbreak when things go awry. From where I sit and based on my experience, Sorkin and crew have got it amazingly right, even when they over talk it.