|Is No 'Newsroom' Good News?|
BY BRUCE APAR
Sometimes, it's the small pleasures in life that stimulate our sinew, our senses, and our sense of anticipation. Take me (or leave me, an acquired taste). When HBO's Boardwalk Empire was being tantalizingly touted in promos by the pay-TV channel, and having been, like so many others, enamored of The Sopranos, I persuaded my in-house controller to spring for re-subscribing to the channel.
Used to be I also liked having HBO for its marquee boxing matchups, but the sweet science has long since faded into a lost artifice of fisticuffs between obscure pugilists about whom nobody cares. With Ali and Tyson gone from the squared circle, today's contenders are known more for mistakes than mystiques.
Another small pleasure, when I'm at the gym is, like so many others, distracting myself from the "No pain, no gain" workout ethic by plugging buds in my ears. Every so often, I'll tire of listening to my collection on iTunes and tune in to podcasts. This morning, I listened to an NPR Fresh Air interview by Terry Gross with Jeff Daniels, star of Aaron Sorkin's new HBO series Newsroom. Daniels not only is a very fine actor, but also a good interview. He even dispensed some nuggets about emoting that rank amateurs like me can hang onto for dear life to not thoroughly embarrass ourselves on community theater stages.
Also on this podcast was a review of Newsroom by critic John Powers, who also contributes his thoughtful reviews to Vogue Magazine. After last Sunday's third episode of Newsroom, I had posted my own thoughts on Facebook, and a couple of others had weighed in, in agreement. Our consensus was not very positive. The show, we opined, is over-wrought and so politically strident in mouthing Sorkin's views that even if you agree with his decidedly left-wing diatribes, it's something other than the caliber we're used to on HBO miniseries. It's downright annoying at times.
Mr. Powers said much the same thing, but much more eloquently. He calls Newsroom "a breezy, preachy, exasperating new HBO series." I just read another unflattering review in BusinessWeek, which summed up critic David Kamp's take on it with "it's a mess."
He also says, "In fact, the show's so riddled with disapproval toward those who watch Fox News, read the tabloids or enjoy reality TV that it feeds the cliche of liberals as smug elitists who reflexively look down on anyone who doesn't agree."
And concludes, "Trapped inside the bottle, he's created a show that replicates much of what it thinks it's opposing. It's partisan. It's sermonizing. And it's terrified that if it's too brainy or complex, the audience won't find it entertaining. Newsroom may think it's grappling with the crisis in American culture, but in the end it's just another symptom."
You can read (or listen to) his entire review of Newsroom by clicking here> 'The Newsroom' Caught Up In A Partisan Divide