Aaron Sorkin is a true American patriot, and his rants on the topic are the stuff of legend, at least in this household. Democracy isn't easy is the backdrop as I listen to opposing viewpoints.... or try to listen to opposing viewpoints even though all I am offered is screeching on the news and the talk shows.
In The Newsroom, Sam Waterston, outraged, but with a twinkle in his eye, plays the boss who shares my sentiments, exactly. He creates a show that he would want to watch, a program that is tough and fair-minded and answers the questions he was asking himself, the questions TBG and I ask one another as, once again, the evening news devolves into fluff and nonsense.
Walking into the newsroom on April 20, 2010, watching as the staff puts together the first reporting on the BP Deep Water Horizon explosion, Waterston's character leans against the doorframe as he exclaims to no one in particular, "This is beautiful!"
Sorkin's values are laid out on the table clearly, early and vibrantly in this and every other piece he's written, from A Few Good Men to The American President to The West Wing and Sports Night. His work is dense and requires active participation; there's no doing a crossword puzzle at the same time. That's why we watched it twice; the dialogue is so rich and textured.... okay, they talk over one another just like you do in real life and it's sometimes hard to follow all the different strands.
That's annoying to some and I respect that. I, being happy to view the episode more than once, am not as bothered. I've learned to let it wash over me the first time and then pay closer attention the second time around. There's so much in there, like a Hieronymous Bosch painting, that I'm not bored when I revisit.
There was a time when we aspired to intelligence, when it didn't frighten us....... I am tired of stupid.
We have always thought that Sorkin lived inside our heads, but my post yesterday and his words that night were really too similar to be coincidence. Perhaps we were separated at birth? This isn't relaxing television; it challenges you to keep up with the pace.
There are the usual Sorkin memes - loving sisters; pre-show preparation; ambition and career vs loyalty. Out of a universe of names from which to choose, Margaret is the one that is forgotten over and over and over again both here and in The West Wing. I'm wondering about the back story there. The story lines are familiar, too. An old flame resurfacing, a feisty young woman, a young and sarcastic second banana, overseen by a benevolent and strong father figure.
HBO promoted the show as the tale of an anchor's meltdown and the surrounding debacle. In reality, that occupies but a small fragment of the beginning of the piece, and, as many characters tell us, is not the reason for the show at all. It's politically driven, with an agenda and a purpose. It is unabashedly pretentious. It is well acted and surprisingly informative.
I love it. I hope you do, too.
If you want to watch it on-line, click here.