Some time ago I redefined what this series would be. Since then I have posted less. Perhaps I am overthinking the matter and should continue to post with little concern to the overall shape and format. My hope is to write something that might be helpful to others. This is a way for me to make recommendations about films and shows I love. The idea is not to review these works, that has already been done. My hope is to convince readers to give these films a chance for a first or second viewing.
Today I want to write about The Newsroom. Anyone who has been near me in the past four years has suffered through my rambling pronouncements of love for Jeff Daniels. I love him. I love his acting. What I love most about him, despite being consistently excellent, is that somehow, in spite of his track record of excellence, he continues to surprise me with the quality of his performances. The Newsroom is a good example of this.
Prior to watching The Newsroom I saw Steve Jobs. That I only just wrote a ‘See it Again’ post about that film is a shining example of how constricting I find this new format.
Jeff Daniel’s performance in Steve Jobs and The Martian, have a similar feel. You get the sense that when they were casting these films they wanted someone with authority, someone with intelligence and firmness of character who could simultaneously convey authority and warmth. It’s a powerful combination, the Morgan Freeman combination if you will, and I would argue a difficult one to do well. These qualities, combined with believable flaws make up the character he plays in The Newsroom.
It’s a wonderful show with wonderful performances from actors I adore. Emily Mortimer has been lighting up my life since I saw her in Dear Frankie and she never disappoints. Putting her opposite Jeff Daniels is interesting, certainly not what I would have imagined for this show. It works, though, and their characters’ dynamic professionally and personally carries most of the three seasons.
There are a number of romantic or personal plot lines on the show and not all of them work. For me, they all place behind the professional story lines of The Newsroom.
To say that Aaron Sorkin made a show that seems out of tune with the times is fair. I believe he made this show, which is optimistic and somewhat nostalgic precisely because the ideas and feelings The Newsroom espouses are lacking in the world and he wanted to call attention to this fact.
The joy I feel in watching this show comes from watching characters who believe in the importance of the work they are doing. Not for the money or the fame or even for being the first to break a story. It’s the worthiness of the job and knowing that they have to get it right, the first time.
It’s interesting watching a show about people taking pride in their work. I’ve seen a number of movies and shows over the years about doctors and police officers who are so deeply invested in their work they neglect all other aspects of their lives. That’s not what The Newsroom is about. Most of the characters on the show are struggling to have lives outside of work and see the value in doing so.
What I enjoy about The Newsroom and what sets it apart from a great deal of television I watch, is that it aims to inspire these feelings of pride and importance in the work the media does in the viewer. It is educating and entertaining, simultaneously, which I think is something special.
If you have put off watching this show because of a negative review you read (like I did, thanks for that Emily Nussbaum) I urge you to reconsider. If that isn’t enough do what I just did when looking for Ms. Nussbaum’s review and read David Denby’s which, as always, is excellent.