Posted Monday, April 2, 2012, at 12:51 PM
Jeff Daniels in the trailer for HBO's Newsroom
When I first heard the title for Aaron Sorkin’s forthcoming HBO series—Newsroom—I joked on Twitter that this was actually the catchall title for all his TV work. (To which Vanity Fair critic James Wolcott replied that the title should have been off-limits, as it was already brilliantly taken.) Sorkin’s done sporty Newsroom (the late, lamented Sports Night, sadly canceled after two seasons),* jokey Newsroom (the not-so-lamented Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, mercifully canceled after one season), and White House Newsroom (Sorkin’s best show by the far, The West Wing). Now he’s doing newsy Newsroom, so no one should be surprised if the trailer produces some Sorkin déjà vu:
There’s already some grumbling out there that Sorkin is recycling old material, but originality has never really been Sorkin’s thing: At his best, he brilliantly revives a very traditional sort of storytelling, with familiar tropes, immediately recognizable stakes, and witty, likeable characters. At his worst, he imagines that television has a much grander sort of importance than it really does. (Studio 60 is the worst offender in this regard, but Sports Night occasionally went in for similar delusions of TV grandeur.)
Needless to say, Newsroom, with its echoes of Network (a movie that also had rather grandiose notions of what TV is capable of), looks tailor-made to indulge this weakness of Sorkin’s. I’m going to hold out hope anyway. When Sorkin is cooking he can be as entertaining as any TV writer going—and I’m curious to see what he does with his first non-network show. Plus: that cast! I’ll watch anything with Jeff Daniels—not to mention Sam Waterston, Emily Mortimer, Alison Pill…
Newsroom will reportedly premiere on HBO this summer. I’m looking forward to it.
* This post originally misstated how many season of Sports Night there were. The series had two seasons, not one.