Aaron Sorkin is an idol of mine—a true wordsmith whose whip-smart writing has exalted Sports Night, The West Wing, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip on television and A Few Good Men, The American President, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Social Network, and Moneyball on film. (And now he’s even getting in the Broadway game, teaming up with Hugh Jackman and Wicked songster Stephen Schwartz for a musical about Houdini.)
So imagine my unbridled glee when I heard that he was coming back to television. (I wasn’t sure he would after the untimely demise of Studio 60). And I was even more psyched when I found out that he’d be berthed at HBO, where he’d presumably have more creative freedom and less pressure to deliver instant ratings. Add to that an interesting cast including Jeff Daniels, Jane Fonda, Allison Pill, Dev Patel, Sam Waterston, Olivia Munn, and Emily Mortimer. And, mercifully, either he or HBO changed the title—More As This Story Develops did not inspire happy thoughts.
So when the trailer for it finally dropped last week… it slipped right by me. But I did finally catch on. Check it out for yourself below, and then scroll down further for my reactions.
- 0:05: Cue tense, two-note piano music.
- 0:08: I think I’ve seen this guy cast as a d-bag in about seven shows.
- 0:11: “The Jay Leno of news anchors.” Hah! Love it.
- 0:25: Impending migrane? Or Hulk-out?
- 0:33: Jeff Daniels is already an Emmy nominee, no?
- 0:34: The woman in the front row does a really good “OMG” face.
- 0:57: “I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.” Oh, right, it’s an HBO show.
- 1:00: Was that “You somebody”? Or “Yosemite”?
- 1:02: Cue Black-Keys-esque music.
- 1:045 Who let the Slumdog out?
- 1:09: Jane Fonda, ladies and gentlemen!
- 1:11: “I’m a registered Republican. I only seem liberal because I believe that hurricanes are caused by high barometric pressure and not gay marriage.” Sorkin’s back, y’all!
- 1:38: “How do you fix breaking news?” the trailer asks. That’s a snappy tagline. As the raptor hunter once said to the raptor, “Clever girl!”
- 1:42: The sound of Blackberry hitting camera is perfect. But why did the guy in the control room duck? I thought the 3D news bit was just a joke.
- 1:50: I don’t know what I’ve seen more of: people leaning forward emphatically or Jeff Daniels throwing things.
- 1:52: Will’s mane shakes as he yells, emphasizing the point that about he and about four other characters need haircuts.
- 1:54: Apparently, no one told the cinematographer to never shoot until you see the whites of their eyes. Jane’s in those shadows somewhere.
And yes, that is all stream-of-consciousness. I am that witty instantaneously. In no way did I go back and punch up my bons mots.
In all sincerity, this trailer shows real potential. But I have to remark upon the similarities between what we see here and the pilot episode of Studio 60: after a media personality’s on-air meltdown, his show gets a revamp and fresh blood as the network execs cast doubts about the show’s future. Plus, this will have been Aaron Sorkin’s third show about a show.
Nevertheless, I’m optimistic. With the critical acclaim surrounding The Social Network and Moneyball, Sorkin seems to be at the top of his game nowadays. So it’s exciting that he’ll get to grace us with thirteen hours of his writerly craftsmanship every season. Plus, it seems like the perfect mesh of his previous two shows. Whereas The West Wing was a cultural touchstone for blending politics and drama, Studio 60 was criticized for imbuing the showbiz drama with too much politics; so The Newsroom seems like the logical next step, a hybrid of the two which plays to Sorkin’s strengths. Now if only he’d write Bradley Whitford and Allison Janney into the show somehow…