Peter Suderman Tries to Tolerate The Newsroom With Slate's Dave Weigel

The Newsroom via HBO.The Newsroom via HBO.Today in service journalism: I watched HBO's Aaron Sorkin-created show about a fictional cable news program, The Newsroom. And then I participated in one of the post-show chats that Dave Weigel has been hosting at Slate. Here's an excerpt:

PS: ‪Do you get the impression that this plotline, in which our intrepid News Night team gets a Big Story very, very wrong, is an attempt to respond to criticism of the show's first season?‬

DW: ‪Insofar as it's a plotline that runs through the season and creates something resembling tension?‬

PS: That, yes. But also in the sense that the first season, which I only saw snippets of, was perceived as very smug? This gives Sorkin a chance to take his characters down a peg. (Sort of.)‬

DW:
 ‪As a schlocky moral lesson, it's pretty good, and having been fitted with every kind of black hat this season, it was good to see Jerry Dantana get smacked down.‬
Yes, only to be saved when Jane Fonda suddenly believes in the power of their journalism. She hated it when they pissed off Republicans with opinion, but she'll live with it when they blow a story. Perhaps it's because her news team is now so chastened that they won't possibly rebuff her. But as a drama—as someone who reviews a lot of movies, and knows how they are structured—what did you make of the Genoa payoff?‬

PS: ‪I thought the episode worked better as drama than many of the episodes this season, mostly because it was focused on Genoa. Romantic entanglements and yesterday's news were generally back-burned, except for a Benghazi sequence intercut with a Genoa interview session at the end.‬ The show is at its best when it's telling a story with meaningful stakes rather than offering Life Lessons, and we got more of that here than in previous episodes.

DW: As pompous as it can be/always is, I agree—I'd much rather watch Sorkin in "lecturing the audience" mode than in "teaching those women a lesson" mode.‬

PS: But he so obviously enjoys imparting lessons to Internet Girls everywhere.‬ ‪Part of what bugs me about the show is that it often feels like a one-man show, in which Sorkin is playing all the parts. This plot-heavy episode felt a little less like that than usual.‬ ‪What did you think of the way to Genoa story came apart?‬ I can't decide whether it felt sort of real—a cascading series of unlikely failures—or totally contrived.

Read the whole thing here.

Read Reason's Scott Shackford on The Newsroom's first season here. Remember the time I praised Aaron Sorkin's previous TV show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip? Yeah. That happened

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  • Irish||

    No.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    ^This.

  • JW||

    Fuck no.

  • ||

    Exactly. I have to tip my nonexistent hat to Suderman for putting himself through this for our sake, but I regret to inform him it was pointless.

  • RBS||

    Watching Newsroom and hanging out with Weigel? I'd rather be kicked in the nuts.

  • Lord Humungus||

    obviously some new method of North Korean torture.

  • tarran||

    The North Koreans aren't really into sophisticated torture.

    They'll just send you to a slave labor camp and work you till you die. And rape you if the guards think you are cute.

  • Lord Humungus||

    gee, thanks for destroying the premise for my new novel featuring Epi and Warty as two tourists spies caught by the Norks.

  • tarran||

    No... there is room for a novel...

    Fromt the Watchmen

    "I'm not locked in here with you... you're locked in here with *ME*!"

  • Sidd Finch||

    I tried to tolerate that excerpt. Sorry, Peter.

  • ||

    I can't even believe how tedious this show sounds, and that's from the descriptions of two people who are purportedly enjoying it. My god, this has to be torture. Sorkin should be arrested for war crimes.

  • tarran||

    So it's worse than "What Dreams May Come"?

    Wow!

  • ||

    At least that was based on a Richard Matheson book. Sorkin is just Sorkin.

  • ||

    You know I am legend does have a pretty interesting premise and a nifty twist ending....

    Still it is not a good story.

    The guy may as well be a 50s version of M Night Shyamalan

  • RBS||

    There are people who really love this show. Of the ones I know they fall into 3 categories: 1) Former Obama campaign staffer 2) Does something at some Non-Prof 3) teaches at a liberal arts college.

  • ||

    That sounds like one category: busy-body assholes.

  • Sidd Finch||

    This sounds worse than Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

  • Sidd Finch||

    Just realized McSuderman mentioned that show in the post ... and he liked it. WTF is wrong with this guy?

  • ||

    Cosmotarian.

  • Sidd Finch||

    touche

  • BakedPenguin||

    I generally like Suderman, but made some positive comments about Transporter 2, so between that and this, I think he may suffer from entertainment retardation.

  • Brett L||

    I thought Matthew Modine gave his best performance in years in Transporter 2. Does that count?

  • CampingInYourPark||

    This show just plain SUCKS. There isn't the first redeeming quality about ANY of it.

  • ||

    There is one:

    Lisa Olivia Munn is a very attractive woman.

  • Bam!||

    There are far more attractive women elsewhere on the tee-vee.

  • Juice||

    Meh. Not my type. pass.

  • Drake||

    I can't stand the promos they run while I'm waiting for a movie or enjoyable show to start on HBO.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

  • Lady Bertrum||

    This is too funny, especially the bit about the pipe-weed.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Sorkin got Moneyball right mostly because it was based on something someone else wrote, there were no women in it, and it had zero politics.

    Everything else he's made has the same basic effects as wearing a bike helmet made of plutonium.

  • ||

    And The Social Network was about an asocial computer nerd with Asperger's, couldn't have been that hard to write.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I didn't see that one because there is nothing even a little bit interesting about facebook.

  • ||

    I didn't see it for Sorkin, I saw it for David Fincher's direction.

    He's a master at taking something as convoluted as a lawsuit and make it interesting. Ever watch Zodiac?

  • Hugh Akston||

    I sure did. For a movie that was 3 years of chinese water torture, it really only felt like four weeks of having my fingernails ripped out.

  • ||

    I also saw it because it was directed by Fincher, and while it was a perfectly watchable movie, it was a waste of the talent of the guy who gave us Alien 3, Fight Club, Se7en, The Game, and more, and who wants to give us Rendezvous with Rama. I really don't get why he bothered with The Social Network.

  • robc||

    Will someone explain Rendezvous with Rama?

    Im missing something. Like the point.

  • ||

    It's essentially an archaeological mystery. There is no action, all the suspense comes from exploring the ship and learning about the aliens. It's undoubtedly not everyone's cup of tea, but I like that kind of thing. And clearly Fincher does too. It's in the same vein as At the Mountains of Madness but without the horror element.

  • ||

    It is a journey of exploration and discovery.

    To be honest Ring World would have been a better book if had gone the same route.

  • robc||

    Sorkin got Moneyball right mostly because it was based on something someone else wrote, there were no women in it, and it had zero politics.

    But he cut Voros from the movie.

  • ||

    You thought it was GOOD when he was in "lecturing the audience mode"?
    God this show sounds horrible.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    The Newsroom and Maher make me want to cancel HBO, but then I'd miss GoT.

  • UnCivilServant||

    I've adapted, while I have to fight to avoid spoilers, I wait for the DVD release instead. That way I'm not funding shows I hate.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    If you read the books then the spoilers won't matter.

    I keep HMO out of habit. What would I do with my evenings if not for the endless loop of second rate movies like 1000 Words or Dolphin Tales?

  • PRX||

    RFYTW

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Never seen it, never will.

    I'm guessing it's less believable than My Favorite Martian.

  • Irish||

    Nah. In real life reporters are all super geniuses that get every story right and spend all their time having monologues.

    Actually that last bit sounds pretty true to life.

  • sticks||

    But what does Miley Cyrus think of The Newsroom?

  • Sidd Finch||

    She wants Sorkin to be a pall bearer so he can let her down one more time?

  • ||

    I actually did watch the first few episodes of the first season. I reached my breaking point after the episode where they covered the Osama bin Laden raid and it concluded with one character saying that "a presidency was on the line tonight."

    Yeah, Sorkin's a genius, which is why he needs to use news stories from over a year ago so his characters can sound wise with the benefit of hindsight.

  • Irish||

    I haven't watched this season at all, but the scene in all the previews where the Indian or Arabic character claims that Occupy Wall Street is the American equivalent of the Arab Spring may be the funniest thing I've ever seen in my life.

    I personally wasn't aware that Occupy Wall Street was a front for radical Muslims who were trying to take over the American government, but if Sorkin says it it must be true.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    No no, they were trying to overthrow the corrupt dictitorial regime and usher in TRUE democracy.

  • ||

    And there's also an anti-Koch Brothers episode and--granted I stopped watching by then--an episode where we meet a sweet elderly woman who can't vote because of evil Republican voter ID laws.

  • mr simple||

    ‬ ‪Part of what bugs me about the show is that it often feels like a one-man show, in which Sorkin is playing all the parts

    Is that because all of Sorkin's characters sound exactly the same and speak with the same voice?

  • ||

    Yes. Sorkin's voice.

  • ||

    Not just the same voice, the same lines. There was a video floating around show his characters repeating the same shitty aphorism from various shows.

  • Mint Berry Crunch||

  • Hugh Akston||

  • ||

    Buffy was the same way.

  • Hugh Akston||

    DON'T YOU TALK SHIT ABOUT BUFFY

  • ||

    All the characters talked the same.

    That is not talking shit...it is a statement of fact.

  • General Butt Naked||

    HaHa...

    State of Florida on the hook for Zimmerman's defense costs.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Mob justice [for Trayvon] doesn't come cheap.

  • Juice||

    Didn't he get a bunch of donations that paid his legal costs and then some?

  • Brett L||

    Mr O'Mara told the Orlando Sentinel that the state of Florida was obliged to pay his client's legal expenses, except for the cost of his lawyer.

    He said this would include the costs of expert witnesses, travel, paying for transcripts and an animated video that the defence team used to reconstruct their account of the fatal confrontation in a gated community in the town of Sanford.

    Really? Holy shit.

  • ||

    Peter Suderman Tries to Tolerate The Newsroom with Slate's Dave Wiegel.

    FTFY.

  • Mike M.||

    Not exactly. Suderman, McArdle, Weigel's Buttplug, and Sadbeard Yglesias are all tight drinking buddies up on Capitol Hill.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Orange line mafia?

  • Mike M.||

    Yes.

  • Anomalous||

    Wasn't there someone here who used to ride the Orange Line a lot?

  • ||

    My heart goes out to those poor poor women who walk into the wrong DC bar.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Sorkin's a genius, which is why he needs to use news stories from over a year ago so his characters can sound wise with the benefit of hindsight.

    Jack Bauer knows the ticking time bomb is real, because he read the script all the way through.

  • SIV||

    Read the whole thing here.

    Fat chance, cosmo-boy.

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