HBO debuted the first episode of Aaron Sorkin's new drama series The Newsroom, which stars Jeff Daniels as a cable news anchor whose work situation changes after an outburst at a panel discussion at a college university. As expected, given Sorkin's involvement, there was a lot of fast-talking dialogue and an almost unnervingly fast pace. A series like this isn't going to be for everyone, but it's certainly worth checking out. HBO isn't leaving non-subscribers out of the loop on this, however. The pay-cable network put the entire first episode of The Newsroom online. Watch it right here!
From what I've gathered on Twitter, people seem to either love the pilot or hated it. I'm of the former camp. As a fan of Sorkin and someone who's both skeptical and curious about the inner-workings of cable news, I found it intense, thought-provoking and fun. I can't wait to see what happens next.
If you don't have HBO, you won't be left out of the loop, at least not entirely. HBO wasted no time getting the series premiere online. Check it out in its entirely below.
It doesn't even look like they've bleeped out the F-bombs.
Spoilers from the above video beyond this point. Read no further if you haven't watched yet!
One of the things our recapper Jonathan brought up in his breakdown of the episode was how using a real news event to kick off the show is a bold move but "almost like we're watching a period piece." While I'll admit to being wary of the series being tied to real events (time will tell if it actually sticks to that or not), in their choice to use a real event, I liked that they used the BP oil spill as the major event being covered for the series premiere as opposed to an event involving major human casualties. While there were some casualties from the explosion, the primary focus on this event was on environmental consequences. For the sake of the premiere, they went with a major event that's relevant and still fresh enough in our minds to make an impact, without exploiting real human tragedy for the sake of drama and emotional impact.
Beyond that, the use of a real event allowed us to watch the episode from the perspective of having lived through it and knowing just how severe the situation was. It put us a little bit ahead of the characters in that way, but wed didn't have to question who was right and who was wrong during all of those early scenes when they were trying to decide whether to take the story seriously. We already knew where the story was going, so the emphasis was on wondering if they were going to nail the story or let it slip through their fingers. That created a great kind of suspense. I'll be interested to see if and when this is used again in later episodes. I think that'll all depend on whether or not they decide to veer away from the real-news angle. In the meantime, it worked for the pilot in setting up the story, introducing us to the characters, and introducing the characters to one another in the new(ish) context in which they'll be working.
The Newsroom airs Sundays at 10:00 p.m. ET on HBO. Preview next Sunday's episode here.