I Watched The Newsroom!

I’ve had a lot of time to think about this and I have come to the following conclusion about Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom.

Strap yourselves in, because I don’t think anyone else has said this about it.

Here goes. This is my opinion, and it is mine and I do not believe anyone else has expressed this.

Meh.

Seriously, just that.

Meh.

I’m not a West Winger, I watched precisely thirty seconds of Studio 60 and I have no predisposition in either direction about Sorkin’s talents as a writer.

Some of his dialogue is great, whip-crack sharp and delivered by a cast I quite like.

Some of The Newsroom is painfully expositional and deliriously earnest in its intent.

Sam Waterston is perfectly cast for that role, given his long history on Law & Order delivering some pretty dumb lines for the benefit of its brain-dead audience segment.

“Show don’t tell” is what I learned about writing for television and the theatre, Sorkin does and awful lot of telling, mostly via statistics that make my head spin.

The cast, as a whole (and I include Waterston) in my assessment, is terrific. Everybody plays their part well and the male characters are well developed if, in a few instances, irritating.

The women, unfortunately, are not well-written or developed. This probably makes their performances even better, struggling as they are under weightily sexist storylines.

They mostly seem to be rushing about trying to impress the men in the office and this drove me a bit nuts. They certainly weren’t confection or eye-candy afterthoughts, they just seemed to be there to support the male stories and their egos.

I suspect that Sorkin just doesn’t know how to write women who aren’t subservient AND unbearably masculine.

I think the crux of my ‘meh’-ness was that it just doesn’t entertain me on a sustainable level. The episodes are really up and down and are only lent tension by the event that they are covering.

The Osama Bin Laden Assassination episode was very good but was utterly ruined by a wave of self-indulgent, cloying do-gooder moments from various members team in the direction of peripheral cast expressly injected into the story to support those moments.

I can handle sentimentality but it was saccharine and ruined the show.

And that’s kind of where I left it. I went to watch episode 8 but thought, why? I know what’s coming, I know Sorkin’s position about the events that are unfolding in a media that is free from responsibility and I agree with him.

It’s an extended attack on the hollowness of modern (read Fox) news, but we get it from Mackenzie’s first production meeting with the new team. We get it.

News is crap, and dumbed down and often riddled with lies. We know, we have the same problem in almost every single English-speaking Western country that has bought into the news culture of the US.

I can’t keep nodding and saying, “Yes, so true,” without then asking, “Can we move on now?”

It kind of turned into Q&A without the right-wing troll. So extra boring, then.

Also, I don’t believe for a moment that Jeff Daniels’ Will McAvoy is a Republican, not for one second. Not because I despise Republicans in general (many of them are very sensible people) but because he talks like the Democrat that Sorkin obviously is.

And that’s all the show has turned out to be – a mouthpiece for Sorkin, masquerading as balanced rhetoric.

So yeah.

Meh.

This Is How It’s Done – Meet the Superhumans

My ever-patient Twitter followers have seen me banging on about this video.

It’s called Meet The Superhumans and it’s the promo for the UK’s Channel 4 coverage of the 2012 Paralympics.

I don’t mind telling you, I was completely blown away by it, and for a number of reasons.

I don’t have much truck with the whole “I’ve worked so hard to get here” schtick that most Olympics promotional stuff is full of, particularly in Australia.

Networks like to run this line that elite sport doesn’t have hundreds of millions of dollars thrown at it by adoring governments and billions more from adoring sponsors because it’s all down to the individual athlete and their lovely genes, isn’t it?

It’s poppycock of course, in all but the most obscure of sports. Professional athletes participating at an Olympic level have made a choice to be that person, participate and devote themselves to that sport because they were spotted as kids and had free trainers and free education thrown at them.

The Paralympics is very different. The athletes at the Paralympics have really had to fight – prejudice, ignorance and their own disability.

Meet the Superhumans nails that message home in a bold, uncompromising and unpatronising way. Nobody’s smiling warmly, there’s no blonde rich girl with sponsors dripping off her bitching about the 4am starts at the pool, it’s telling us the truth – these are people with a disability, not disabled people.

These Paralympians aren’t necessarily pretty but they’re not standing there asking for your pity or mithering applause. We see explosions in Iraq, car crashes, stumps. We see people routinely ignored by the corporate gloss of the Olympics.

We see people who really have had to work very hard indeed just to live, to survive. It’s awesome. I love it. It’s a fantastic job and it is abundantly clear that Channel 4 aren’t just along for the ride, the people running the coverage not only care but they understand.

It’s a huge leap forward for the promotion of the Paralympics and the portrayal of the people with a disability is refreshingly free from right-on politics or patronising back-patting.

Nice work, Channel 4. Nice work.