This past week an HBO series finished its last, six episode season, which was Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom. In this truncated season Sorkin actually got to end a show of his on his own terms, which was something that didn't happen with The West Wing (which he left after the fourth season) or Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (which was canceled during the first). This time Sorkin got to wrap up the stories for his characters, along with a brief arc about a whistleblower that also, for all its importance, resolved itself without a lot of drama in the end.
I always enjoyed The Newsroom for what it was, legitimate complaints about it aside. The truth is I can really watch anything Aaron Sorkin writes, and I'm kind of into it whether it's actually good or not (and this was a much better show than Studio 60, trust me). I think the death knell was the corner he wrote himself into with the setup by tying all the plots to actual news events, so that it literally took place in the real world where Obama's president, etc. This would always lead to him as a writer having the benefit of hindsight on how the press should have actually covered real news events as they happened, which a lot of critics came to despise as being riddled with overbearing smugness and/or preachiness. That might have been the case, but in spite of that fact, I did enjoy the characters, the actors (many of whom were great on this show) and the fictional storylines he came up with for the ACN crew, last year involving a botched investigative news story they were covering, this time the Snowden-esque whistleblower.
It's a shame that the stars of the show weren't Olivia Munn and Thomas Sadoski, both of whom had supporting roles that turned into the very best characters on the series, not least of which were because both of the actors proved to be natural and perfect fits for Sorkin's rapid fire dialogue. They also had real chemistry with each other, which turned them into the only couple worth rooting for (this show liked to play mix and match with romances but most of them were deadly dull), and I would have given anything to see a Newsroom spinoff starring Sloan and Don instead of Will (even though Jeff Daniels was good, Will could be annoying) and Mackenzie (Emily Mortimer never really rose above the level of fine for me). Other standouts on the show were Sam Waterston, Chris Messina, and Jane Fonda, all of whom lit up the screen with their presence whenever given good material to work with. It wasn't often enough though, seeing as they all had limited amounts of screentime in favor of the boring Jim and Maggie (tedious characters played on the Emily Mortimer level from Alison Pill and John Gallagher, Jr.).
The Newsroom was sort of a mixed bag, a show that could have easily been improved by plucking out the characters that worked (Sloan, Don, Charlie, Reese, Leona and Dev Patel's Neal), and tossing out the real world aspect of the news events, and then I could have seen it really becoming a great series. It was often times very close to that during its run- the elements were all there, it just needed a little more finessing. But as it was, it remained eminently watchable and enjoyable until the end, and I hope Sorkin takes the hint and brings Olivia Munn along for his next foray into television, because she was so funny, relaxed and natural with his style that it'd be a shame to think she wouldn't have a chance to do something else in this vein (and this time carry it herself). So long Newsroom- you were fun, irritating, hilarious and aggravating all at once. I'm kinda going to miss you.