The Newsroom concluded one of the most buzzworthy seasons of any show in recent memory on Sunday. Was it positive buzz? Negative? Both at once, sometimes from the same fan or critic regarding the same episode?
Talk about a polarizing, confounding show to watch and review. But we gave it our best, and now I'll do my best to relive the best and worst from The Newsroom in this TV Fanatic Report Card...
Best Character: Gotta be Will McAvoy, right? He may have sat on a soapbox for most of every episode, and I may have wanted to throw many drinks in his face myself, but he was the driving force of the show and I did agree with pretty much every word out of his mouth while he stood on that soapbox at least.
Worst Character: MacKenzie McHale. What a total mess of a character. Introduced as a tough, war reporting veteran who knew how to control Will and her studio, MacKenzie quickly devolved into a finger-counting, ankle-spraining, shriek-filled wet blanket who pined after Will left and right. Emily Mortimer excelled in the role; it was simply poorly written.
Best Episode: "The Blackout Part 1: Tragedy Porn." An amazing speech by Maggie, an actual backbone shone by MacKenzie and a storyline based more on the characters themselves than some message about some major news story from two years ago.
Worst Episode: "5/1." Total manipulation all around. An episode that didn't care about serving the characters in any way, just in tugging at our 9/11-related heartstrings.
Least Funny Moment: Jim running into the glass door. No, wait, Will falling over while trying on a pair of pants. Both of these slapstick moments and many others were painful to watch and far below the high standards previously set by Aaron Sorkin. Or so I would have thought.
Most Poorly Handled Love Triangle: Do I really need to say it? And must we now call it a love square - or even pentagon - following Sloan's admission to Don on the season finale?
Hopes for Season 2: Where to start?!? I've never enjoyed watching a bad TV show more in my life. The use of hindsight is a lazy cheat; the women are portrayed as rambling weaklings; the romantic entanglements are horribly handled; the jumping forward of weeks or even months at a time makes it impossible to really follow characters or relationships, as the series mostly cares about making grand speeches and statements about the state of journalism and politics these days. And yet...
... those speeches are often mesmerizing! The performances are terrific! And - what can I say? - it can be inspiring to hear a character go off on a topic about which I've also been angered over the recent years (see Maggie versus Michele Bachmann's claims about God; Will's comparison of the Tea Party versus the Founding Fathers.).
As a television series, The Newsroom is poorly constructed. But it is ambitious and, for all the criticism leveled against it, this is not a dumb show. It's not cliche-ridden and it's definitely original. That's refreshing.
Overall Grade: B-.
Your turn, TV Fanatic: What grade would YOU give The Newsroom Season 1?