HBO's The Newsroom will premiere this Sunday, and many are wondering whether the series will be the network's next major hit. In the tradition of films such as Network and Good Night, and Good Luck, the show grants viewers access to the messy unseen world of the television newsroom.
The high-octane drama entered the early stages of development in 2009, and it was officially picked up by HBO last year. Interestingly enough, it centers on hot-button issues that surfaced a few years back, such as the debate surrounding the Tea Party.
Here's what you need to know before the show's premiere.
The Premise: The ensemble series focuses on the tumult that occurs behind the scenes of a network news show. Jeff Daniels stars as a popular anchor, Will McAvoy, who is known for his neutrality and political correctness. Dubbed the Jay Leno of news anchors for his unaggressive demeanor, McAvoy is covertly frustrated with the way news coverage is policed by corporations.
While giving a talk at a university, McAvoy is badgered with frustrating questions until he cracks. He furiously comments on the horrendous state of the U.S., revealing his liberal ideas. The incident sparks an outburst of public disfavor. He is abandoned by his staff and forced to work with an entirely new team. His newly assembled staff must scramble to preserve his reputation while generating sufficient viewership.
Reasons To Watch: Created by Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, The Newsroom offers an intriguing social commentary and stellar dialogue. Besides Daniels, the series features such notable actors as Emily Mortimer, Dev Patel, and Sam Waterston.
Much like Sorkin's sharply penned The Social Network, the series illustrates the detrimental effects of the Internet age. It also explores how ratings dictate news coverage.
What The Critics Are Saying: Entertainment Weekly joked that the show's initial trailer made us want to cash in our 401k and move to Canada.
Other outlets weren't so complimentary.
I have an idea for an Aaron Sorkin show. It's gonna be called THE MAGAZINE, and it will give you an inside look at an industry you don't give a s--- about, and magazine critics will swoon over it because it's about them, wrote Gawker's Drew Magary.
Many of the reviews of the series' pilot episode have been mixed.
For the first hour, the show seems promising, especially for Sorkin fans. After that, things go into a baffling free-fall in which plot exists almost solely to support the political and cultural points Sorkin wants to make, often in non sequitur monologues, concluded the Los Angeles Times.
However, a few critics have rushed to The Newsroom's defense.
Excepting people who are major political junkies, Hollywood insiders, or intimately familiar with the inner workings of sports broadcasting, noted Maggie Furlong of the Huffington Post, the rapid-fire jargon and weekly storylines of Sorkin's previous TV shows -- The West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and Sports Night, respectively -- were often just a little (or a lot) over most viewers' heads.
But with 'The Newsroom,' which takes place behind the scenes at a cable news show, wrote Furlong, viewers have a very distinct advantage: We've already seen this news.