Wednesday, September 12, 2012


This will probably be the only entry for the month, so here're 3 topics for discussion.

HBO series The Newsroom has received a lot of flak since its debut a few months ago. And I mean A LOT. A description that comes up quite often is "sanctimonious". But honestly, I don't comprehend where all this negativity is coming from.

I've been riveted since it premiered on local cable in July. Does it have flaws? Yes. To list a few - regular segments of over-the-top acting ( most glaringly from Dev Patel - someone needs to ask him to tone it down a little ); the occasional pompous line about how great journalists are (usually courtesy of Will McAvoy ); a little too much attention on a certain love triangle ( someone help me understand Maggie's appeal, 'cos I still think Jim is way too good for her ).

Sounds bad? It all depends. I've boycotted shows for much less, but continue to watch The Newsroom religiously for a number of good reasons:

1) Jeff Daniels - as lead character, Will McAvoy, Daniels is superb. Acid-tongued, sharp-minded, with acrobatic verbal skills that put even the Gilmore Girls cast to shame, this role deserved an Emmy nomination but didn't get one. A massive travesty!

2) Will McAvoy - the actor is amazing, but the character is one of the best I've seen on TV. I like to compare him to Brenda Leigh Johnson from The Closer, who's also tough, opinionated and damn good at her job.
But like all compelling figures, a vulnerable soul lurks beneath the hard exterior, and Will's insecurities are exposed surprisingly early, with more nuggets revealed as the show progresses.

The big ones tend to revolve around personal relationships ( actually, don't they all? ), but a few tip their hats to journalism as well.

I'm particularly fond of Will's comment: "I'm tired of people telling me [being cheated on] is a just-get-over-it situation. You don't know what that's like in my head." A kindred spirit! I know EXACTLY how he feels. :)

3) John Gallagher, Jr / Jim Harper - Gallagher won a Tony for playing Moritz in Broadway's Spring Awakening. It's one of my favourite musicals of all time, so woohoo! :)

I ADORE Jim. Sure, there's a lovesick puppy in most TV series, but Gallagher deftly handles the emotional depth, and shows quite a flair for comedy too.

Think George from Grey's Anatomy. I LOVE George!

4) Aaron Sorkin - whatever the critics are saying about his work on The Newsroom, don't listen to them. I honestly don't have a clue why they're so pissed off.

Okay, OTT lines aside, the gems far outnumber the duds. There's a tonne of witty banter packed into each hour-long episode. Sentences spoken at machine-gun speed, quoting statistics, C-SPAN, pop culture, etc.

But the memorable ones? When they come, you'd better be paying attention.

Will: Balance is irrelevant. It has nothing to do with truth, logic or reality.

Charlie ( Sam Waterston ): I thought you got where you were by being fearless.
Leona ( Jane Fonda ): I got where I am by knowing who to fear.

5) The stories - again, critics aren't happy that Sorkin based his writing on events which have already occurred. Again, I ask, what's the big freaking deal?

What matters is how each plot is presented on-screen, and so far, after 7 episodes, there've been at least 3 which were nothing less than AWESOME.

The pilot: how the News Night team scrambled to cover an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, turning an event which most thought wasn't newsworthy into a headline.

Episode 6: a super-tense investigation of the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown.

Episode 7: devoted to multiple perspectives related to President Obama's announcement of Osama Bin Laden's death.

If you decide to tune in but end up hating The Newsroom, then I guess it isn't quite right for you.

However, since I tried watching critically acclaimed series like Mad Men, The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire, and was practically bored to death, accolades no longer matter much to me.

True Blood isn't going to win any major awards ever, but season 5 is its best one yet, and the cast deserves credit for investing so much of themselves in their roles. Is the rampant nudity ruining the show's Emmy chances? Tsk tsk!

Another victim of unfair reviews - The Bourne Legacy. Having trawled through quite a few movie websites this past month, I am appalled by some of the nasty reviews posted. A 1/10 score? This is getting personal...

At least it's still going strong at the box office. Hasn't quite reached the takings of The Bourne Identity, but this bodes well for a sequel.

Picked up from where I left off, almost 3 months ago, following an overdose of Fifty Shades ( read book 1 then went straight into the first half of book 2 - not advisable! ).

Fortunately, Fifty Shades Darker is much more palatable once you get past the halfway mark, mostly because the frivolous outings don't make an appearance ( e.g. helicopter / boat / sports car rides ).

The writing is still laughable, and the sex romps are becoming a tad routine, but plot developments are interesting enough to keep me entertained, and after a gruelling ER shift, reading a novel that doesn't make you think too much is a great way to relax.

No news about the cast yet. Hot favourite Matt Bomer ( White Collar ) remains a top pick for many, but his sexual orientation may be an issue. Not for me though - I had no idea he's gay when I saw him on TV, and am perfectly happy if he's cast as Christian Grey.

The latest bombshell? Harry Potter's Emma Watson is game for the Anastasia Steele role if Ryan Gosling is on board as Christian. I'm all for Gosling, but Emma? Not so much.

The hunt continues...

Next entry will be in October, after I return from a much-needed holiday break. I have a strange feeling about this trip - rest assured it's a good one. Won't know if it comes true until I get back.

Till next time! :)