Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The Mission To Civilise: Farewell to The Newsroom

Perhaps the saddest loss I suffered this year was the end of my favourite TV Show of the past 20 years, Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom. As I've written previously, I always love the worlds Sorkin creates, even though most seem to tire of them. The Newsroom is my very definition of a great television show, intelligent, politically aware, darkly funny and romantic. The Newsroom teaches the viewer so many things that other TV shows seem to ignore.

The through line of The Newsroom's three season run was Will McAvoy's 'Mission to Civilise', the essential premise of Don Quixote, which is used by Aaron Sorkin frequently. This isn't just a snappy catchphrase, or a so-called 'Sorkinism'. Too many critics make this mistake. Sorkin is not trying to score political points, or rewrite history. Will's 'Mission' is as realistic as Alonzo's was over 400 years before, and draws on the same basic lessons.

The Atlantis Cable Network (ACN) bears absolutely no resemblance to any Cable News Channel throughout the world. Will, Mack, Charlie, Jim, Sloan, Maggie, Don, Neil, and the rest who inhabit Sorkin's universe are all damaged characters in the best ways... because no actual human being could exhibit flaws so earnestly, and with such righteousness. ACN is therefore a fictional ideological orbit, where every choice is intellectually justified, principled and designed to emphasise 'the greater good'.

While some story lines are based on real events, I choose to believe The Newsroom has no basis in reality whatsoever. It is instead a parable, just like Don Quixote. If you accept Sorkin's ideological predilections as I do, people can use the lessons of the ACN universe to be politically, socially and intellectually responsible.

The critics can please themselves.

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