If this premiere episode has done anything definitively in framing the rest of the story it has to be drawing lines of how the audience views the characters, Aaron Sorkin does this by letting the audience in on the truth with the full arsenal of hindsight at their disposal.
We see Will (a brilliant Jeff Daniels, and a far cry from Dumb and Dumber) as an idealist stuck in the muck of what the media has become and dying to find a way out. He becomes willing to take a chance on the actual execution of reporting the news no matter if his reputation is on the line for a misstep. He gets reenergized by the mere presence of Mackenzie (Emily Mortimer) and decides to go big or go home. Don(Thomas Sadowski) on the other hand is stuck in his conventional role of waiting for news to turn “red” to report and admonishing any other opinions or leads. With the audience knowing the severity of the oil spill Sorkin is basically asking us to scream at Don through the TV using all kinds of expletives.
The most interesting character is Mackenzie so far. Mackenzie is the catalyst behind all this newfound enthusiasm for reporting the news as it should be reported; although Charlie (Sam Waterson) should get some serious credit for orchestrating everyone and having them fall into place, even with a constant buzz going. Mackenzie storms on the scene with optimism only a jaded rookie can have, but she is far from an amateur at the news game and her devotion is infectious.
Those characters have already begun to shine after the first 72 minutes of the series and we can expect big things from the rest.
Neal (played by Dev Patel who is blessed or cursed with never-ending association with Slumdog Millionaire), Jim (played by John Gallagher Jr.), and Maggie (played by Allison Pill who is no stranger to HBO from “In Treatment” and where we found out she is capable of big things) will undoubtedly have bigger roles as the season progresses, both inside and outside the newsroom.
After the first episode Sorkin has clearly found his groove with witty banter, strong characters and an exciting trajectory. There is no way to know which direction this series will take but this cast of randoms seems to be the real deal to take on Aaron Sorkins’ vision.