Now, with the first season complete, I can't sign on to that idea. The Newsroom is, all things considered, a pretty fine piece of television. It has flaws, some of them considerable: Yes, Sorkin is guilty of occasionally returning to themes and motifs he's explored previously. Yes, he needs to get his shit together w/r/t the women on the show, some of whom have veered away from the "lovably nutty" ilk of Sports Night's Dana Whittaker and West Wing's CJ Cregg, and into the realm of downright dizziness. Yes, Will McAvoy is our protagonist, but that doesn't mean he always has to be right and virtuous. His shaming by a gay Santorum aide was one of the season's most unpredictable, and thus electrifying, moments—and Sorkin could do himself some favors by toning down the odes to the Righteous White Man (though there's something to be said for the notion that Sorkin is accidently giving a rather informative glimpse into the self-perception of boomer liberals like himself). Yes, the occasional attempts at broad physical (and drug-related) comedy have been almost entirely unsuccessful. And yes, for all of its event-checking and name-dropping, the show could hew a bit closer to political reality—there is, for example, not one person on that staff or at that network who would have believed for a second that the RNC would've gone for a "new debate format" that basically consisted of giving McAvoy license to yell at the primary candidates for two hours.
So The Newsroom's not perfect. Most TV shows (and books, and films, and so on) aren't. Among the shows that weren't perfect: Sports Night and The West Wing, which both became great television, but after initial episodes that found the writer and his team struggling mightily to find the right tone, voice, and style (and if you don't believe me, take another peek at those early, strained, laugh-track laden episodes of Sports Night). But because those shows were created by Aaron Sorkin and not AARON SORKIN, they came on the air with a low enough profile to allow for some stumbling and experimentation. Studio 60 and The Newsroom were not afforded that luxury. They were expected to be masterpieces right out of the gate, and when they weren't, they were dismissed as failures, flops, and bombs.
But The Newsroom has a lot in it to recommend: the crackling wit of Sorkin's duet dialogue scenes; the likable intrigue of the love triangle (square?) between Jim, Maggie, and Don (and Lisa); the goosebump-raising way that the show used on-screen text to reveal the BP spill and the Giffords shooting; the structural flourishes of the 2010 election episode and the season finale; that great scene where Don gives a master class in covering trashy news; the way you can see Olivia Munn finding her bearings as an actress, and how that parallels her character becoming a confident on-air personality; the brashness of Jane Fonda, the patience of David Krumholtz, the deliciousness with which Emily Mortimer says the word "douchebag," the way Jeff Daniels tosses off his throwaway lines, and the way he answered that "sorority girl"'s question the second time.