When I read that Jeff Daniels got the Emmy over Bryan Cranston for his performance in S02 of The Newsroom, it piqued my curiosity so I needed to watch both seasons to form my own opinion. I thought that Bryan’s Walter White was over the top in 2013 with the first half of Season 5. Did Jeff Daniel’s Will McAvoy really beat that?
First off, I agree with most critics that Season 2 was more exciting television than S01. I liked how the Genoa story developed, the fact that for the most part, the office romances took a back seat to news, the Maggie-Africa story – and as ALWAYS – Sloan. The rapid-fire dialogs are always incredibly entertaining (apparently an Aaron Sorkin trademark) and Sam Waterson’s character was wildly and joyfully erratic and fun to watch. I nearly teared up at the ending (no spoilers here though) which I found moving and apt (I mean just how many Sam and Diane scenarios can we stand in one lifetime right? and no, that’s not a spoiler because there are loads of possible combinations there). I thought that the last two episodes about the 2012 election really hit it out of the park in terms of realism and gripping television.
But was Jeff Daniels really better than Bryan Cranston? I am not convinced. Granted, I felt that Jeff was a perfectly credible Will McAvoy and that Will McAvoy was an incredible anchorman, but he didn’t really have the same range of emotions or extremes of emotions to play through as Walter White I didn’t think. You could say that his character was detached and that was what made his acting so great and I’d be inclined to say that that argument didn’t really work for me when Ben Affleck got the Oscar for Argo without changing facial expressions once. Actually I felt Daniels did a much better job than Affleck (who I really found abysmal and undeserving of Hollywood’s greatest prize) but still, not as compelling as Cranston.
All that being said, The Newsroom is an excellent show and maybe more exciting to watch than Season 5 of The Wire – albeit that was about printed media / newspapers rather than network TV.
So, did you watch The Newsroom? Will you be watching the final season this fall?