"The Newsroom" debuts with ripped-from-the-headlines plot

Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Thomas Sadoski, Sam Waterston, John Gallagher, Jr., Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Alison Pill of HBO's series "The Newsroom." HBO/Brigitte Lacombe

Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Thomas Sadoski, Sam Waterston, John Gallagher, Jr., Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Alison Pill of HBO's series "The Newsroom."
HBO/Brigitte Lacombe
(CBS News) HBO took viewers inside an evening news cable broadcast Sunday night with the premiere of Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom."

(Spoiler Alert)

At the start of the first  episode in a 10-episode series, TV news anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) is seen sitting on a panel in the spring of 2010, speaking to a room full of college students. When asked why America is "the greatest country in the world," Daniels eventually says that it's not, before launching into a tirade during which he cites how far behind the United States is in literacy and math skill rankings. He blames the outburst on his vertigo medication

Fast forward, and we find McAvoy back at the office - but things are a little different since he left for his two-week vacation. His entire news staff, including his executive producer, has abandoned ship.

Faced with no team, McAvoy's boss, Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston), takes matters into his own hands, choosing McAvoy's ex-girlfriend MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) to run the program.

Once she arrives with her hand-picked senior producer, lots of banter ensues over how to handle the changeover. But things quickly pick up when the news team discovers that an oil rig has exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.

Based on the April 2010 oil disaster, the plot plays out as the newly placed news staff springs into action, trying to get to the bottom of the story.

A few well-placed sources, many phone calls and interviews later, McAvoy sits at the news desk and delivers a well-executed program.

But how realistic was it? Would the Minerals Management Services inspector really have agreed to the interview? Would the former intern-turned assistant become an associate producer within minutes? Did it seem like a realistic portrayal of a new staff in action when a story breaks?

Or does it have to be true-to-form -- since, after all, it's TV drama?

"The Newsroom" has already received a flurry of negative reviews from some of the nation's top critics with The New Yorker's Imily Nussbaum noting "It's so naive it's cynical."

Jake Tapper of The New Republic wrote, "'The Newsroom' had me contemplating that which is so feared in my industry: changing the channel. And I was watching it on DVD."

"The Newsroom" airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on HBO.

Tell us: What did you think of episode one?

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