Does this preview of the second season of "The Newsroom" make you nauseous? Does it make your stomach sink at the suggestion that Aaron Sorkin is doubling down on the cheap tricks that dragged down the first season of his HBO drama? Are you made ill by the prospect that season 2 of "The Newsroom" will again be a clumsy collection of silly romantic subplots, a sanctimonious interpretation of journalism and yet another existential crisis to Will McAvoy and his News Night team?
To turn that frown upside down, you can watch the pilot of "Onion News Empire" streaming at Amazon.com. "Onion News Empire" is not the first TV venture by The Onion, a satirical news publication. However this time around, The Onion has the advantage of Sorkin's latest drama to feed it fodder. Nearly every "Onion News Empire" character has a "Newsroom" counterpart.
There is the ambitious young reporter Sam (a bright-eyed replica of "The Newsroom's" Jim) and Jillian, an ignored, pretty-but-not-pretty enough segment producer (a la "The Newsroom's" Maggie). It targets "The Newsroom's" Mack-and-Will love saga, with a romantic past hinted at between "Onion" chief exec Lalia and its top producer Ed.
"You should be nice to Jillian. There might be a romantic connection, you never know," Ed tells Sam, mocking the rampant workplace romances on "The Newsroom." "Onion News Empire" also lampoons Sorkin's flashy stylistic touches (the hit it takes on "the walk and talk" is perhaps a little too obvious), as well as his characters' righteous brand of journalism.
As an added bonus, "Onion News Empire" also features Jeffrey Tambor, of "Arrested Development" fame, as a hapless senior anchor. And the silly headlines that are the bread and butter of the original Onion publication are thrown at you at every corner (the closing credits are particularly chuckle-worthy in this department).
Amazon is previewing "Onion News Empire" along with 13 other television pilots, from which it will choose a select few, based on viewer feedback, to develop into full series. It's hard to imagine "Onion News Empire's" cheap gags carrying a full season("30 Rock" it is not). But as a standalone 27 minutes of silly Sorkin satire, it can counteract the dread wrought by "The Newsroom" preview.