It wasn't as good as The West Wing, of course, but what I disliked about The Newsroom the most was, unexpectedly, the opening theme music. It brought back some post-traumatic-stress-esque flashbacks of seminary.
Obviously, I'm exaggerating. Seminary was not nearly bad enough to have given me any kind of legitimate PTSD. But watch this opening sequence and tell me if the score, especially the first half of it, doesn't conjure up images in your head of some attractive young actor of wholesome appearance poring over a copy of the Book of Mormon with a righteously goofy grin on his face:
It's stupid, but as a television fan, I love a good opening theme. From the triumphant orchestral swells of The West Wing to the ominous jauntiness of Dexter to the upbeat madness of 30 Rock or Futurama, a great opening theme excites a viewer familiar with the music and gets him pumped about the episode to follow. But with The Newsroom, I can't shake the association with cheesy seminary videos. And so I begin each episode with mixed feelings—I can tell that the music is beautifully written and laudably performed, but it still conjures up memories of "...and my soul hungered...."
This is not the first time I've come across this phenomenon. It's difficult to describe exactly what properties qualify a piece of music as "seminary-video-like," but apparently I know it when I hear it.
The first time I can remember discovering my distaste for this kind of thing was when I was exploring modern progressive rock and I stumbled across a band named Spock's Beard. Something about the singer Neal Morse's voice, or maybe his vocal melodies, felt very seminary-like. And when I listened to Transatlantic, a side project of Morse's, the song "Bridge Across Forever" made me realize what I was associating him with—the song is the most seminary-like non-seminary song I've ever heard in my life:
I later learned that Neal Morse had abandoned Spock's Beard following his conversion to Christianity, and for a while I thought maybe Christian music and seminary music sounded similar to me. Except that "Bridge Across Forever" was recorded a couple of years before Morse became Christian.
It's a mystery, I suppose, but one that I find interesting. As best as I can tell, the music that gives me seminary flashbacks tends to be down-tempo, with emotionally-charged (or emotionally manipulative) melodies and lyrics, with orchestral instrumentation (as opposed to rock instrumentation), and with a general bittersweet vibe. There are definitely a lot of unidentifiable, unquantifiable attributes at play, though.
But apparently this kind of mental association with the agonizing brainwashing session before school every day is strong enough to taint my enjoyment of The Newsroom. Luckily the episodes are almost a full hour long, so I've mostly forgotten about any early morning seminary associations by the time the dramatic climax rolls around.
Brains are weird. They have all kinds of tricksy things to tease their owners with.