So did I. The Great Escape does have a good pedigree -- Ron Howard and the TAR producers, but it was a big yawn as far as I'm concerned. It probably wasn't wise to set the first episode at Alcatraz; that decrepit, rubbishy, filthy place is hardly an enticement to watch.
The Newsroom is Aaron Sorkin's third attempt at a series set behind the scenes of a television show, and it's just like his other shows -- rapid speech, everyone talking alike, instant recall of tons of statistics, etc. The first episode had a long sequence of preachy idealism which I didn't buy for one minute, and I doubt that I'll watch the second episode.