The Newsroom Episode 10: The Greater Fool
Most procedurals wait at least 21 episodes before putting a main character in the hospital/hostage situation/mortal danger. Not The Newsroom. The first few minutes of the 10th episode have a medical crisis (in false climax to a death threat) and Will hinting ‘I may not come back.’ Then we start going backwards through the days leading up to said crisis. Story structure hasn’t been super consistent all season. While this structure isn’t incredibly impressive, neither was it horrendous . . . until it started switching between dates and ‘(number) days earlier.’
In order of terribleness:
Character continuity. In 10 episodes Will has gone from refusing to talk about his political leaning to talking to friends about it to telling the world he’s a Republican, the better to serve as a storytelling crutch – albeit an effective one. The gossip columnist is suddenly self-aware.
Shoehorning Storylines. Specifically, a storyline about Sex in the City, because the entire writing staff is dating Kristin Davis. The first little mini-segment was awkward enough before it got turned into a whole friggin storyline! Maggie’s reaction to the bus was my reaction; spread arms, gaping mouth and all.
The romance square-that-is-now-a-pentagon.
NSA story. That took a considerable amount of time and effort to not land at all. They could have come to the same conclusions without Solomon Hancock and his subterfuge. Perhaps they thought putting a face to it and adding the suicide would make the viewers feel emotionally invested, but it did nothing but fluff and frustrate.
In order of splendidness:
Actual News Segments. In the News Night storyline, minimized as it was, The Newsroom finally managed to land a story that is truly timely. The Voter ID clusterfuck was a newsworthy problem then and is still going on, only more widespread and with even more crazy. Most news programs lean heavily on human intrest to carry their stories, though not even a line about “why are we focusing on your nurses’ aunt?” is inexcusable. You know what would make more time for examining this storyline? Less of any(every)thing else mentioned above.
Not much else is worth commenting on. Instead of being too full of news references and tantrums and dialogue, this episode was full of characters and their overblown crisises, and wrapping up threads that we don’t really care about – especially since we sw the ending coming a mile away. Which is the biggest problems about doing the news in reverse.
This episode lost all of the ground gained by the last couple installments, coming across as parts of four different shows. Let’s go with 24; Sex and the City; Coupling (US version); and 60 Minutes; though many others that rely on melodrama or assembly-line-romantic-comedy could be swapped in.
At least [SPOILER] Will didn’t get shot at the end. Or t-boned. Because that’s the easiest way for it to have gotten worse, and I fully, totally expected it.
This season had some good moments. It even had a few (in the pilot and in episodes 8 and 9, mostly) that were flashes of greatness. It’s still heavily burdened with a host of other problems I’ve enumerated in individual episode posts, (if you’re looking for a more thorough – and alphabetized – listing of some The Newsroom foibles, you can see that here) and it’s got that blackest of all TV curses, ‘potential.’ The way the format could morph as we go from past to present to future still dances elusively in front of me, promising great things, and even greater ability to yell at the TV when a branded bus carrying a jilted lover splashes water on a ditzy heroine.
I and these reviews will be back for the second season. We’ll also be getting a season overview/recap soon from friend-of-blog Dale.
Thanks for reading. Network TV is almost back, so stay tuned.
For The Record
- I know I asked for more Sloane and Don, but not I repeat not together. Apparently, I need to be clearer when I wish for things. So hows this for a clear wish? Please give me Because I am wishing for anything that is NOT THIS THING.
- Mackenzie having occasional freakouts and hitting people with pillows. Silly female. She’s just so petulant.
- Angry Black Woman is overused. I don’t care how amusing your character/actress and valiant her cause. Stop. Overusing. It.
- Like HBO’s Big Love, I feel The Newsroom‘s music selections are good (if somewhat classic and anthemic), but misused. You can’t use Teenage Wasteland just because you like the guitar and one of the lines is relevant. Especially when you play the lyrics over a montage.
- Charlie used the lines ‘you’re one of us’ and ‘stand for something’ in the same breath. Oy.
- Mackenzie could not have been carrying around that pad of paper for a year just waiting to show it to Will, because they wouldn’t look that pristine. All of the curse words.