‘The Newsroom’ Recap (Season 1, Episode 2): “News Night 2.0″
The second episode seemed like a completely different show but unfortunately, still a not-great show.
After last week’s passionate premiere, episode two of The Newsroom was a complete change of pace. While the debut was 75-minutes long, this one only ran about an hour– and yet, it feels like I have aged a lifetime and gazed into the interminable chasms of time (and also micro-napped like four times) while these people put together a broadcast show. The thing is, I don’t actually want to hate The Newsroom, mostly because I have to watch the entire season for these recaps — but also because there’s clearly a lot of talent and spirit to this show. However, the show keeps messing everything up and it’s so frustrating and stupid sometimes you can’t help but be mean to it, like a really spiteful Dance Mom or something. On the positive side though, it looks like the show is picking up momentum, even if that momentum so far seems really drunken and unwieldy, so maybe things will get a bit better in upcoming episodes.
But anyways, onto the boring glory of episode two!
Picking up on the threads from last week, the episode opens with Mackenzie and Will discussing their past relationship. Will doesn’t want her to tell anyone why it ended. Mackenzie agrees not to tell. Because we have all watched television before, we know that at some point the audience will be told why it ended — it will probably form a dramatic arc, we’ll all have time to be emotionally invested in the reveal, etc. etc. Or, we’ll just find out during the middle of the episode (abruptly, stupidly) that Mackenzie cheated on Will and that’s why it’s over. The flimsy motivations behind this reveal come from the introduction of Olivia Munn’s character Sloan Sabbith (can we just all take a minute to acknowledge that Aaron Sorkin spent like 20% of his time actually writing this show and the other 80% just coming up with absurd names for these people?), who anchors a finance show on the network. Mackenzie asks Sloan to do a nightly economics segment on Will’s show because she is clearly competent and intelligent, and also has nice legs. I don’t know if that part was supposed to be a joke, because Sorkin keeps trying to write jokes, and not only is it tonally jarring for a show dealing with disastrous oil spills and tense immigration politics and a misguided news industry, it’s also awkward because none of his jokes are very good. Oh, but anyways, Mackenzie asks Sloan to take the segment, and they get to chit-chatting, and Sloan reveals that everybody thinks Will cheated on Mackenzie and additionally that he’s mean, and then Mackenzie tries to text Will saying that he has to tell everybody that she was the one who messed up because nobody should hate him. But of course, she accidentally sends a mass-text instead, and then she was late for math class and didn’t have a hall pass so she got detention because this is all very middle-school and stupid and contrived and boring and if it would just get this routine right then we could go to Nationals.
Other things that happened in this episode included:
-Will still can’t choose between ratings and integrity! This is the only consistent dramatic tension the show has. Oh, except it resolved itself by the end of the episode so I guess this was the only consistent dramatic tension the show used to have.
-We were told repeatedly that Will McAvoy is a good man. If only we were watching this drama play out on some sort of visual medium, that could show us these things instead of repeating them like a broken record…
-Maggie was entangled in a subplot with an ex-boyfriend source that led to this strange, awkward college back story, and while obviously intended to be character development, it was just confirmation that Aaron Sorkin is mishandling his female characters.
-Neal dug up an interesting story about an illegal immigrant to use as a potential story for the broadcast. Both were pretty much ignored for the rest of the episode.
-John Gallagher, Jr. I want to love you but you were so sweaty-looking this episode. In a bad way, not a glistening way.
-Tired, dated, strange digs at Sarah Palin.
-”Be the moral center of this show!” is a line of terrible dialogue that was actually uttered.
-Sam Waterston playing online poker with twelve-year-olds
-”Sam Waterston: Up To No Good” ranks at number three in my list of different, better shows The Newsroom could be if Jeff Daniels wasn’t our main character, behind “Dev Patel, Blogger” and “Emily Mortimer Is Hosting a News Show”.
-They went to a karaoke bar where a cover of Radiohead’s “High and Dry” was being sung in 2010 (who even does that?), and the episode did not even have the dignity to end itself after that, instead dragging on for like seven more minutes.
The Newsroom is still a confusing, hot mess, but for completely different reasons this week. Maybe next episode they’ll uncover a plot to steal the Declaration of Independence! I really don’t even know at this point.
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