The Newsroom: News Night 2.0 Review

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This week’s episode of The Newsroom revolves around the new philosophy at News Night with Mackenzie at the wheel. The focus is to be on contents and not ratings, and not everyone seems fully on board with the new concept. Particularly Will. For whom Mackenzie has to clarify the difference between good television and the news.

The first attempt to make this distinction involves leading off the rundown with interviews on Arizona’s proposed new immigration law rather than a recap of the oil spill, which is what all other networks were leading with. The attempt proves to be ill fated when Maggie loses their most credible source defending the law to CNN and News Night has to settle for a crazy uneducated cast of characters for Will to interview. He does nothing to try to save the interview, and goes on to add a segment to the rundown where he defends an idiotic statement made by Sarah Palin so that he can appeal to his conservative base of viewers and boost his ratings without consulting Mackenzie. The show is a disaster, and it does not go unnoticed by anyone, including Charlie. Charlie, however, proves once again to be the most likable character on the show this week when he reiterates to Will that despite all the screw ups, he is always in his corner.

With the exception of one ridiculously cheesy speech from Mackenzie comparing the newsroom to a courtroom, this week Aaron Sorkin really focuses on romanticizing Will’s character rather than romanticizing the news. In the beginning of the episode, Will asks Mackenzie not to reveal to anyone on the staff the reasons for their break up. However after the introduction of Olivia Munn’s character, a beautiful young economics expert whom Mackenzie hires in an attempt to add some sex appeal to an otherwise tame news topic, combined with a very amusingly complicated new IT policy, an e-mail mix up leads Mackenzie to reveal to the entire staff that she had cheated on Will. The rumor had previously been that he had cheated on her, a rumor that was easily believable given his horrible reputation amongst his co-workers. Throughout the entire episode both Mackenzie and Charlie defend Will every chance they get. The defense seems unfounded until the end of the episode, where a tender moment from Will regarding a gentleman affected by the immigration reforms that had been discussed earlier reveals a much sweeter side to him that actually appears very genuine.

Typical fast paced Sorkin banter between Maggie and Jim’s characters seems to fall flat this week despite being a major focus of the episode. Theirs is clearly being set up as the “will they or won’t they?” relationship of the show, but neither character seems strong enough to really draw us in yet. The progression of their relationship will hopefully pick up a bit next week now that Maggie has broken up with Don, but I still doubt whether concentrating so much on their dynamic is a good move for the progression of the show as a whole.

It’s clear beyond a doubt that Sam Waterson and Jeff Daniels are carrying this show. And while this week’s emphasis on Will rather than on the news itself makes the episode a much more relatable one, any scene that doesn’t feature one of their characters felt rather slow and stagnant. Two episodes in their performances alone are strong enough to leave me wanting more, but how long can two charismatic actors make up for so many other lackluster ones? (6/10)

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