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Monday, July 23, 2012

The Newsroom: "Amen"

In its handful of episodes to date, Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom has committed every sin, narrative and otherwise, imaginable. The show has been criticized and in some quarters pilloried as sexist, naïve, revisionist, biased, reductive, unrealistic, obnoxious, and crass. In many instances I agreed with these criticisms while in others I thought reviewers were being too demanding, expecting the greatness of mid-run The West Wing without any of the traditional flaws of early-run episodes. However, last night’s episode committed a new sin, on that I find harder to forgive: it was boring.

The episode covers two non-related but simultaneous historical events, the protests in Tarir Square and the union protests against Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, although the latter story is barely covered, probably leaving it to a later day, when the Koch brothers involvement will be a battleground between Will and Leona.

Will’s protégé Elliott is covering the riots from the relative safety of his hotel room, leaving NewsNight without the raw footage it craves. But Elliott the news man’s effort to get out in the streets is rewarded with a rock to the head, a broken arm and a few broken ribs. Luckily, the serious nature of this story is largely shoved aside so that we can get to Maggie hitting Jim with a glass door (twice!) and Don and Neal can each injure themselves in improbable fashion, all so Will can have more ammunition for his “real journalists” speech to Nina Howard.

The rest of the episode largely concerns itself with the fallout from Wade’s decision to run for Congress, opening up Mac to ethics inquiries, even from her own network, and to the quest to get ACN’s Egyptian stringer ransomed from his kidnapper. Both problems can be solved by Will’s checkbook, but in one instance the payoff is ethical and the other is not, so of course perfect man Will McAvoy only writes one check.

Let’s breakdown this week’s episode in terms of the Inspiring vs. the Infuriating:

Inspiring: Neal’s London bombing story. Sloan’s tutorial on Glass-Steagall? Not a whole lot here this week.

Infuriating: Mackenzie can’t do math! Mackenzie didn’t understand This Old House! Mackenzie doesn’t know a thing about economics! Even when Mackenzie tries to learn about economics, she can’t keep her mind off her boy problems! Lisa the fashion chick loves Valentine’s Day and hates being stood up! Will’s love of Rudy is predicated on the cheesiest, most made-up scene in the film, and then the recreation of it in the office gets the dynamics all wrong!

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