{TB Talks TV} The Newsroom Review: “Boston”



Tweetable Takeaway: Whistleblower leaks, terrorist attacks, and a hostile takeover.  The Newsroom has a lot on its plate this week.

Airtime:Sunday at 9pm on HBO
By: Jeff Iblings, Contributor

is back for its third and final season. Interestingly enough, the story we’re getting from Aaron Sorkin is that this may be the end of his television career. Newsroom has been a polarizing show, people either love it or hate it. I’ve enjoyed it so far, but that’s not to say there aren’t things about the show that bug me a little. Luckily I’ve been able to look past them and just enjoy it.

I may be one of the only people who has not watched The West Wing. The first time I knew I was watching an Aaron Sorkin work was Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip. It was a crappy name for a television show, but I loved it anyway having grown up on Saturday Night Live in it’s heyday. I always thought his show was misunderstood, or before its time, and perhaps it’s the same here. We’ll only really know in hindsight, which is how the news is presented to us in the show.

Every season deals with something that’s been in the news several years ago, as if it’s the present. This may be one of the reasons people get annoyed with the show so much, they already know what happens in the particular news story the season is built around. To be honest, that doesn’t bother me very much. It’s like watching a period piece. No one (unless they’re evil) hates period pieces. Look at Mad Men’s popularity. Just think of The Newsroom as a period piece set a year and a half in the past. They say that hindsight is 20/20, but take it with a grain of salt as Sorkin always has an axe to grind.

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His “agenda”, as you will, usually comes out of the mouth of Will McAvoy, his proxy on the show played by Jeff Daniels. I’ve found Daniels to be wonderful in this drama. Sure he’s an arrogant know it all asshole, but dammit, he’s misunderstood. He is the person that the entire staff of the newsroom buzzes around. McAvoy is the center of this universe, with all of the many characters in orbit around him. That’s not to say the other characters have no inner lives other than to please Will, because that’s just not true. A lot of them are wonderful, or hilarious, or just insightful and surprising. One or two of them are tedious, but those are just a few drops in a bucket that’s full of interesting story.

This season we take a view of the Boston Marathon bombing through the eyes of The Newsroom team. It catches Will and MacKenzie by surprise in the middle of a debate on the merits of bridesmaids and groomsmen for their impending nuptials. ACN needs to be careful about what they report, since last season saw The Newsroom team get in serious trouble that harmed both their credibility and the future of their broadcast. They reported a damning story about the US military that turned out to be false, which makes them a bit gun shy to jump on the bombing story before they have any hard facts. They are struggling in the ratings in the aftermath of last season’s SNAFU and coming in late on the Boston incident isn’t helping them out any.

Another storyline that’s being examined this season has to do with the Edward Snowden leaks. Here we have the lovable Neal, the tech guy, out of his element doing spy like shit just to get his hands on a flash drive containing thousands of top-secret government . Here we find a journalist in a grey area when it comes to whistle-blowers. Neal has unwittingly committed a felony in helping the informant smuggle from the US government. I expect us to be taken on a ride of what it’s like to be a journalist breaking from confidential sources during the Obama presidency. If you haven’t been paying attention, the Justice Department under the Obama regime has prosecuted and went savagely after journalists to get them to give up their confidential sources threatening them with jail time if they refused. It’s creepy shit in what’s supposed to be a democracy, and I imagine Mr. Sorkin has a lot to say about this particular subject.

Sorkin does his best work when the environment the show is set in has a built in frenetic pace and constant threats of interruption or derailment. Think about it, Sports Night, The West Wing, Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip, and The Newsroom … 3 set in television studios and one in the most nerve-wracking control center in North America, if not the world. There are always last minute hiccups, unseen interruptions, and events beyond ones control which swiftly need to be dealt with in all of these situations. These are fast paced people in a world where to slow down is to die, and their dialogue is as rapid fire as you would expect. One only needs to rewatch The Social Network to see how quick paced and on the ball his actors need to be to keep up with their lines. Luckily Sorkin is a master of dialogue. That’s not to say that all of his dialogue rings true, with so much verbiage flying about there’s bound to be a few turds in the basket. They are rare, and for me, excusable.

More after the break:

–  Last season Maggie was an absolute wreck of a human being. Besides being in a love triangle between Jim and Hallie, she had some massive PTSD from an incident at an African Orphanage. She’s still recovering, and possibly can’t do her anymore, but Jim believes in her, and possibly still loves her even though he’s with Hallie.

–  Speaking of Hallie … she’s played by Grace Gummer who is Meryl Streep’s daughter. Let me just get this off of my chest: I am so sick of seeing her in every single show I seem to watch. She’s everywhere, and I for one have had enough! Who’s with me?

–  Don and Sloan are fun as hell to watch together, and secretly dating. Why is it a secret? I have no idea, but together they find out about a shadowy hostile takeover of ACN that’s being instigated by Reese’s stepbrothers.

–  Everything comes to a head at once at the end of this episode. Shit hits the fan, and everything may be unraveling at once. Can they get out in front of it and control it?

–  Sam Waterston is the best part of this entire show. He cracks me up several times an episode, and has an energy that’s contagious.


For six months out of the year Jeff is holed up in his home with nothing to do but shovel snow, watch television, write, and dream of warmer climates.
Twitter: @OfSoundnVision

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