{TB Talks TV} The Newsroom Review: “Oh Shenandoah”

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Tweetable Takeaway: Watch a show swan dive into mediocrity with the recent episode of #TheNewsroom.

Airtime:Sunday at 9pm on

By: Jeff Iblings, Contributor

I’m not going to parse words when I talk about this week’s episode of THE NEWSROOM, it sucked. I’m saying this as a person who’s enjoyed the hell out of most of what has been on display from Sorkin this season, but my bullshit warning sensor went off like crazy the minute a title card stating “52 days later” appeared on screen. Everything that followed felt like a complete and total cop out.

First of all, jumps in time rarely work well in television, unless it is Mad Men and the time jump is unseen and between seasons. I don’t think the “6 months later” type of thing even works in films. The minute a title card like this comes up, you can rest assured that what follows is just a convenient way to wrap things up without having to do the hard working of figuring out the story in a fulfilling way. I actually dare someone, anyone to please give me an example where a jump in time has been fulfilling or well crafted. I really don’t think there is one. Please, prove me wrong.

Like I said, everything that occurred after the jump in time felt forced and insincere. I was watching Sorkin trying to button everything up, grab every lose string, and tie them all together no matter how ugly the connections end up looking. There were far too many convenient happenstances to be satisfying. The leaker committing suicide in front of the DOJ was one of the biggest story faux pas in the night full of them. It made Will’s release from prison unearned. It felt cheap. He was allowed to sit in his prison cell in relative peace, and a stupid suicide is what helps him get out. Dumb.

Lets talk for a second about his cellmate/his father’s ghost. How lame was that? What was the purpose of that entire segment, other than try to knock Will down off his high horse? If he had father issues in past seasons, it must have completely escaped me. Does he need to rub elbows with a (sort of) common man to appreciate what he has, or was Sorkin just trying to fill up time? Either way, every time Will was on screen it was groan inducing.

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The worst, most pointless piece of story tonight though, was how Charlie was used. I don’t for a minute believe after all of the fighting for integrity we’ve seen him do, that he’d bow to Pruit’s ridiculous demands to dumb down the news like we are shown. Charlie would be one of the first people to walk off the and take the entire staff with him, not the first to fold and then become a hard ass about following the company line. It irritated me to no end. And that huge blowout argument slash fatal heart attack he had in the middle of it made no narrative sense either. He was one of the best characters in the show, and here he is reduced to a cheap emotion grabbing story element.

The most painful part of the episode had to be the excruciating way Don dealt with the college girl who’d been raped. It was a constant barrage of cringe inducing dialogue, where one minute Don is an asshole and the next apologetic. Sure, his intentions for dissuading her from doing the show were noble, but he also came off as a bit of a rape apologist for the accused. What is even more awkward, is that this episode was filmed perhaps months ago, but aired at the same time as the big shit storm from the Rolling Stone story about campus rapes at the University of Virginia. Campus sexual assault is a real problem, but the way it’s handled in this episode is not helpful to the conversation, and did no favors for the show. It also takes one of the few interesting characters in The Newsroom and makes him look like a real asshole.

More after the break:

–  The way Pruit tears apart ACN and turns it into something digital and shitty seems like the mirror image of how Chris Hughes has created a massive upheaval at The New Republic. At least in real life, the employees stuck to their guns and walked off the in solidarity. In The Newsroom instead of being true to himself, Charlie enforces Pruit’s terrible ideas and slowly becomes a tyrant in his own right. What a missed opportunity Mr. Sorkin. What’s been the point of this show, integrity no? Why jettison this integrity this deep in the show, why not reinforce it instead? How disappointing.

–  Jim and Maggie. I can’t think of a more uninteresting way to get these two characters together. Anticlimactic is an understatement. It also didn’t feel earned, it felt convenient.

–  Here’s hoping something redeeming happens in the final episode next week, but I’m not holding my breath. There’s nothing more depressing than watching a show that seems to really be on track take a huge swan dive. If you’ve never seen a champ transform into a schlub, stick around for the finale.

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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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2 Comments

  1. Andrew Millwood on

    Wow! That really is disappointing! As for pointing out a time jump that may have actually been an interesting step for the development of a plot, I’d point out the time jump at the end of last season of Parks and Rec. I think it made sense in the case for that story and for the sake of the next season being the last. That way we have a whole season to deal with what follows and I don’t have a bad feeling about that one. That being said, we have not seen anything past the initial set up that time jump gave us. It just set things up for the final season. I’m with you in the time jump hate, but I trust Parks and Recreation to make it a worthwhile investment for their final season.

  2. I haven’t seen the Parks and Recs version, perhaps it will work out. I will say that The Newsroom redeemed itself in the final episode. Sorkin was able to jump from a steaming pile of shit episode to one that wrapped up the series in a wonderful way.

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