Monday, June 25, 2012

NEW SHOW: The Newsroom

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Yep! We're actually going to give an HBO show a try! I've been fairly excited about The Newsroom for a while now, as I enjoy behind-the-scenes stuff. And, my husband is a very big fan of Aaron Sorkin, so I'm rather familiar with Sports Night and Studio 60 and some of his film work as well. Plus, I have been baffled by all of the negative publicity that this show has been receiving, so I just had to see for myself! And, well, I disagree. I liked the pilot. A lot. I wasn't in love with it... but who needs to be glued to a show after a single episode, anyway? There's room for improvement (but, hey, Olivia Munn hasn't shown up yet), but I think that this show might thoroughly fascinate me... as long as I remember that they take the AP wires as seriously as I take Twitter, LoL. Anyway, here's a recap and my remarks about the pilot episode. What did YOU think? I'm particularly interested in hearing from you if you enjoyed the show... because, as it seems, many did not.

The Newsroom "We Just Decided To" (S01E01): There's nothing like jumping right into a debate. [I was eerily reminded of Boss, where a guy keeps seeing everything that's going on around him but his mind is silently elsewhere. especially with the lighting and muted sound except for Will's breathing.] The big holdup is that Will doesn't give his political allegiance, ever. He's the Jay Leno of news anchors, just keeping everyone happy. [and I can respect that.] Well, another question comes up - what makes America the greatest country in the world? One person jumps at the chance to announce "diversity" as an answer, while "freedom" is the other go-to. Will tries to say "the New York Jets," only to be told that he needs to give a real answer. Well, Will sees someone in the back of the room (later revealed to be Mackenzie) holding a sign that says, "it's not." After some contemplating, Will runs with that answer, talking about how we used to be an awesome country.... but we now need to realize that we have a problem. We are among ~200 sovereign nations that have freedom, so that doesn't set us apart. We have too many incarcerated citizens and spend too much on defense, and apparently we also have a high percentage of people who believe in angels. After walking out, Will claims to have had a vertigo episode and doesn't know what he said.

Three weeks later, Will returns from a vacation (with Erin Andrews in St. Lucia) to find the majority of the staff in his newsroom gone. He's told to immediately see Charlie (the resident drunk), where he learns that Elliot, Will's protege, will be taking over the 10pm slot, and he's taking Don (Will's executive producer) and most of the staff. We soon learn that Don asked to leave, and that many of Will's employees are not his biggest fans - the longest he's ever worked with someone is 13 weeks. [do we think that a syndication joke is coming?] The bottom line is that Will is smart and talented, but not very nice. Charlie has already hired a new EP for Will: Mackenzie, an overworked correspondent who needs a break from the extreme global coverage she's been doing. Will immediately vetoes the idea, but he doesn't actually have contractual approval, so he heads off to his agent to demand something be done.

We meet Margaret (Maggie), an intern-turned-assistant who has been dating Don, for four months now, and wants him to meet her parents. [sound like a certain couple on Sports Night, anyone?] He's not keen on the idea and asks her to make an excuse for him, just as Mackenzie shows up. Mackenzie takes an instant liking to Maggie and promotes her to associate producer. Mackenzie also uses the knowledge of Maggie & Don's relationship to have her own assistant, Jim, flirt with Maggie to get Don jealous. [what's her prerogative here?]

As Mackenzie and Will talk, we learn that they have quite the history, even though he hasn't been keeping up with her emails for three years. He's managed to turn her three-year contract into 156 one-week contracts, now, so he can fire her at the end of the week if he so chooses. Not the most interesting clause until you find out that he gave up $3M in order to be able to have this power. [whoa.] She talks of how she wants Will's show to be good AND popular, but he says that's a combination that can't be done. [Cervantes, Don Quixote, and Man of La Mancha references all pop up. and then some Antonio & Shylock, for good measure. yes, I'm serious.] While they're working out the details of their new partnership, an explosion happens off the coast of Louisiana, but Jim is the only one who seems to care - everyone else dismisses the fact that it's only "yellow" on the AP wire. Well, it's not just any explosion - the date is April 20, 2010, the beginning of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Jim still thinks the story is worth investigating, so he goes around Don to find out that the well might not be able to be capped, and finally barges into Mackenzie and Will's meeting when he gets additional sources to admit that there's a big problem. Don tells Jim that it'll be an enormous problem if he's wrong about the gravity of the situation, but they begin to go ahead with making it into the evening's topic - everyone runs around, making calls to try and get comments from all over. Neil, who runs Will's blog, knows a thing or two about how the oil barracks work, apparently.
Mackenzie apologizes to Will, then screws with him until he agrees to let her be in charge from 8-9pm five days a week. She pushes him throughout the broadcast, making him vamp to prove that an anchor and an executive producer need to trust one another in order to do a show without a rundown. The news covers the poor inspection process of the wells (635 wells per inspector per month!), which Maggie uncovered. [ha- "I'm too old to fear being governed by young people."] All in all, they did the news very well, because they "just decided to do" so.

As things start to wind down, Don is willing to meet Maggie's parents, but only for a few minutes. We learn that Charlie loved the speech that Will gave about America's faults at the Northwestern debate. It seems that the other networks ran stories about the iPhone being left at a bar and the flights resuming in Europe after the volcano. And, we learn that Mackenzie and Will were serious at one point - he met her parents and did fabulously. [she looks very young to me - I would've guessed around 30, though I guess she's closer to 40, judging by some of these comments?] Lastly, the audience becomes aware that it WAS Mackenzie in the audience at Northwestern, though Will still thinks that he imagined her there. [oooh, careful! we don't want too much romance...] 
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very interesting show i couldn't blink for the first 8 min. Love the St. Lucia reference...amazing place. Can't wait for the next episode.