Monday, July 23, 2012

The Newsroom: Injury Central

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Just how many people have you ever seen talk at one time (usefully)? The early scene just before THEY switched to the Wisconsin riot had the control room buzzing with more conversation than I think I've ever seen. Being a fan of crowd scenes, I both found this incredulous and highly unbelievable. It wasn't the most improbably thing this episode, though... how about Maggie hitting Jim in the head TWICE with that CLEAR GLASS door? He even required STITCHES because of it... while I could believe you'd need stitches (flashback to myself hitting my ear on a counter once in tenth grade...), neither of them seeing the other THROUGH THE DOOR, TWICE, was a bit odd. But, that's not ever the most farfetched thing about Jim in this episode... how has anyone over the age of 30 NOT SEEN Rudy?? Will is right to cry in that film, you guys... it's incredible. If you are hiding behind Jim in this moment, stop. Go watch the film.

Now, going back to the injuries in this episode... Elliot broke several bones, Jim needed stitches, Don wound up in a sling, and Neal broke a few fingers. I'm not sure what point Sorkin was making by having his characters be so dainty (not Elliot, of course), but all of this in such a short time span? A bit ridiculous. On the other hand, Sorkin gave Will a memorable speech about what journalism truly is, and the lengths to which those who car are willing to go...

I got a guy on my staff got hit in the head with a glass door Thursday - his forehead wouldn't stop bleeding but he wouldn't go to a doctor because I got another guy who got beat up covering Cairo and the first guy wouldn't see a doctor until the second guy saw a doctor. I've got a producer who ran into a locked door because he felt responsible for the second guy. I've got an 18-year-old kid risking his life halfway around the world and the AP who sent him there hadn't slept in three days. I've got twentysomethings who care about teachers in Wisconsin. I've got a grown woman who has to subtract with her fingers staying up all night trying to learn economics from a PhD who could be making 20 times the money three miles downtown. THEY'RE journalists. -Will McAvoy

Ruminate on that as you read up on our recap and remarks, then add your own thoughts.

The Newsroom "Amen" (S01E05): We're hitting February 10th - 14th, 2011 this time, nearly ten months after the pilot, but we're still only on the fifth episode. [this really makes you start to wonder how much flashback we're going to see soon...] The main story is the protests in Egypt, but the issues with the teachers in Wisconsin are also rising to importance. [there's also the points about the Justin Bieber movie coming out and the Koch Brothers having money in Citizens United, but those are just in passing.] In Egypt, ACN's correspondent is Elliot, but because of the danger, he's reporting mainly from a hotel room, greatly to the displeasure of Don, who claims Elliot should be outside with the action. Well, the danger was indeed real, and Elliot winds up badly beaten, throwing a ton of guilt on Don. Mac is still dying for live coverage, and Neal (who doesn't have a college degree, apparently) suggests a young guy on the internet who goes by "Amen." Will is skeptical but they move forward with trying to work things out with the young man anyway. [Mac demanding "anyone with 'producer' in your title to the conference room" made me laugh.] Fortunately, Amen still has the use of Skype, and Mac and Neal go over the details of his assignment, including that he'll need to reveal his full name and his entire face. [for an 18-year-old in such a devastated country, that's got to be a big pill to swallow.]
Photo: HBO
Amen is really Kahlid, and he does a great report for our gang... and then promptly goes missing for 36 hours. Neal is understandably panicked, and after Khalid's phone can't be located via GPS, everyone starts pulling strings to find out what they can about the brave young man. It's the recently-returned Elliot who discovers that the "fringe army" has him and wants $250,000 for his release. Will is the only one who can try pulling corporate to make such a transaction, but he winds up just wiring the money himself to save the boy. [anyone else find this storyline very akin to the Studio 60 episode where Tom's brother is captured in Afghanistan??] Mac figures this out and stages the infamous Rudy scene where every player gives up his jersey so that the title character could suit-up for one single game; Neal, Maggie, and the rest of the news room each place a check on Will's desk to help with the expense of saving Khalid.

The episode wouldn't be complete without some drama, and it comes from both TMI magazine AND the continued Maggie/Jim tension. On the one hand, TMI runs a story about Mac's boyfriend running for Congress and how it looks like ACN is backing him because they've had him guest-star five times in about six weeks. The blame falls to Mac, but we soon learn that she knew nothing of it and that he was just using her. Still, Mac begins to look worse and worse when the ACN Morning Show reports her accidental email regarding her previous relationship with Will. Someone on the crew is familiar with TMI's pay-off policy and suggests it to Will, though Mac overhears. He initially plans to make no use of such a thing until word gets out that TMI is planning a piece about how Mac nearly got a crew killed in Pakistan, pushing the anchor into coming thisclose to signing a $50,000 check. What stops him? A crack about what goes into journalism, prompting him to give the aforementioned speech about what a real journalist does.

Lisa has a bad history of crappy Valentine's Days, so Maggie wants to make sure that Jim gives her a positive memory... so she not only buys him a card and suggests what he write in it, but picks out gifts and sets up some ideas for what they might do to celebrate the holiday. Of course, by the time Valentine's Day actually rolls around, Maggie and Jim are both wrapped up in work, and Lisa is stood up anyway. Luckily, Lisa is quick to forgive. [for someone with a history of spite, the woman certainly caved pretty quickly!]

Oh, and just to give Olivia Munn something to do on the show, Sloan tutors Mac in economics. [why does Sloan call her "Kenzie"? odd.]
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