by Amy K. Bredemeyer
I love it when somebody breaks down and explains the problems in a report image-by-image. No, seriously. This fascinated me. Of course, my Master's thesis spends a whole chapter doing this to a musical that's probably shorter than that chapter, by hey, I love it. Anyway, this episode had loads of interesting scenes and was full to the brim with action. Maggie, Jim, Don, and even Mac play smaller roles than usual, but Charlie and Will make up for the lack of other characters. The setting is five days during the second week of the Casey Anthony trial, which I had completely forgotten was only fourteen months ago. However, I expect that this storyline will fall below the radar in Part 2, as the news that's breaking to Charlie is a much bigger deal. Well, at least to everyone who isn't a female of maternal age, according to Reese's demographics. With two episodes left in this rookie season, I suspect that the 60-minute blocks will only become more intense, so who knows what else will happen!
The Newsroom "The Blackout Part 1: Tragedy Porn" (S01E08): May 27th, 2011: Will talks Brian Brenner about doing a cover story about "News Night 2.0," but is going to make the guy audition by writing an off-the-record piece first. Brian is an old boyfriend of Mackenzie, with whom she slept while dating Will. [oh! I didn't think that we'd find out who the person was, let alone have them for a story arc!] When Mac asks Will about why he picked Brian, he doesn't really give a response, and instead heads to have "an emergency stop" at his therapist's office. Though he's in session, Jack talks to Will, suggesting that he needs to forgive Mac, because all he's doing is hurting her. Not only does that explain why he's hiring Brian, but it also covers why Will is fine with doing unethical things for the ratings. [I laughed that Will figured he is owed $100,000 worth of therapy from the past four years!]
Oh, the ratings. See, Charlie, Mac, and Will met with Reese, who yelled at them for not covering the Casey Anthony trial, costing them (literally) half of their viewers. [dang! that's crazy!] So, against their wills, the trio agree to start focusing on the case, though they'd rather give their viewers more important information that just some entertainment. Everyone else in the newsroom agrees with our powerhouses, especially when their story ideas (like senate obstruction, the job situation getting worse, and Obama's union relationship) have to be cut to make room for the Casey Anthony story (at the top of the hour, no less). [yeah... that's rough!] Even Sloan is pissed, as she wanted extra time to talk about a big House vote regarding the treasury. [her talking about the "raver/rager" in Baltimore was so odd.] Because the other big news thing going on is the Anthony Weiner twitter picture, Will petitions for three minutes to cover that (in the B-block), which Mac grants him. [I forgot that it was first thought to be a hacked account!] Then, everyone gets right to work on the Casey Anthony mess, with Don giving a lecture on how others are covering it and what isn't being discussed. [my thoughts on this appeared at the top of this post. and that junk about appealing to emotion because there's no judge to stop the media from swaying "the jury" was interesting.] Oh, and why is this even national news? Dylan Kagen goes through bottom-of-the-barrel stories and finds things he thinks are big enough to attract attention.
Now, while all of this is going on, Charlie meets with Solomon Hancock at the New York Public Library. [I thought it was funny that he didn't guess the correct person at first! and I also had no idea that those walls were three feet thick!] The guy asks him to take the battery out of his cellphone, explains that he's an IT genius, and mentions that there is data mining software that sifts through electronic communications. [essentially, illegal wire-tapping.] It was used to find bin Laden, and Reese Lansing has been ordering it for the magazine. Hancock asks that Charlie "vet" (fact-check) him because he doesn't want to live like the Communist Soviets lived. [and I imagine that there are a ton of younger viewers who don't understand what that means...] Hancock also offers protection from Leona Lansing (remember, she's the owner of ACN). [just how is he going to do that??] Charlie goes to Leona and tells her that he knows where the tabloid stories are coming from, but she blows him off. [figures!] When he returns to the station, he fills in Will and Mac. [I'm glad that they finally know! It's been three weeks since Charlie first heard from this guy!] The next day, Reese asks Will to do a weird weather story, as the high could be 98 degrees and there are tornado watches in NYC. [while that's fascinating and all, they just had to cut a bunch of worthy stories, so I'm betting those will take precedent!]
Also, Neal pitches Mac a story about an internet troll website, which Neal wants to do an undercover story on, though he'll probably have to troll News Night to do so. [I have a feeling this is going to be very entertaining as it develops!] He doesn't have enough detail worked out yet, but Mac tells him to keep working on it.
Plus, Maggie has to take a call nobody else wants from a woman who is familiar with Weiner. [Maggie IS an associate producer, so how is she BELOW two interns??] Sandy shows Maggie a twitter conversation where Wiener talked of being intimate with her, and though Sandy knew that he was a married man, she's going public because she feels that it's unfair to all of the other women with whom he's been in contact. [you've GOT to be kidding me!] But, Sandy can't do the show that night because she's booked on three others, so Maggie says that they can do a pre-tape. [oh... Dylan Kagen is about to be her agent, by the way.] Mac doesn't like the idea, and asks for a sign that they shouldn't do it... the power goes out and we end there. [part hilarious and part... just shake your head and move on.]