Monday, August 6, 2012

The Newsroom: They Got Him!

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Many people have said that a moment they will never forget is the announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed. I remember sitting on the couch when the President broke into programming to share this news, then running down the hall to tell my husband. But I'd never remember what day it was. In fact, while I would have guessed 2011, I had zero inkling as to what month it might have been. I have no doubt that this was a big deal, but I don't know if this makes me stand out, or if some people are just trying to sustain the memory more than others. In twenty years when I have teenagers, will 5/1/2011 be a date on their history exams? I'm willing to bet that I'll be sharing the story of where I was on 9/11/01 with my children and grandchildren and the neighbor's kids forever, but never would have thought that I might be asked where I was when the news broke that Osama bin Laden was finally out of our lives forever. In looking at how this episode deals with the story, I was most intrigued by the minute-by-minute format. Fifty-five minutes covers just the action of three or four hours... while not unheard of, it's rare. It's complicated. It requires some really tight writing. And, I think that Sorkin pulled it off here. I had my gripes, don't get me wrong, but I found the scenes to be, on the whole, very good. I disagreed with the actions of Will, Don, and maybe even Charlie, but c'est la vie. Let us know what you thought in the comments.

The Newsroom "5/1" (S01E07): It's May 1st, 2011, about 7:30pm. A private number calls Charlie, identifying himself as DeepThroat and LateforDinner, attempting to earn Charlie's trust by predicting that he'll receive an email from the White House in ninety minutes, telling him to get to work. [I was disappointed that the only additional information the guy gave later was that he was with the NSA.] Charlie is acutely aware of the clock as time passes at Will's apartment, where everyone is gathered to celebrate having started "News Night 2.0" one year and one week ago. [what is Mac wearing?? and what was that drinking game with the hands?] The host, in fact, is partying so hard that he's consumed a couple of pot brownies ON TOP OF a few Vicodin. [oh goodness!] But not everyone is having a great time - Jim is in a secluded room, working. [of course. just like New Year's Eve.] His girlfriend, Lisa, is on her way to the party but is running late... and Maggie witnesses the facetime call where Lisa tells Jim that she loves him. [wait... people actually use facetime when they're out and about??] Jim tells Maggie that he doesn't really love Lisa, so Maggie tells him that he can't keep a relationship going like this.

Sure enough, at 9pm, the email arrives: the President is speaking in 90 minutes and will cut into all network programming to share some news that can't wait. Nobody knows for sure, but Charlie's guess is that Osama bin Laden has been captured, partially based on a tweet that The Rock heard from his Marine cousin. [yeah, I can't wait to see what The Factroom has to say about this!] Everyone dashes out of the apartment, heading for the subway or cabs while Will is stuck with his bodyguard/driver. Well, not everyone, actually...

Sloan, Don, and Elliot are on their way back from Washington, DC and land at 9:07pm, though they're stuck on the runway for seemingly hours for a variety of reasons. Don is going crazy trying to get off, but the only news he gets to break is to the pilot and co-pilot. [I'm a little stumped as to the choice to have them unavailable during this time...] 

Okay, back to the non-hostages. Well, not really. Actually, Will and the bodyguard are stuck in impossible traffic, and against the bodyguard's orders, Will decides to make a run for the station... literally. He jogs the 22 blocks, not answering his phone. [well, he's baked. what were you expecting?] When the bodyguard tries to go after him, he's intercepted by the police, who take him to ACN for Will explains the situation. Also at the station, Mac tries hard to figure out what the news is before it officially breaks, though they've been given a bit more time, as Obama is now speaking at 10:45pm. [why did it get pushed back?] After they learn that the news is going to come from the East Room, not the Oval Office, the crew knows it's good news. [I was previously unaware of this distinction.] As time goes on, everyone forms their own theory, but one of the bigger concerns is that Will is spacing out, unable to tie a Windsor knot, and keeps repeating himself. [...and with Elliot AND Sloan stuck on a plane... whom would their back-up be?] Just after they learn that the address is pushed back again until 11pm, they find out that there is a confirmed EKIA (Enemy Killed In Action). Charlie doesn't want to jump on it, though, because he did that once in 1991 and it caused a bunch of injuries. [that was a sad story.] Charlie does, however, share the information with the news room, where drama breaks out shortly thereafter. Neal's girlfriend's father was killed on 9/11, so she isn't up for celebrating. [which begs me to question how she can be the only one in the room with a tie to a 9/11 victim...] Lisa dumps Jim because she realized how much the relationship is hurting Maggie. However, Jim almost immediately asks her out again, as a "start over" thing. [weird!]

Back to the main point, however, Mac has to cut the feed from Washington, DC because the reporter there wants to be the one who breaks the big news. Joe Biden (who used to play sports with Will) is the one who gives ACN permission to broadcast the truth, but they're twenty minutes late doing so because StonedWill can't seem to use his phone. [yeah... that'd probably get most people fired. I'm just saying...] Will does, however, anchor the story. [goosebumps time!]
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