Monday, July 15, 2013

RETURNING: The Newsroom: Jumping Around

At this point it's no secret that many people, critics and television junkies alike, hate-watch this drama. The new opening does not help matters at all, as although it's not as dated, it makes the happenings of a newsroom seem rather trivial. Starting off a season with scene that takes place about a year after the bulk of the episode's action is also an alienating technique, especially for those who do not follow a lot of American politics. The jumpy arc made the events a little more difficult to follow, but thankfully HBO almost always includes date-stamps during transitions. The episode succeeded in drawing audience intrigue, as it did set-up quite a few starts to bigger things with most of the characters, giving everyone something to ponder. At the same time, however, the many distinct storylines can make it difficult for one to follow, particularly when the events are not happening simultaneously. Neal is hunting for the scoop on Occupy Wall Street while Jim is following Romney on the campaign trail while Will is still fighting back against backlash while a new producer (played by Hamish Linklater) is fighting for the acclaim that his New York counterparts enjoy. More catch-up and jumping around are expected as more blanks are filled and plots intersect, plus some unaddressed cliffhangers from the previous season (Will's missing voicemail to Mackenzie, for instance) as well.

The Newsroom "First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All the Lawyers" (S02E01): It's been 14 months since Will gave the Tea Party speech, and he's now being questioned about an entirely different issue, as is Mackenzie. [and apparently Maggie is also on the list to be interviewed?] But, the issue isn't fresh; it actually only took place a short time after the Tea Party = Taliban debacle, and this episode is used to introduce the events leading up to it. [let's hope for more background in the next episode, too!]

Will gets pulled from the 9/11 coverage because Charlie doesn't think he's the right face for the job after his recent tirade, and Will agrees to fake being sick. [probably a good call by Charlie, though I'm shocked at how seriously everyone took Will's statements.] But, before we actually get to the memorial date, Jim volunteers to cover the Romney campaign (to get away from Maggie), so the team brings up a guy named Jerry from DC to cover for him as senior producer. Jerry brings his own specialist onto the show, rather than one Jim would use, resulting in a poor segment. [I'll say! but why didn't Mackenzie try to get Sloan to ask the question when Will wouldn't?] To save his butt, the guy offers to give Jerry a story if Jerry promises to use him again, and, though details are not given, the story, about a Black-Op named Genoa, is the reason for the lawyers a year later. This story may be branching off from the drone strike controversy discussed by Will and Sloan. [I loved Sloan using a blank sheet of paper to make her point. also, the line "it's like playing golf behind a foursome of blind people."]

Sloan and Don are awkward around one another, as she didn't wind up quitting after admitting her feelings for him. [there's really no other way they could be.] All hope is not lost, however, as Don breaks up with Maggie when he learns of her rant at the Sex and the City tour bus (as it makes the rounds on the internet), which shows her passion for Jim. We don't get much of Maggie's reaction to that, but we do know that she winds up going to Uganda and has a life-altering experience, returning with short, punky red hair. [I'm especially curious about this plot point...]
Meanwhile, AWM/ACN people are being treated poorly because of Will's Taliban speech, with main examples being Reese unable to attend a meeting for SOPA at the capitol building, and Jim being unable to ride the Romney press bus in New Hampshire. There's also a few fun moments that work for the show, including Will making the intern learn musical theatre history, and Mack and Jim scurrying to get a reporter to deliver a line live because of a fact-check problem the day the rebels taking Tripoli on August 23, 2011. [I really enjoyed the latter!] Plus, on August 24, 2011, Neal suggests a story on the formation of Occupy Wall Street, and though Mackenzie doesn't have much faith it'll become big, she encourages him to attend a meeting. Because he's press, he's treated with disgust at first, though he eventually gets one of the leaders to open up about the group's plans, and he even suggests that they narrow their goals. [what made him feel qualified to offer such an idea? and why would the writers of this series have him take such an active part?]  
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