Review: The Newsroom S1:E3 – “The 112th Congress”


Though I’m a registered Democrat (which I did before realizing I could be Independent) and my family’s mostly Republican, Politics tend to make my eyes glaze over and a lot of it goes over my head. My reasoning is that no matter who you have in office, neither side has everything right and you’ll find corruption and/or underhanded deals no matter what side is chosen. It’s because of this that makes The Newsroom a little difficult for me to write about from a political standpoint, but on an entertainment standpoint, I’m having fun. This show is getting a little tighter with every episode.

This episode, titled “The 112th Congress”, opens with a statement taken from the 9/11 Commission back in 2004. Will makes an apology to the American viewing public on the way News Night has been, stating that they failed to give the right news – “A leader in an industry that miscalled election results, miscalled hyped up terror scares, ginned up controversy, and failed to report on tectonic shifts in our country”. Will stresses that they will be concentrating on giving the news, and opinions that also contrast his own. I liked the way this scene moved, jumping back and forth through the events of writing out the speech, getting everyone up for their morning meeting, cleaning it all up and providing it to Charlie before the actual broadcast. This is all while the speech is given. The opening editorial lays down the template to the News Night viewers on where it’s headed.

The following scene is a conference room with Charlie, Reese, another associate and Leona (Jane Fonda) in a debriefing meeting on the News Night changes. This takes place on November 3rd, 2010. The show moves to this location, the Bigwig Conference, a number of times as we go over the months since NN2.0’s inception. I have to admit I really liked the movement of the scenes back and forth here. Don approaches Jim and gives him a little flak on why he wasn’t in the loop on Will’s speech, given that his own show that comes afterward is also trying to be the one to move up to that treasured 8pm slot. Don also has something of an issue with Maggie on this as well, but it only lasts for a moment.

Reese goes on to mention that since the News Night change, Will’s lost about a good 7% of his audience. Though they’re doing what they feel is the right thing, it is costing them from a viewer’s standpoint. I liked how Leona really doesn’t speak up until the middle of the episode, her character just kind of taking in all of the information that’s given.

There’s a very interesting conversation between Will and Charlie, talking about the changes in the Tea Party’s progression. Granted, this all requires first level research for stronger opinions & statements to be formed, but from the way The Newsroom presents it (and my interpretation of it), the Tea Party kind of swooped in and changed the Republican landscape (or was at least trying to at the time) for their own pursuits. That Will, being a Republican himself, decides to make this the top story felt like it added to the “all the facts” angle the NN2.0 was shooting for. For the record, were he a Democrat, I’m pretty sure that they could have done the same thing for that party, using a story on gun control or something like that.

Getting back to the story, it’s revealed in the Bigwig conference that Will is treating his interview subjects like members in a courtroom and that at one point in his life, he was a prosecutor. I liked this, but the information seemed sudden to me, as if Sorkin and crew were in their writing room and the question came of “Well, how is Will so good at this?”, and they came up with the lawyer angle. Then again, to counter that, we learned 4 episodes into Mad Men that Don Draper’s name wasn’t his and his past wasn’t his either. I suppose it makes sense here too.

Mac meets one of Will’s new dates and overreacts a little with the compliments, inquiring on who she is. Turns out that the lady works for the New York Jets as a choreographer. Mac and Will move to Will’s office, where she berates him on his dating choice for the evening. There’s a bit of cute back and forth banter before she nearly storms out and Charlie catches her, telling them both the keep up what they’re doing with the Tea Party pressure. Will asks how the 44th floor (The Bigwig Conference) is handling this, and Charlie lies to him about it. Undoubtedly, this will end up being a problem later on in the season. The relationship angles still appear a little blurry. We learn that Maggie’s issues are attributed to Panic Attacks, which opens a nice scene between she and Jim on the terrace of the building. I already touched on the Sorkin Girls in the last episode. I’ll let it go here, but it does kind of show why she’s been the way she’s been. The problem here is that with the forward momentum the scene made, it takes two steps back in having her with Don still by the end of the episode. I’m not saying they should be in each other arms by now, but I wouldn’t mind seeing thing forward just a little more.

The story moves ahead to June 18, 2010, where Will goes after a senator regarding statements made on AIDS and it’s spread. The Bigwigs are not pleased at all on this. After the broadcast, Mac finds another date waiting for Will, who Will points out is an actual brain surgeon. That was actually worth a chuckle, indeed.

At the Bigwig Conference, Reese points out that there was a party every year he and his mother were invited to at Telluride that they didn’t receive an invite for this time around. Reese points out that Will’s broadcasts has cost them Koch Industries, which happens to be close to the Lansing’s (Reese and Leona).

Near the end of the Bigwig Meeting, Leona finally speaks up, letting Charlie know that Will needs to back off as the parent company, AWM has special interests with of the parties that Will has been attacking. Leona threatens to fire Will, which of course would be a problem due to a special clause in his contact that prevents him from working for 3 years. That was kind of cool, reminding me of what happened with Conan O’Brien when he left NBC. So now, the stakes are raised. Do they continue doing what they’ve planned and face being fired or revert back to the old format?

While I still have the same complaints as before (Sharpen up the girls, etc.), the episode ramped up things with some of the actual broadcasts that were done. The Bigwig Conference scenes were some of the strongest parts there, I felt. We’ll see where this all goes.

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