After seeing the second episode of The Newsroom, which is my first Aaron Sorkin show experience, I’ve learned four things:
1.) In the Sorkin Universe, guys may be asses, but girls seem to make all the huge mistakes.
2.) Everyone is just one moment away from emotionally exploding.
3.) The “Walk and Talk” gets things done.
4.) There are very few moments of silence.
Okay, here we are with the second episode for The Newsroom. This one appears to be tighter compared to the pilot episode and an overall improvement from that, though it still has it’s problems. The episode overall is about the construction of News Night 2.0, the revised version of the broadcast that will concentrate on giving the news and not letting the ratings control the content. It’s a great plan, but issues do arise. Charlie (Sam Waterston) has to warn one of Will’s colleagues, Reese (Chris Messina) about giving Will the numbers on the ratings. As Will is a big fan of the ratings, Charlie fears that this will sway him from following the new broadcast process. Reese explains that he’s not the bad guy, but is only giving Will what he wants. Despite the warning, he still speaks with Will in a later scene.
That I liked, the notion that Will is still laboring under the belief that he should shoot for the news that people want to hear versus the news they should. This episode was partially supposed to show how going against that process didn’t work out for him and should ground him going forward. In some ways, I think it succeeded. The News Night Team is trying something different, but in order for that to work, everyone has to be on board. By the end of the episode, you come to find out who’s with Mac on this, and who’s against it. I’m loving where the show is going on that front.
We now have our antagonists in Reese, who wants Will to keep the old format going and we have Don. Don is staying with the NewsNigh Team to make sure the transition goes well, but at the same time, is rooting for Will to fail because it puts his new show in that prized time slot. I’m under the impression that later on, we’ll see both of these individuals trying to sabotage things.
Here’s what worked for me:
– The Introduction of both Reese and Sloan. Both Chris Messina and Olivia Munn had some good scenes in the episode. They both appeared to be even keeled for the most part. Reese’s “walk and talk” with Will was nice, though in doing a bit of research, I’ve discovered it’s bit of a Sorkin staple. Olivia Munn’s character, Sloan Sabbith is introduced when Mackenzie hires her to perform the Financial News segment to start before Will’s broadcast. I’m hoping her character gets some more time in. Of course, I’ve been a fan of Olivia’s for years, so there’s some bias there, admittedly. It’s cool seeing how far she’s come. Sabbith also happens to be one of the only girls who hasn’t had some kind of serious emotional crash, yet (and that’s still questionable).
– More pop and zip. Overall the episode moved very well. I didn’t get the feeling of slowdown from the pilot, with it’s empty areas and all the time spent trying to figure out who was what. It was basically, “What’s our show?”, “Who do we need to get it going?”, “Oh damn, we messed up!”, “The Broadcast”, “The Aftermath”. I wouldn’t mind seeing that template keep going. By the time we reached Will’s actual broadcast, I was all smiles. It’s quick, to the point and there’s just never a quiet moment. Everyone has something to say to fill in the space, all the time. I wish I could write the dialog in my fiction like that.
And then there’s the one glaring problem:
– Women are Always the Source of the Issue in a World Where Men Seemingly Do No Wrong. During last year’s Oscars, Lisa Marie and I got into a debate over her hatred of Sorkin and my love for The Social Network. We agreed to disagree that he can do dialog and that he kinda, sorta, maybe has a problem with writing women. I was pretty sure I won that argument when Sorkin accepted his Oscar – I was rooting for him to win. This episode, however had me face palming myself, like a PR agent watching their star client mess up with everyone watching.
Again, where Sorkin excels in dialog and moving that forward, the girls get the short end of the stick. Every mistake and problem that occurs in this episode is the direct result of something a girl should have done or didn’t do or blew out of proportion. The flow moves in this pattern:
1.) Girl makes big mistake. As her Superior Male supervisor is going to blow up because of it, she loses her mind in a theatrical fashion. (Both Maggie and Mac do this to great effect, it’s like they haven’t had tea or something.).
2.) Girl gets verbally chewed out by Superior Male. This also seems to happen publicly where people can see it.
3.) Girl apologizes, kowtows and hopes the Male she works for doesn’t look bad because of her actions.
It may sound a little exaggerated, but it’s there. Now you may say, “Len, that’s not right. The girls are on equal footing with the guys. And you’re a guy, it shouldn’t matter, should it?” Perhaps it shouldn’t, but as someone who prefers seeing women in media that don’t complain about broken fingernails, The Newsroom still needs improvement on this level. I can’t claim to understand women in the slightest, but I’ve seen and have known tons of them that just aren’t this…submissive, for want of a better word. Case in point – It’s stated that Mackenzie McHale was a journalist in war-torn areas for a long time. Yet, in the Newsroom, she comes across as being particularly clumsy and high-strung. I would have expected a calmer person, kind of a like a Kathryn Bigelow. Could you imagine Mac, the way she is in the Newsroom, being as effective in a warlike environment? That bothered me a bit, honestly. If Sorkin could fix that one part, he’d be downright perfect. It has me wondering what the first show he doesn’t write will be like. That this has become the only problem for me says a lot for how much better the show’s done in these two episodes.
So basically, I’m loving where the show is going, but it needs to up the girl factor. I’m hoping Sloan may be that factor. For the next episode, I’ll try not to be issue like a dead horse, but if they keep giving me the ammo, I’m be tempted to fire off a round or two.