Taking its name from a Coldplay song and with the excellent Hope Davis guest starring, this week’s episode of The Newsroom sees the show truly getting into its stride. After viewing the first four episodes, I can safely say that this is truly becoming one of the must see shows on television. It’s not perfect by any means and this episode in particular shows just how good, and how bad it can be. There are better shows out there, that’s for sure, but for the pure entertainment of seeing this ensemble cast speaking Aaron Sorkin‘s dialogue, there truly is nothing better.
It starts out at ACN’s New Year’s Eve party and predictably romance is in the air. Jim and Maggie still won’t get it on because Don is still getting in the way, despite the fact that Maggie would rather be with Jim. They laugh, make each other smile and look at each other in alluring ways. But of course Don gets between them, drunk, and gives a possible date to Jim, thus thwarting Jim’s chances with Maggie yet again.
Mac also has been struck by Cupid’s fine arrow aim and seems to have fallen for Wade, from the DOJ, having moved on from the fiasco with Will. Will also tries to find love at the New Year’s party with a woman who turns out to be a gossip columnist named Nina Howard (Hope Davis), it all goes well until he gives her a lecture about her profession. Being offended, the following day she prints a story in the New York Post accusing Will of trying to grope her.
All of this stuff is rather amusing and charming, plus it lends humanity to the characters, but this isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. The Jim/Maggie office will-they-won’t-they thing is very old hat and it is all building to a moment where they share a kiss and we’re all supposed to whoop with joy. I don’t know if Sorkin is deliberately doing this or if he can’t think of another story to tell in the office. It’s the performances which perfectly play up the comedy of these scenes that allows them to work, but for Sorkin this is just so sloppy. It reminds us of when he was writing The American President, which was an entirely incidental and empty romantic comedy. This is not Sorkin’s forte.
As for continuing News Night’s new approach to delivering news, the first day into 2011 they intend to focus on stories that got little press throughout the year. One of these stories belongs to Maggie, who suggests that the “Obama’s trying to steal our guns” line, that was promoted by likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin (right wing nut cases), was a lie. The potshots taken particularly at Glenn Beck’s expense are just beautiful, despite the fact that during this segment I couldn’t get the sight of Aaron Sorkin and Jon Stewart fist bumping behind the camera out of my head. Will McAvoy does go a little Daily Show, but that’s all good with me.
But then it’s more romance and the heavy eyelids set in again. Forgive me, but this show is called The Newsroom, hence it should be taking place in the newsroom. The West Wing was set wholly inside the west wing for the majority of its episodes and The Newsroom is best when dealing with getting the news out, reflecting real political issues (in itself a fairly bold move) and showing how that works. That was the great virtue of Sorkin’s work, he showed the workspace and made it fascinating, intricately laying out how that place functioned. With The Newsroom that’s not been the modus operandi as of yet, but that’s where the show’s great strength lies.
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