The Newsroom Review: “The Blackout Part 1: Tragedy Porn” (Season 1, Episode 8)

The Lansing’s fascination with Casey Anthony and Anthony Weiner is never made totally clear. It may just be they are tetchy about ratings and don’t particularly care who gets the chop in a murder trial, as long as it gets covered and gets viewers. But as another scene with the brilliant Jane Fonda seeks to remind us, if you don’t keep in line with the politics of the owners then you are going to be out on your ass with nowhere to go.

This week’s episode also saw the introduction of a fantastic actor in a guest starring role, the wonderful Paul Schneider. He plays Brian Brenner, a down-on-his-luck journalist who Will has hired to write a feature about News Night. He is also the person Mac cheated on Will with.

Schneider is a great character actor and he chooses supporting parts really well. He’s a scene stealer in The Assassination of Jesse James and was pretty much the stand out of Jane Campion’s otherwise monotonous/pretentious/bafflingly overpraised Bright Star. It would be nice to see him as a regular on The Newsroom in the years to come, even though his character’s involvement in this work place wouldn’t quite work with the plot. If these two episodes are all we get of Schneider it will be a shame but still, having a Sorkin product on your CV is going to go some way to getting you good parts in the future.

Being a two parter (another TV structure Sorkin favours), the story is rendered incomplete and we won’t get a conclusion until next week. So, we end on a cliffhanger, with the studio encountering a blackout before the pre-recording of an interviewee who is going on the air to disgrace Weiner’s name. We also get a sigh of relief being collectively let out by Mac, who has spent most of her time trying to defend her philosophy from the kind of reporting she was partake in.

All in all, we’re back on the up for The Newsroom. We’re not 100% clear of disaster yet but if the show continues this way right up to its season finale, then I certainly won’t have many complaints.