The Newsroom Review: “I’ll Try To Fix You” (Season 1, Episode 4)

It is highly ironic that a lot of this episode focuses on how the tabloid media has a morbid fascination with famous people’s private lives, in an episode that also features badly written office romance relationships with the same morbid fascination of the tabloids, only doing it without its own knowing sense of irony. But the performances help it along.

The Newsroom‘s high watermark is still Jeff Daniels, who has finally been given the major role on screen that his talent deserves. He’s done solid supporting work in small to big budget film throughout his entire career but has never had a great lead protagonist that he could really sink his teeth into.

His presence here is commanding and is forever watchable. While Sorkin doesn’t get the anti-hero traits as successfully as he did with Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, Will McAvoy is a really interesting character.

Just as it begins to lag down, the episode gets a little juicier as it comes to light that it is in fact Leona Lansing who is leaking stories to the press and trying to assassinate Will’s character in order to get him fired. These stories come in breach of his non-compete clause in his contract and therefore gives them suitable grounds to let him go, all because he keeps upsetting the relationships AWM (ACN’s parent company) has with people that News Night has been attacking. Although it is plot engines motoring at a speed of contrivance, it’s nice to get a piece of allegory about corporation influence on news and how it affects opinion.

On top of this, we get another piece of breaking news surrounding the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Despite reports of her death, ACN doesn’t choose to confirm death until it is confirmed. As they await the actual news from medical source, they find out that she isn’t dead, but just critically wounded.

It’s a brilliant piece of television, played out entirely to Coldplay‘s song Fix You. Once again the News Night team battles with corporate,  even if it doesn’t agree with ratings. This is the kind of TV that makes you cheer and whoop, not some phoney, unoriginal office romance. It had me on the verge of tears. It’s so good in fact that it almost convinced me Coldplay were a half decent band. Almost. If you took this final 15 minutes and added it to a better preceding 45 and saved it till the last episode, you would have a remarkable season finale.

It is extremely relevant and the kind of writing we expect from Sorkin. The romance really doesn’t interest me. Hopefully by the time we get to Season 2, Sorkin will realise what works and what doesn’t and he will be able to structure the show accordingly. The great thing about television is that it has more room to grow than a film does. Two hours is nothing compared to the ten hours worth of material we’ll get for The Newsroom‘s first season. Just in the space of four episodes the characters have  grown exponentially and they will continue to do so for the remaining six episodes and the upcoming second season.

As mentioned, this episode is remarkably uneven; some of it works and some of it doesn’t. That being said, anyone in their right mind would want to see Sorkin trying ideas out and failing rather than watch the most average showrunner put out the most middling, banal material. The reviews and the categorisation of the show as a drama haven’t done The Newsroom any favors. It isn’t as bad as most people say and the show is closer, much closer to a comedy.

If only people understood that, then the show would be a lot more successful.

Comments (10)

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  1. What better shows are “out there”? Where? Big Bang, Met Your Mother, Bacholerette, Suits, or the dozen Dancing and Singing shows? Most of them are targeted at an adolescent demographic, which doesn’t help the dumbing down of the viewing audiences. The only show worth watching is from British TV, Line of Duty. Now that Borgias and Game of Thrones are done for the season, Newsroom is the crown jewel worth watching for discerning folks.

    1. Breaking Bad for one.

      1. Yes Season 5 has just started and I’ll surely be glued. What else?

      2. In terms of current programming? On HBO alone there are better shows: Veep, Girls, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones. AMC has Mad Men and The Walking Dead. Showtime has Homeland. In the UK there is stuff like Wallander, Walking & Talking and Blackout. All are more consistent than The Newsroom, I’m not saying it’s bad, I think I like it more than a lot of critics but its not the best of what TV has to offer at the moment

      3. Veep is way too vapid and sporadic for anyone who has seen the original British show that inspired it, “The Thick of It”. Boardwalk Empire was a well produced show, but the subject matter became less interesting for most people after a few episodes, even with the gratuitous nudity. I already mentioned GoT and Mad Men, both of which are already finished with their current seasons (as is Borgias). Homeland season 1 is also gone already. I’m finding Newsroom’s episodes, just four of them so far, to be highly consistent and studded with very intelligent writing. Mad Men is well written and engaging too, and a fabulous soap, but it’s nowhere near as inspiring or laconic as Newsroom. Two different moods. Homeland was a thrilling one, and had it not been for the ability to watch it all in sequence, I wouldn’t have bothered with it. Newsroom will stand up to repeat viewings because of its writing. Homeland is a one-time story, once you know what happens, you know what happens. No charm of writing or anything. Just my personal opinion…

      4. Danny Harpersays:

        laconic? not a word I would use for this show. Newsroom is constantly spewing excessive dialogue that is too witty and cutting for its own good on topics that were interesting six months ago. I like Aaron Sorkins style but this show is too far up its own ass to be effective entertainment. Intelligent? yes. Pious, condescending, one-dimensional? yes as well. There are some interesting aspects, but you are giving it way too much credit. The supporting characters are flat and Jim is a completely unrealistic lead. The sad part of all this is the fact that I saw previews for this and thought it would be excellent. not the case. Maybe it will catch its stride, but right now there are way too many negatives to keep me as a viewer going forward.

        BTW, Mad Men and Breaking Bad are on a completely different level when it comes to television entertainment. I dont think they even should be compared, but yall started it.

      5. Pious, condescending, one-dimensional are hardly words that spring to mind when I think of Newsroom. I suppose audiences always want pandering feel-good TLC. Sure it is scathing, to everyone, to all sides. And that’s engaging for many of us.

        I enjoy the other shows too because they are all spectacular productions. With the kind of drought we see in Hollywood, it’s great to see that TV shows have picked up. I can’t wait for BB’s season 5 that has just started!

      6. Breaking Bad Season 4 and 5 btw have been full of episodes that could have and should have finished in 10 minutes because the story was just not there, but were somehow dragged on and on with slow storytelling. The first episode of Season 5 was a bit disappointing, to say the least.

        At least Newsroom has no dearth of things to say.

  2. I have been maintaining optimism for The Newsroom despite
    the loads of negative criticism that seems to be the majority vote. After
    reading your review, I am happy to see that I am not the only one out there
    that is rooting for the series. I must admit, however, that episode four left
    me fearful for how the rest of the season may play out. The prior episodes carried
    such substance as they boldly attacked our mainstream media and the flaws that
    exist within. I loved how it addressed controversial issues like that, which surely
    led to a slue of conversation around the office at Dish the next day. This
    Sunday’s episode carried no hard-hitting messages and only highlighted
    superficial plot points seen in every TV drama, like office sexual tensions and
    love triangles. I am curious to see where Sorkin takes the show from here, and
    already have next week’s episode set to record. Luckily, I have the Hopper DVR
    with a huge amount of recording space so, if The Newsroom does turn out to be the
    disappointment critics are hoping for, at least I didn’t waste precious memory
    on it. We’ll just have to keep our fingers cross that it lives up to the
    potential that it has already proven capable of doing.

  3. Stonebridgezsays:

    Lord knows, I want to like it. But honestly … soo predictable. The problems, as I see it: Old guy “mentor” just a little too old and feeble to be believably still functioning in a key role at a major news corporation. He’s like a cartoon – or is he the token senior (see Madmen) or is that Jane Fonda?. And the office romances – not one but TWO! The last time this plot line was interesting was Moonlighting. Dishevelled young brilliant newsguy, just a little to purposefully and carefully dishevelled. Young love interest – female, miscast. Not to be mean, but her acting is obvious and overstated, and face is common and uninteresting. And the dialogue – some characters can pull it off (see Will) and some cannot – (see girl who used to do skits on Daily Show). And the inconsistency … in one show everyone is afraid of Will and they walk on eggshells around him, on last night’s show these underling peons all throw water in his face as a hilarious prank – which he seems perfectly fine with. I agree, there’s not much out there so I will continue to watch, but it’s by no means a must see for me.

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