TVTV Recaps

THE NEWSROOM, “The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers” Episode Recap

A quick word about my thoughts on Season One of The Newsroom: I didn’t cover it last season, so I felt I needed to dump my thoughts on season one, just to set the tone for my reviews.

When Sorkin teamed himself up with Jeff Daniels, I was sold immediately. I am a longtime fan of Sorkin’s work as well as Daniels (both comedy and drama). The fact that the show is based in a newsroom was yet another hook, as I feel I’m fairly well informed and I voraciously hop on factcheck.org among other sites to help filter what I’m seeing on the 24-hour cable news channels. The Newsroom, as it’s been said many times before, is a 20/20 hindsight, whitewashing of history. Or at least, the show allows its liberal-leaning Sorkin-mouthpieces to have a strange bit of foresight and correct media mistakes before they happen. That is true. And I feel that was probably one of the biggest problems with the show. However, around episode 4, I decided to watch the show with a different perspective. This isn’t the news. It’s not informing us of anything. Especially if you’re fairly well informed. It’s a discussion with your liberal-leaning professor, uncle, or peer. So, sure, Will McAvoy had maybe a bit too much insight. Maybe he cut through the bullshit with a magical newsman-katana. But watch this show for what it is: A behind-the-scenes drama with some liberal-leaning reflection on major news stories from last year. And Alison Pill as Maggie. Ugh. I’ll get to her in a minute.

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“I sat on my newsman-katana!”

In last night’s episode “The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers” Will (Jeff Daniels) starts out in a deposition. He’s back to his old curmudgeonly, asshole ways, proving how he’s intellectually superior to AWN’s lawyer. It angers her. However, during the proceedings, we learn that back toward the end of 2011 (shortly after last season, for those keeping count), the news team made a mistake. Wait, what? Yes. They screwed something up. Sorkin is seemingly making up for all that whitewashing newsman-katana BS from last season. We jump back in time, but not before finding Maggie (Alison Pill), easily the most loathsome of the bunch, rushing in with her head down, looking much different than the manic pixie dream girl-wanna be she was last year (also much different than the Alison Pill nude tweet debacle). Her hair is chopped short and dyed. Whoa! What happened here? We don’t know anything other than she went to Uganda and some shit went down. Like…some serious shit.

 

Later, Maggie is seen having a good old time with Don (Thomas Sadoski), her boyfriend, and she’s still not been loathsome. But it’s not long before Pill comes back, trampling her first scene with Jim (John Gallagher) like a rampaging elephant high on crystal meth, having recently been tortured by her Circus slave-masters…what I mean to say is, Pill’s character is a joke. She’d have been fired 45 times by my count (a count I never did, don’t fact-check me on that), by her immense lack of professionalism. Somehow, an adult with the social maturity of a Bratz Doll was given a job at a major news network and no one seemed to notice that she can’t help but fuck up her relationships with two of her superiors. Somewhere along the line, Sorkin forgot how to write strong females. His through-line character for young females is yet another twit. As amazing as Mackenzie (Emily Mortimer) is, brilliant in the control room, she’s still socially inept. Sloan Sabbith (Olivia Munn), incredibly intelligent economist, can only stutter like a moron around Don. All of these women are supposedly intelligent, but babble incoherently any time their “man” shows up on the scene. Come on Sorkin, work out your shit. Where’s the Felicity Huff from Sportsnight or better yet, Stockard Channing and Allison Janney of The West Wing? Sorkin forgot how to write women. There, I said it.

 

Neal (Dev Patel), or the Bigfoot conspiracist (groan), finally shows a bit of journalistic professionalism. While he spent most of last season mired in asinine news stories, but now he has this unique ability to predict the importance of the Occupy Wall Street movement, when it’s 10 people sitting in a park using hand signals. While it’s an interesting set up, especially because not everyone is on board (Mackenzie), it’s a tad unrealistic. No one ever said in the 60’s, “hey I betcha that Free Love thing our neighbor is talking about will probably be a national movement someday”. Occupy grew through quiet moments and struck like a freak storm out of nowhere. You don’t expect us to believe Mr. Bigfoot saw it coming, do you?

 

I gripe. I moan. I complain. Because that’s what I’m not paid to do, you guys. But let me tell you, I fucking love this show. It just has some quality to it that I’m still working to put my finger on. Moments like last season when in “I’ll Try to Fix You”, everyone is embroiled in petty arguments, or stuck in a general banal work, and suddenly the news breaks of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, and everyone drops what they’re doing. Their emotions shift to moments of national tragedy, feeding what’s occurring in the news and behind the scenes. Bigfoot no longer matters. Will’s contract is a footnote that day. And while Coldplay sucks, that song drives an emotional stake through my vampiric heart, draining me into a tear-puddle on the couch. It’s those moments. And moments like Will singing what might end up becoming the most polarizing aspect of a show conceived on reflecting last year’s news, “Friday” by Rebecca Black.

It was a strong return, but I was hoping for more. Especially from where last season left off, with Will’s life seemingly in danger. That seems to be a non-issue now.

 

After-Thoughts:

 

–       I don’t think there’s a nerd out there who would disagree with Olivia Munn making nerds look good. Right?

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–       We don’t give a damn about the love quadrangle that is Maggie, Jim, Sloan and Don. Especially Maggie and Jim. Jim is much too cool…and for that matter, so is Don (a guy we’re supposed to hate…he’s probably the most relatable one, for me at least).

–       I’d listen to a late-night soft rock radio show with Jeff Daniels every single day for the rest of my life and die happy. Hey, can someone make this happen?

–       Ahhhh, nice! They’re jumping on the drone strikes. Will Sorkin move a bit closer to the middle with his 20/20 hindsight flexible history? Nah, Romney bus guy was a douche. Although, that might be the most accurate reporting on Sorkin’s part.

–       Oh god. One good (but also kind of bad) part of watching a show that plays with real events is we get to watch people who haven’t yet lost Steve Jobs. You want to just reach out, grab those dummies by their collar and say, “cherish these moments you son of a bitch. CHERISH!”

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The Author

Michael O'Brien

Michael O'Brien

Michael graduated with a degree in Creative Writing with a minor in Film Studies from Western Kentucky University in 2009. He currently lives with his wife, two cats (and Netflix account) in NYC. He has published short stories on 400words.com and asouthernjournal.com. He has published poems in The Poetry Gymnasium by Dr. Tom Hunley and in The Roundtable.