As the opening title sequence appears for last night’s third episode of The Newsroom, I was struck by two things. The first was that images of news broadcasting in the golden era were displayed before jumping to shots of the main characters. Creator Aaron Sorkin and his team are making a direct comment: there hasn’t been good news journalism since these legends, and now, here’s a modern-day reimagining of what could be.
The second thing that struck me was the simple inclusion of the HBO logo before the show starts. Known for its risqué, ground-breaking programming, The Newsroom seems an odd fit. Sure, Sorkin is all the rage with his Oscar glory and all, but it’s not exactly a series that wouldn’t have fit on a commercial network. Did Sorkin just want to be able to say fuck 7 times an episode? I doubt it. This requires more research. We’ll follow this story as it develops.
Back to the point at hand, last night’s episode was a much more enjoyable ride. Naturally, the expository nature of a new show can be quite the demanding squeeze on time. What I mean is that these characters have been working at rapid-fire speed to catch our attention as already fully formed characters. But they are not thanks to Sorkin and episode co-writer Gideon Yago’s script and Greg Mottola’s direction. They are new characters that need much airtime to develop and grow. And they are.
Pacing was much easier to handle, with much more newsroom footage being shown. This alone cuts the speed of dialogue almost in half. Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) was less of a prick, Mackenzie MacHale (Emily Mortimer) was less of a klutz, Jim (John Gallagher Jr.) was less of a know-it-all, and Maggie (Alison Pill) had an interesting character development with some panic attacks.
Taking fire at the tea party continued the track of idealist commentary alongside the revisionist glory of hindsight. Will’s apology to the American public also proved an interesting point that surprisingly wasn’t included in the pilot episode.
After sitting silently for 50 minutes, Jane Fonda finally gets a chance to speak, and boy is it glorious. Leading with a story about privilege and entitlement where Moses and Jesus playing golf, Atlantis Cable News’ (ACN) CEO Leona Lansing (Fonda) opens up about the detrimental effects Will’s comments have on ACN’s business. This approximate five minute scene takes The Newsroom into much more interesting territory. Vested interests of media conglomerates play apart in the telling of news. We’ve seen it through discussions of Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited company and it’s Fox News channel.
Fonda pulls off authoritative command without even opening her mouth. And when she does, she fucking nails it. More Fonda please! All in all, the third episode was my favourite one yet.
The Newsroom airs Monday nights on the SoHo channel. Read more episode reviews of this season.