The Newsroom 2.01 “First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers” Review: Chips Are Falling

OB-YE434_newsro_E_20130714163130Chips are falling–Let’s play The Newsroom

I know what you are thinking: “What the hell is Operation Genoa?” According to Aaron Sorkin this will be a season long arc, so we should get expositional snippets throughout the season. Cyrus West tantalizingly refers to Genoa–no, I did not type Geneva, Will McAvoy. Chill out dude–as a story that “makes careers and ends presidencies.” In the opening sequence, the company’s lawyer, Rebecca Halliday, says the following:

“You went on the air with a story that alleged the US used nerve gas during an operation, which is a war crime, and a doctored interview and a producer who says that News Night conspired with the pentagon to cover up Operation [Genoa].”

There is also an inordinate amount of attention given to Maggie’s short red hairdo. Halliday burbles in Sorkin’s patented garrulous dialogue: What happened to her in Africa? I don’t understand? Her hair looked fine before. Why did she change it? What’s going on?

Rebecca, calm down. People change their hair. These things happen.

newsroom13-12-jpg_162024You know what else happens? Relationships are severed because that time you were yelling at Jim in front of droves of tourists on a bus about how convolved your “friendship” is–how you’re actually in love with Jim who is dating your best friend–was recorded and uploaded to youtube and sent to your boyfriend, because your cousin hates you and she has been harboring a crush on your boyfriend for years. Twenty-first century breakups are a pain! Oh, and thanks a lot Youtube! Youtube: Destroying relationships since 2005.

Maggie tells Jim that she just wants things to be normal between each other. She wants to put all the awkwardness and sexual tension behind them and start anew. Jim knows that is impossible and tells her so. Confronting this reality on a daily basis is too agonizing, so he marches into Mac’s office and demands to cover Romney bus; she reluctantly agrees.

The Romney bus turns out to be an occluded place for ACN after Will McAvoy made some incendiary comments about the Tea Party being “the American Taliban.” They are also restricted from the capital building on the SOPA hearings. Will has consequently been asked to call in sick for the cover of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. He additionally is very skittish about saying anything that isn’t univocally anti-terroism, which eventuates in him letting West dominate the discussion on drones.

Meanwhile, Neal has attended an Occupy Wallstreet general assembly as the movement is in its inchoate stages. Occupy Wallstreet has interdicted that no press be admitted to their assembly and Neal is kicked out. He does manage to score some questions with a girl who is the most eloquent of the bunch. He then explicates all of his concerns with Occupy Wallstreet: There are too many messages; they are too antagonistic to the media; they are unorganized because they lack a leader; etc.

11123-512-341In their season 2 premiere, The Newsroom appears to be getting more ambitious with its seasonal arc–telling it in a nonlinear fashion–and I’m not sure it is working. The thing I like about this show (which could easily be something one would dislike) is the heroic elevation of news anchors. There always seems to be so much at stake in the way they deliver the news. People are always running around in slow motion to music cues and celebrating wildly when there is a successful broadcast. It is as if the fate of the world depends on ACN to provide reliable news coverage.

I think that stuff is great and there are moments akin to that in “First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers.” I, for one, loved all of the melodrama of the technical difficulties (“G9 isn’t loading!”), and Will not reigning in West when he is categorically praising drones. I also enjoyed the scene of Will and Mac in the bar interpreting “You Better You Bet” by The Who. However, I don’t know if these things can coexist with this structure they are implementing. I hate to reproach The Newsroom for attempting to be smarter, but I don’t need this particular show to be artistically fulfilling. (This isn’t Breaking Bad. I don’t need to see the stuffed bear in the pool.)  I feel this show should be as overblown as possible and this structure may be detracting from that.

I also find it dubious that they will execute this effectively, but we’ll see. It’s still early.

 

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