Monday, July 22, 2013

The Newsroom: "The Genoa Tip" - Baby Steps

The Cast of "The Newsroom"

There is a really good show here somewhere.  Somewhere past the romantic storylines and the soapbox speeches is a show about news producers putting on a great news broadcast.  Unfortunately, writer Aaron Sorkin hasn’t quite found that program yet, and in its second week, The Newsroom continues to make baby steps of progress while remaining largely the same.

We’ll get the bad stuff out of the way first.  The vortex that is this show’s love pentagon is starting to drag more characters down.  This week, Lisa discovers the YouTube video of Maggie screaming at the bus just as Maggie is set to move back in to their apartment.  This obviously doesn’t sit well with Lisa who alters their deal to reflect their new relationship status as landlord and tenant.  Sloane also gets dragged into things as Maggie tries to track down the woman who posted the YouTube video to get it taken down.  Thankfully, Jim and Don are kind of kept out of things this week, but seeing Sloane desperate to determine the current state of Maggie and Don’s relationship is just sad.  I’m kind of hoping Maggie goes to Africa sooner rather than later, if only so we can get a change in the status quo.

Also troublesome this week is the setup for the A-story of Troy Davis’s execution.  Apparently Don has been covering this story for nine years despite not telling anybody including, apparently, Will who, let’s not forget, has been Don’s boss for much of those nine years.  It just doesn’t make sense that these two would need to have a ten-minute conversation about Davis given that Don was Will’s producer for several years before The Newsroom began, but that was probably just selective amnesia on Sorkin’s part.

It’s unfortunate that Sorkin keeps fumbling the setup for his plotlines because the execution is much improved.  Like last week’s discussion on drone strikes, this is a very nuanced take on the Troy Davis case.  Don, as the one personally invested, obviously thinks Davis should receive a stay or clemency.  Will, the former prosecutor, finally shows some Republican leanings as the rule-of-law type who thinks that justice has properly been carried out.  It really is an interesting discussion that plays more like Sorkin trying to work out his own feelings about the case rather than him having already made up his mind and just lecturing the viewers with what he thinks they should believe.  Again, we’re talking baby steps here, but it makes the political issues far more enjoyable than they were last season.

There were a lot of stray plot threads running throughout this episode, so I’ll just run through my quick thoughts on them individually.

·         On the “Genoa” front, Jerry tracks down an ex-military source who not only knows about the sarin attack but claims to have been on the mission.  I like where this story is going, I only wish that it wasn’t the new guy pushing it.  He does seem to have dragged Mackenzie in, though, so maybe she’ll take the lead at some point.

·         Lisa tearing down Maggie (and breaking down the reasons why Maggie and Don go Jim to ask Lisa out) was a pretty fantastic scene.  I have a feeling, however, that these two characters, despite being roommates and friends, would massively fail the Bechdel Test right now.
·         Maggie is getting closer to heading off to Africa (we saw her having just returned during the premiere’s opening scene).  Apparently the reason she wants to go is so that she can be the staff expert on something, rightly recognizing that she doesn’t really have anything that makes her indispensible right now.  I can’t really tell if that’s a good reason or a bad reason, but at least it’s better than “to get away from relationship problems.”

·         We get an extended look at Will’s 9/11 coverage, which was apparently his first time at the anchor desk.  While I was affecting enough, I don’t know that it properly conveyed the idea that Will would become a beloved news anchor because of it.

·        There’s more Occupy Wall Street stuff.  Neal gets arrested.  That’s everything worth talking about.

·         And because it wouldn’t be an episode of The Newsroom without a demeaning stereotype towards women, Sloan Sabbath is obsessed with Elliot’s new closet.  At least it's a consistent, demeaning stereotype.

So, thoughts?  Comments?  Just want to tell me my blog sucks?  Let me know in the comments or fire away on Twitter @TyTalksTV.

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