The Newsroom S01 E02 – News Night 2.0

After a fantastic newscast last week (for us), Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) and his team, are on a high, and ready to reinvigorate their program, News Night, with some new ideas.

They want the best sources, to view the stories objectively, and supply information that will make decisions in the voting booth.

They want to return news broadcasting to a higher, more reliable ideal, instead of chasing stories for ratings that want facts.

Mac (Emily Mortimer) spearheads the plan in a pitch meeting, wherein Will reveals he’s stayed up the night before to learn everyone’s name and their skills.

It also sets up a catalyst. IT has changed email formats, and you know that is going to mean bad news.

It is April 23, 2010, and Arizona has just signed SB1070 into law, requiring anyone who looks like an immigrant over the age of 14 to carry their registration information with them at all times. To call this an incredibly controversial law doesn’t do it justice, and its polarizing for both parties. Will and company want to make sure they present a rational and objective look at it and starts running down interviews.

Maggie (Alison Pill) has a connection to the Arizona governor’s office, and they think they have the governor’s office on the hook for an interview for the night’s show.

The pre-interview falls apart, as Jim (John Gallagher Jr.) learns that Maggie briefly dated her contact, and it ended badly.

They lose the lead for tonight, and literally scrape the bottom of the barrel to find people to talk about the bill on the show that night. They find a second runner up for the Arizona beauty pageant, a member of the local militia, and a self-published doctor who, while forthcoming with his opinions in text, has nothing to say on air.

News Night is a train wreck, and all the newsroom can do is watch it spiral out of control.

Through all this, Mac has written an email that is now haunting her, instead of sending it directly to Sloan (Olivia Munn) who will be getting a 5-minute spot on News Night, it gets sent to everyone, and they all learn why she and Will broke up. Despite the fact that he asked her never to tell anyone.

All of these things, threaten to tear the newsroom apart, as the dialogue shoots up like sparks! I do love Sorkin’s writing.

Will ignores Mac when she tells him to dump the interviews, he keeps going out of vengeance and cruelty, though you can see even as he does it, he begins to regret it.

But in the end, it shows that even when things go bad, they will protect one another. Jim covers for Maggie, Mac covers for Jim, and Will covers for all of them.

And by shows end, the crew are commiserating together at a local karaoke bar, while Will debates his future, watching the New York skyline from his balcony.

Two episodes in, I’m completely hooked. As I felt the end of the episode drawing nigh, I so wished I had another episode ready to go right after it. A week is too long! I could totally find my way through the entire series in a day, if not a weekend.

It’s smart television, wrapping some fun interpersonal dynamics with wickedly sharp dialogue, around a cry, a desire for actual news, not a skewed corporate interpretation of it, in a play for ratings.

To quote Will from this week’s ep…

“I’m in.”

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