This week we follow New Night over the course of a number of their episodes, running from May 4, 2010 to November 2, 2010 when the 112th Congress goes into effect.
We see it all as it happens, but we learn fairly quickly, that we are being told this through Charlie (Sam Waterston) as he is being hauled over the coals by Reese Lansing (Chris Messina) and his mother Leona (Jane Fonda) the company’s CEO, for the loss of ratings and the fact that Will (Jeff Daniels) and his team are actually doing news and going after political leaders and parties to get the objective truth.
This bothers Leona, because once those people are sworn into congress, she has to go before them and do business with them, and she feels that Will’s ‘attacks’ will complicate things for her there.
And it starts right at the top of the episode. Will goes on the air, and publicly apologizes for his previous broadcasts, pandering to ratings instead of presenting the facts, good and bad to the viewing public as he should.
He gives an impassioned speech about their obligations as journalists, saying there are tons of them out there everyday, doing their job right, but get buried under things like corporate sponsors and ratings.
He goes so far as to announce himself and Mackenzie (Emily Mortimer) as the Media Elite and a champion of the facts.
This does wonders for the morale of the New Night team, but causes a little friction with Don (Thomas Sadoski) and Elliot (David Harbour) on the follow-up program at 10.
Jim (John Gallagher Jr) continues to moon over Maggie (Alison Pill) despite her on-again off-again relationship with Don. He and Neal (Dev Patel) have a wonderful little conversation about it, as Neal keeps urging him on towards Maggie. In fact he does help Maggie when she has a huge panic attack, and talks her down, while Don couldn’t even be bothered by it.
On air, over and over, Will goes after the radicalization of the Tea Party movement, interview after interview, until he can play the card that the Koch brothers were the major funding source of the party, simply using them as pawns to further their own corporate ends.
Mac: She’s a cheerleader?
Will: A professional cheerleader.
Mac: That doesn’t make it better.
We can tell these dates are hurting Mac, as each lovely lady shows up at the studio, and Maggie calls Will on it, asking him to please just meet them at the restaurant instead.
Finally, when Will goes to apologize to Mac, we get the reveal that she too is seeing someone, and Will looks a little hurt.
Leona fires the last shot though, letting Charlie know that if Will doesn’t play ball her way, she’ll fire him, and then, by contract, he’s not allowed to be on air for 3 years!
The dialogue continues to be whip-smart and often makes me laugh aloud, and clap in applause. I’ve grown to love/hate many of the characters, and I am quite hooked into this show.
Sorkin and his writing team have the stories and the dialogue, and they are played out each week by a fantastic cast. This is television as it needs to be fun and smart.
Happily HBO has already greenlit season 2, so YES!!
Have you been watching it?