Random Thoughts on The Newsroom Season 3, Episode 3

The third episode of The Newsroom season three (“Main Justice”) was clearly the worst one this year and one of the worst in the show’s history. It had several unbelievably ridiculous situations and an unpalatable dose of Aaron Sorkin’s disdain for newness. That said, it was also the sexiest episode in the show’s history, with a beautiful new addition to the cast and a scorching steam room scene. Here are some random thoughts on The Newsroom s3e3.

Anything Goes — The episode starts off with Atlantis Cable News producer Gary Cooper singing “Anything Goes” as he strolls into the office on a Saturday. After Gary turns the corner and sees the FBI raiding the office, “Anything Goes” quickly becomes, “What the f@ck is going on?!?”

I’ve always liked the Gary Cooper character and always been disappointed that he’s a background player. That’s true for this episode too, but the audience learns more about Gary this episode. He has a nice voice, he knows show tunes, and — thanks to a wonderfully awkward meeting with the new human resources VP — he’s the office lothario. Gary Cooper is cool.

News Night vs. the FBI — One of the most unbelievable scenes in The Newsroom’s entire run, the News Night gang engages the FBI in a game of chicken. Unhappy with the FBI’s search, ACN president Charlie Skinner pretends to call the Los Angeles studio with the intention of breaking in with a live report on the search of the New York office. The rest of the team follows his lead in an absurdly perfect way and the FBI falls for the ruse. I don’t believe for a second that a newsroom team could outsmart FBI agents through impressive improv skills. Come on now.

ACN For Sale — On the Atlantis World Media level, CEO Leona Lansing and president Reese Lansing go to Charlie’s office with the unfortunate news that they have to sell off ACN in order to retain control of AWM. Leona looks genuinely disappointed and touches Charlie’s hand in a subtle, but meaningful way. The guy the Lansings intend to sell to, Silicon Valley millionaire Lucas Pruitt, has all sorts of ridiculous “new media” ideas for the network. He’s also an unlikable prick. It’s another example of Aaron Sorkin’s disdain for the modern world. While I agree that a lot of modern reporting is wretched, the writing here is way too preachy. It’s the “good and pure” old-fashioned way of reporting the news vs. the “crap and tainted” way that new media does it. Like I mentioned in my last recap, modern media has introduced many excellent things along with a lot of trash. Writing about a “people stalking Danny Glover channel” is preposterous and I can’t believe that a Silicon Valley millionaire would propose such a preposterous idea.

Slumdog Millionaire’s Venezuelan Vacation — The audience learns that Neal Sampat is hiding out in Venezuela (no extradition!) by way of Cuba by way of Calgary. His situation has gone from bad to worse. The News Night superpowers and their awesome lawyer have been summoned to Washington for a source shakedown. News Night anchor Will McAvoy believes that his star status will protect him from the worst. Unfortunately, he’s served a subpoena at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The law is coming down hard on Neal and the News Night staff. Apparently the government doesn’t like journalists assisting in espionage and (accidentally) coercing sources to uncover classified government documents.

The Source is…Hot — At the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the source of the leaked documents revealed herself. She’s played by the lovely Clea DuVall. I’ve always been a fan of her and I was thrilled to see her on the show. She stole my heart in But I’m a Cheerleader and now she steals classified government documents in The Newsroom. Clea has come full circle (not really). While seeing sexy Clea DuVall was fantastic, she wasn’t the sexiest part of this episode. That distinction goes to the…

Sexy Cougar Steam RoomNews Night executive producer McKenzie MacHale had a clandestine meeting with her longtime friend, FBI special agent Molly Levy. The scene was…hot. Watching two beautiful cougars discussing serious matters in a steam room while wearing nothing but towels leaves a lot to the imagination. I can see the fan fiction now. “Special agent Levy searched Mac, caressing her in a commanding and sensual way that made sure that Mac knew that she must have her now.” Hold on. I’m going to go watch that scene again.

Jim Harper, Doormat — Senior producer Jim Harper had a lot more screen time this episode, but spent most of it getting his ass kicked by the women in his life. Associate producer Maggie Jordan treated him like dirt (more on that later) at the office, while his girlfriend Hallie Shea (Meryl Streep’s daughter) treated him like dirt at home.

The argument between Jim and Hallie touched a nerve with me. Hallie received a job offer from a website that awards its writers bonuses for traffic. That’s a common thing these days, but Jim was shocked by the practice. On one hand, it fits into Sorkin’s “I hate the Internet!” ramblings. On the other hand, traffic bonuses are responsible for millions of crappy articles. I hate the practice for lowering the standards for Internet writing and introducing the clickbait phenomenon, but I’ve also accepted that that’s how the Internet works these days.

New Competent Maggie — Oh Maggie…what have you become? Once the awkwardly charming girl in the office, Maggie has become a confident and successful woman. She has also become completely unlikable (at work, anyway). She’s belligerent, insubordinate, and violent in the office. I hate the message that sends. It’s as if you have to be an a-hole in order to be successful. While that’s true in many cases, there are plenty of nice people that have accomplished great things. Hopefully it doesn’t get to the point where the audience is thinking, “I wish you died in Uganda, Maggie!!!” With two episodes left, there might not be enough time to redeem her.

Human Resources Hates Love — The aforementioned new VP of human resources has it out for interoffice romance. While Will is too big of a star to go after, the HR guy takes aim at 10PM executive producer Don Keefer and his sometime replacement anchor Sloan Sabbith (played by the dreadful Olivia Munn, but you already knew that). This storyline seems like filler. It feels so unimportant with the FBI raiding the office and the team reporting on the end of the world. Speaking of which…

This is the End — The Environmental Protection Agency admin that Maggie met last episode was a guest on the Friday edition of News Night. On the show, he looked and sounded like an utterly defeated man that had given up all hope. He “shared” his hopelessness with News Night’s viewers, saying that the environment has been damaged beyond hope and that there are people alive today that will die because of what humans have done to the planet. While Don and Sloan dating is unimportant compared to the FBI vs. News Night, perhaps none of it matters if the world is coming to an end.

That would be funny if he was an intentionally crappy guest just to get back at Maggie. Then again, maybe it wouldn’t be. It would annoy the hell out of me if Maggie gets depressed over the dramatically dire story she produced and jumps lovingly into Jim’s waiting arms. Ugh.

Random Thoughts on The Newsroom Season 3, Episode 2

The second episode of The Newsroom season three had more of what fans love and what critics hate about Aaron Sorkin’s show. It also had an ending that felt incongruous with the rest of the episode. The show had a pair of triumphant returns (Leona! Rebecca!), a pair of lovely new additions, and an ending that felt like The Fugitive. Here are some random thoughts on The Newsroom s3e2.

Return of the Awesome Old Ladies — Leona Lansing (Jane Fonda) and Rebecca Halladay (Marcia Gay Harden) are two of the best characters in The Newsroom. As the CEO of Atlantis World Media (AWM) and the company’s legal counsel, respectively, they’re a pair of powerful women that are proud of their power. Fonda and Harden deliver their lines sharply, but in different ways. Fonda’s Lansing is an in-your-face tigress, while Harden delivers Halladay’s lines softly, but the impact is just as hard. They’re immensely entertaining characters and it’s wonderful to have them in the mix again.

A Douche on the Side of the Angels — For me, the show’s MVP continues to be Reese Lansing. Aaron Sorkin writes a lot of great lines for a lot of characters in every episode, but so far Chris Messina has been doing the best job of owning scenes. As the president of AWM, Reese is dealing with a hostile takeover from his half-siblings, Randy and Blair. The incredibly sexy Kat Dennings is a fantastic antagonist as Blair, while Christopher Nicholas Smith plays a delightfully vapid Randy Lansing. While Dennings is easier to pay attention to due to her gorgeous looks and harsh lines, I was impressed with Smith’s portrayal of a slow trust-fund kid. He reminded me of several people I’ve met in Los Angeles.

Getting back to Reese Lansing, Messina has crushed the first two episodes of The Newsroom. Other actors on the show have had lines written for them that are on par with Messina’s, but nobody has been as consistent with their delivery.

Don and Sloan Get Testy — On the romantic front, an unfortunate situation with insider trading has gotten Don and Sloan to label their relationship. There’s some great banter between the two, starting with buffet trickery and ending with an awesome “I love you” test. The chemistry between these two characters is great and I have to give it up to Olivia Munn. She might be a wretched human being, but she’s highly entertaining in The Newsroom. Between the seriousness of the AWM hostile takeover and Neal’s accidental espionage, Don and Sloan provide a fun and frivolous distraction from the weighty issues.

Scenes From a Train — Heading back from her television debut in Boston, producer Maggie Jordan in on a train heading back to New York. I’m not sure why 10PM anchor Elliot Hirsch isn’t with her, but I’m guessing he stayed behind with his family in Boston or talent was entitled to a more advanced form of transportation. Whatever the case, Maggie makes the most out of her AmTrak ride. She overhears a rep from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expressing his (off-the-record) disgust with the Obama administration, confronts the EPA agent over his comments, feels guilty about slouching in a chair to spy on the EPA guy’s conversation, decides not to do anything with the info she overheard, and is rewarded by the EPA guy with an exclusive story. Oh yeah, she also catches the eye of a strapping young Fordham Law professor.

On paper, Maggie’s AmTrak adventure is way to preachy and unrealistic. She got the information fair and square, and I can’t imagine a producer just dropping it. The Newsroom’s pundits will point to this situation as another naive and dreamy Sorkin parable that shows that people will be rewarded for doing the right thing. She snagged an exclusive and a handsome man by being a just person! While I understand people hating this storyline, Alison Pill was really cute in it.

[Side Note: The handsome Fordham Law professor was played by Jimmi Simpson. He and Thomas Sadoski acted together in the Jason Biggs’ classic Loser.]

Superflous Jim — Atlantis Cable News senior producer is still a background player after two episodes. This time around, he was featured in a superfluous storyline with his girlfriend Hallie Shea (Meryl Streep’s daughter!). For reasons that defy logic, Hallie sends out a tweet on the ACN account — the kind of tweet that would never be typed by an experienced reporter. Naturally, the tweet gets picked up by every Internet outlet imaginable and Hallie gets fired. Aside from Sorkin reinforcing his disdain for Twitter and the Internet in general, these scenes were useless filler.

Sexy Thick Mary McCormack — Early in the episode, ACN executive producer MacKenzie McHale goes shooting with her FBI agent friend Molly Levy. Mac isn’t really there to sharpen her skills as a marksman. Instead, she asks Agent Levy how much trouble Neal Sampat is really in and if he will get nailed for espionage. Levy says that Neal will probably get slapped with a contempt charge and likely spend 10 days in jail. Happenstance being what it is, Agent Levy just happens to be in charge of the FBI raid on ACN. That was way too convenient.

When I first saw Agent Levy, she looked familiar to me. Then I figured it out — she played Howard Stern’s wife in Private Parts! Actress Mary McCormack has gotten quite a bit thicker since Private Parts, but I found her to be very sexy. Her face is still beautiful, I like the idea of a hot FBI agent having her way with me, and chicks with guns are hot.

Slumdog Fugitive — Neal Sampat spent most of this episode in a conference room, reviewing his legal situation with Rebecca and, eventually, most of the ACN senior staff. He adamantly wants to report on the leaked documents he received and is prepared to deal with the consequences. The Newsroom hero and News Night anchor Will McAvoy doesn’t want to see one of his charges go to jail. After several rounds of intense debate, Will notices that Neal’s expression has changed. Neal appears content, which Will immediately picks up on and knows that the FBI will hit the office shortly. The two have a very cute big brother/little brother moment…

…and then the episode got weird. Instead of the comedic drama that usually fills The Newsroom, the episode jarringly shifts to a spy thriller. Will makes creative use of menus to send secret messages. Neal destroys his phone and goes on the run. While the drama definitely hit a new level, Neal becoming “The Fugitive” felt strange. Oh well, let’s see where it ends up next week.

Random Thoughts on The Newsroom Season 3, Episode 1

The boys and girls of Atlantis Cable News are back! Everyone’s (not everyone’s) favorite dramatization of not-quite current events, Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom, has returned and my world feels a whole lot better. While I understand why some people hate-watch the show, I’m a sucker for Sorkin’s witty, dense, and rapid-fire writing. Here are some random thoughts and reflections on “Boston,” the first episode of The Newsroom season three.

Still dealing with the fallout of the Operation Genoa story, the News Night gang is trying to gain back the trust of the public. The crew is understandably skittish and gun shy. Thankfully, that didn’t get in the way of two important questions being asked:

Why did Greek yogurt suddenly become a thing? — Will MacAvoy

When did walnuts start going into chicken salad?!? — Elliot Hirsch

Bridesmaids to Bombings — The episode starts in Will McAvoy’s office, where our hero and his bride-to-be (and executive producer) MacKenzie McHale are discussing the amount of bridesmaids for their upcoming nuptials. Mac has nine bridesmaids pegged, but Will doesn’t have nine male friends to match up with them. Suddenly, Mac catches an explosion on a monitor. It’s the tragic Boston Marathon bombing, which serves as the real-news backdrop of the episode.

Don Still Rules — Meanwhile, the coolest cat in the newsroom — Don Keefer — is stuck in jury duty. He gets a text about the bombing and awesomely talks his way out of his civic duties. Don is far from the antagonistic prick he was in the first few episodes of season one, but his wit is still (entertainingly) razor sharp. I really enjoyed Don playfully taking jabs at Sloan’s “investigation” (more on that later) and Neal’s crackpot Internet sources. While this was a good Don episode, he wasn’t my MVP this show. That award goes to…

A Kindler, Gentler Reese — Speaking of no longer being an antagonistic prick, Atlantis World Media president Reese Lansing has done a total 180. Formerly a corporate overlord that only cared about the bottom line, Reese now onboard with News Night’s mission to do the news “right.” He supports the newsies, while also challenging them with the realities of business. In addition to dealing with the ACN crew, Reese has to deal with running all of AWM, his party-happy siblings, potentially disastrous quarterly earnings, and a bomb dropped by Sloan (again, more on that later). Chris Messina is fantastic in this role. His character is juggling a bunch of plots and he deftly delivers memorable lines concerning each of them.

Aaron Sorkin Hates the Internet: While it permeated several episodes of the first two seasons, The Newsroom writer’s disdain for the Internet is the loudest it has ever been in this episode. He rails on all the Internet writers that spreaded bad information on the Boston Marathon bombing. Innocent people were incorrectly identified as suspects by Internet writers and the Internet being what it is, the misinformation spread like wildfire. While Sorkin has a point in this particular case and there’s certainly a ton of crap Internet reporting, his preachiness comes off as antiquated. There are a lot of great resources on the Internet and there’s also a lot of crap reporting in old media. In fact, I’d say that it’s easier to find credible reporting on the Internet than it is on television. Still…love the dude’s writing.

Mike Tyson Olivia Munn Mysteries — The most unbelievable part of this episode was our dear friend Olivia Munn’s storyline. As you know, her character Sloan Sabbith has two PhDs in economics. Olivia Munn playing a character with dual doctorates is difficult to believe, but since her character’s social awkwardness often overshadows her intellect, it’s easy to forget that she’s supposed to be a financial genius. In this episode, Sloan is using her $24,000 Bloomberg Terminal to uncover a mysterious media buy. Yeah…right. Watching Olivia look at a Bloomberg Terminal, pretending to extract essential information was hilarious. It reminded me of Denise Richards pretending to be a nuclear physicist that uses her vast scientific knowledge to bail out James Bond. Suspension of disbelief is impossible.

Tag Team Promos — My favorite scene in this episode was ACN president Charlie Skinner and Will chastising the staff for cheering about a CNN retraction. Sam Waterston was brilliant, as always, while Jeff Daniels hilariously played the stooge. It reminded me of this Vince McMahon and Steve Austin locker room sketch. Charlie lead the speech, while Will comedically reinforced everything Charlie said.

Slumdog SnowdenThe Newsroom’s Internet nerd, Neal Sampat, gets a beefy plot this season, as he received more than 27,000 stolen government documents. Neal mentioned Wikileaks in a previous episode and is the only character equipped to handle an Edward Snowden-like situation. Unfortunately, he asked for a few more documents from his mysterious source. Will points out that this constitutes espionage. I’ve been a fan Dev Patel since Slumdog Millionaire and I’m happy that his character has more to work with this season. I also love that he’ll be heavily interacting with AWM’s hired legal gun Rebecca Halliday, awesomely portrayed by Marcia Gay Harden.

Where’s Waldo Jim?News Night’s senior producer is a background player in this episode, but I have a feeling that he’ll get more play on the romantic front in future shows. For reasons that don’t make sense to me, Jim’s girlfriend Hallie Shea (Meryl Streep’s daughter!) now works as Neal’s minion at News Night instead of running her own political website. You know, because the office needs another romantic coupling on top of the Will/Mac and Don/Sloan pairings. Jim recommends the former object of his affection, Maggie Jordan, to serve as Elliot Hirsch’s field producer in Boston. Will and Mac are skeptical, but Maggie comes through. After her triumphant moment, Jim gets a little twinkle in his eye. I’m hoping that Jim will have a Betty/Veronica situation, but don’t really expect one to get fleshed out since this season is only six episodes long.

Our Little Maggie is All Growns Up — Still traumatized by the tragedy she experienced in Africa, Maggie has exchanged bad haircuts for hellish stomach crunches. Working on the Boston story with 10PM anchor Elliot Hirsch, Maggie has to shift from field producer to on-air talent after she mistakenly gives Elliot some chicken salad with walnuts. Elliot is allergic to walnuts and his tongue starts swelling, rendering him incapable of coherent speech. After Maggie nails her television debut, Elliot gives her a tender, fatherly hug. I’m kind of meh on Maggie right now. She was adorably awkward in season one and annoyingly angry in season two. That said, I’ll always give her a chance. The character reminds me so much of my dear Zoe (Alison Pill’s awkward hand gestures are eerily similar to my Best Best’s).

McAvoy Rises — Will had a strange outing this episode. As expected, he was gruff and shouty throughout the show, but he started on a weak note. He absolutely failed at giving a pep talk, meant to invigorate the crew as they pursued the Boston Marathon story. Later, he served as Charlie’s John Oates during a dress-down speech. He closed out the show with a confidently angry soliloquy that we expect from him. While he’s the center of The Newsroom, I enjoyed that he wasn’t the center of this particular episode.

Coming Next — As a fan of The Newsroom since day one, I enjoyed this episode. It wasn’t the best, but I didn’t expect it to be. Since the final run is only six episodes long, there were a lot of plots to establish. This episode got them all running, while serving up the rapid-fire dialogue that Sorkin fans love. More importantly, it got me excited about the rest of the season. I’m looking forward to some Neal and Rebecca legal powwows. I can’t wait for Jane Fonda’s triumphant return as AWM CEO Leona Lansing. Most of all, I’m terribly excited to see Kat Dennings’ debut on the show. That woman is pretty close to perfection.

If you have a chance, let me know what you thought of the “Boston” episode of The Newsroom.

Random Thoughts on The Newsroom Season 2, Episode 9

The Newsroom finale (seasons 2) wrapped up one season’s worth of intrigue and two seasons of romance in a single, neatly wrapped episode. Couples were joined, bold executive decisions were made, bad haircuts were explained, and more. In some ways, The Newsroom finale felt like it could wrap up the show for good. While HBO has publicly stated that it would like to have a third season, it hasn’t confirmed that it’s in the works and writer Aaron Sorkin’s schedule is packed. While I expect and hope the show will return, it’s possible that the season 2 Newsroom finale will be it for the Atlantis Cable News crew. *sniff*

Juggling Jim: The biggest problem I had with The Newsroom finale (and this season) was Jim Harper. The thoughtful and sensitive senior producer sports a bad haircut…and get all the ladies. He patched things up with Maggie (his object of desire in s1), reconciled with Lisa (his s1 consolation prize), managed to get Maggie and Lisa to make up with each other, and solidified his relationship with his current girlfriend (Meryl Streep’s daughter). Jim’s successful social maneuverings in The Newsroom finale send a poor message to impressionable young males. It’s as dangerous as the “Disney Princess” syndrome. PSA: You can’t be successful at work, sensitive, thoughtful, and have a bad haircut AND get the girl. The real world doesn’t work that way kids. Also, why didn’t anyone drop sarin gas on Jim?!? That would have ruled.

Will Scores: ACN star anchor Will McAvoy came to the slow (six-year) realization that he was being a dick to his lifelong love McKenzie Morgan McHale. It seemed totally contrived that he finally figured it out now. It would have been more realistic if he tried to forgive and forget years ago or if he never let go of his anger for the rest of his life. Still, his awkward proposal was very sweet and it was nice to see Mc and Mac finally together in The Newsroom finale. At least it wasn’t as excruciating as Ross and Rachel on Friends. Also, the name McKenzie Morgan McHale MacAvoy is awesome. Quadruple M vs. Triple H at WrestleMania XXX?!?

Don Scores: “What I have can’t be taught,” said Don Keefer, cementing his status as the coolest cat in the ACN newsroom. It seemed likely that Don was behind the Sloan Sabbith mystery bid. The Newsroom finale revealed his scheme. The sly fellow keenly knew that he’d have to be crafty and sweet in order to compete with the financial geniuses and NY Giants that woo Sloan. His gambit paid off, with Sloan (played by the dreadful Olivia Munn) signing her book, grabbing him for a kiss, and slapping the book in his chest. Score.

Don also showed that he has evolved from the skillful-but-shallow ratings-first producer he was in s1 and is fully invested in ACN’s mission to be MSNBC’s sardonic cousin. It was cool seeing ACN president Charlie Skinner smile at Don in the opening scene, like a proud father happy with what his son has become…or Emperor Palpatine looking satisfied with his machinations. Passionate Don made a brief cameo, telling ACN lawyer Rebecca Halliday about his desire to do the news with his ACN family. Dick Don showed up in the same scene, detailing his plan to countersue the vile Brian Fantana Jerry Dantana.

Leona’s So High, High Above Me: I adore Atlantis World Media CEO Leona Lansing. Jane Fonda plays her with delightful aggression as a powerful and commanding executive. I don’t enjoy high-as-a-kite Leona Lansing as much, but it’s close; high Leona is hilarious and I’d love to hang out with her. While Charlie was talking to her about a serious matter, Leona’s cannabis-fueled aside of, “Do you want to split a pizza?” killed me.

Honorable Reese: Leona’s son, AWM president Reese Lansing, finally got on the same page as the rest of the gang in The Newsroom finale…and his honorable intentions were brushed aside. I felt bad for him. He should have been commended for coming around and doing the “honorable thing” that was bad for business. Instead, Charlie continued to treat him like a bitch. I’m not sure what the writers intended, but The Newsroom finale made the show’s villain sympathetic. Oh well, at least he gets to date a third-generation Rockette.

Maggie Clicks Her Mouse: Maggie finally explained her bad haircut to Jim, something that the audience understood for weeks. She also opened up about what was fueling her snooty behavior. She has a tender moment with Jim about how he got her attention by clicking his mouse (not a euphemism for masturbation). While I loved most of how The Newsroom finale ended, having it close with Maggie clicking her mouse (still not a euphemism for masturbation) was too cheesy for me. While I normally love saccharine and cheesy moments on television, my disdain for this character slightly tarnished the show’s ending.

Sabbith Seeds: I’m hoping that The Newsroom finale will lead to Sloan Sabbith’s heel turn. When Will gave his chair to Elliot for a segment, Sloan looked perturbed. Perhaps she felt snubbed that Will picked Elliot over her (never mind that Elliot is a far more experienced host). Throughout the newscast, Sloan was cut off by election calls. I’m hoping that this will lead to Sloan feeling like she deserves a bigger role at ACN and getting upset that she’s not a bigger star. Olivia Munn would be awesome in this role — talent that thinks she’s way more important than she actually is. If this comes to pass, Munn will surely win several Golden Globe and CableACE Awards for her accurate portrayal of a self-absorbed television host.

Random Thoughts on The Newsroom Season 2, Episode 8

Last night’s episode of The Newsroom was vintage Aaron Sorkin (read that sentence as if WWE Michael Cole said it). The tension at the ACN newsroom was palpable. It was election night, which is like the Super Bowl, the World Series, or the Electronic Entertainment Expo for newsies. The Operation Genoa lawsuits (yes, multiple) added even more tension. Sprinkle in the traditional Sorkin ingredients of ill-timed humor, romantic squabbling, and neurotic obsessions over inconsequential matters then The Newsroom episode 8 delivered what Sorkin fans love and Sorkin detractors hate.

Charlie Rules: Sam Waterston owned this episode as ACN News president Charlie Skinner. His gruff humor (often fueled by whiskey) was outstanding. Prior to the election newscast, he gave a pep talk that was straight out of a football movie. He had a wonderful confrontation with ACN anchor Will Will McAvoy and company lawyer Rebecca Halliday; it ended with Charlie chiding Will for smoking, taking Will’s cigarette, and puffing on it as he walked out the door. (He also spoke in plot summaries, which is awfully convenient for people that have missed a few episodes of The Newsroom). His confrontation with Atlantis World Media president Reese Lansing was another great moment. This was Charlie’s best episode of the season and his scenes rocked.

Shiny Happy Will: With the biggest broadcast of the year happening and scandalous lawsuits landing the next day, Will appointed himself in charge of the ACN newsroom’s moral. Charlie thought it was sad that “the most miserable man in the building” took the task. Sloan and Elliot were unnerved by Will’s cheerful cry of, “Are you ready to have some fun?!?” Still, not all was bright in Will’s world. His lifelong love/object of hate MacKenzie McHale desperately wants him to fire her. She even went so far as accusing Will of not firing her to protect his image, which led to the awesome line of, “How big of a dick do you think I am and how long have you thought it?!?” The episode ended with Will firing Mac and asking a panelist to skewer him on air. Dum dum dum!!! (Just a guess, but perhaps Mac is pushing Will’s buttons so that she can be the Genoa martyr.)

Reese is Not Gay: My favorite scene of this episode was Atlantis World Media president Reese Lansing’s tangental monologue about his conversation with his mother. It started with Reese recounting his request for his mom to reconsider not accepting the resignations of Charlie, Will, Mac, and the rest of the newsroom. It segued into Leona Lansing (as told by Reese) asking her son for grandchildren, questioning if he’s gay, and arguing Reese’s claim that he hasn’t found the right woman. While Charlie’s scenes dominated and made this episode, this little gem of a scene was delightful.

The Seinfeld Newsroom: When things get tough, people often try to distract themselves from dire situations by focusing on trivial pursuits. Sloan Sabbith — played by the trivial Olivia Munn — was obsessed with solving the mystery of an auctioned book that contained her forged signature. Mac was frustrated by her attempt to change an error on her Wikipedia page; she was hung up that Wikipedia listed her college as Oxford instead of Cambridge. In both cases, the ladies relied on the only man in the newsroom that could solve their problems….

Slumdog Tech Savior: Of course Neal Sampat was enlisted to fix the problems. The ACN newsroom would fall apart without Slumdog Millionaire! He diligently and dutifully worked on the cases. He even got Mac to apologize for England’s colonization of India. I’ve long suspected that Mac’s sometimes unfair treatment of Neal stemmed from said colonization. It’s probably coded into her DNA…and reminds me of how I always suspect any white person from South Africa of supporting apartheid. Anyway, Slumdog Millionaire is still awesome and adds a much-needed dose of “Brown Power!!!” to The Newsroom.

Don’s Doldrums: The coolest cat in the newsroom (and The Newsroom) had some funny one-liners. I love his rapport with host Elliot Hirsch. They’re like a pair of brothers that love and hate each other. Sadly, Don found out that Brian Fantana Jerry Dantana is filing a separate suit for $20-million. In a Machiavellian move, Dantana used Don as a reference for a job at Kickstarter. He counted on Don blasting him and, of course, that’s exactly what happened. In addition to telling the Kickstarter hiring manager about Dantana’s colossal failure, Don also called Jerry a sociopath, which apparently counts as tortious interference in New York.

Snarky Maggie: I’m not sure what’s going on with Maggie. Losing the men in her life, losing her best friend, and having a young African child die on her back has…caused her to become a snarky bitch with a bad haircut. In the teasers for season two, it was revealed that Maggie would lose everything and suffer a complete breakdown. That hasn’t happened yet. Instead, the adorably hapless Maggie has been replaced by an unlikable wench.

Liquid Sex: Marcia Gay Harden’s character, the aforementioned lawyer Rebecca Halliday, declared herself liquid sex. It made my cougar meter redline.

Random Thoughts on The Newsroom Season 2, Episode 7

I skipped out on recapping last week’s episode of The Newsroom because I found it a bit dull (yet still watched it 11 times). Will had a sweet moment on ACN Morning and the Operation Genoa story continued to unveil, but too much of it was tiresome. I was tired of Lugubrious Will, Cock Blocked Jim, and Not Getting Any Action Don. Thankfully, this week’s episode was thunderous. It was dramatic and ended with a stentorian roar. Let’s start at the ending.

Leona Lansing is Mariano Rivera: Jane Fonda came in at the end of this episode of The Newsroom and made it her bitch. She completely owned it and starred in the best scene of the season (possibly the second-best Newsroom scene ever behind Will’s speech at Northwestern in s1e1). Her character, Atlantis World Media CEO Leona Lansing, dominated the last three and half minutes of the show with a passionate, charged, and hilarious diatribe. It showed so many sides of her character — her toughness, her wonderfully harsh sense of humor, and her hidden love for Atlantis Cable News. It was a thrilling way to close the show and reminded me of Mariano Rivera closing out an exciting Yankee game.

Don Keefer Lights it Up: Naturally, the best episode of the season kicked of with The Newsroom’s best character. Don was at his sardonic best, “working” with ACN’s lawyer. He also had several great moments in the “Red Team” meetings — sharp lines that only Don Keefer can deliver with the proper bite. While Don is no closer to a relationship with Sloan Sabbith than he was in s2e1, he’s still the coolest cat in the newsroom. This character rules.

A Few Good Men (and Women): One of the reasons I enjoyed this episode so much was that it was a legal drama. Twelve Angry Men, A Few Good Men, and Primal Fear are some of my favorite movies of all time. In this episode, The Newsroom’s use of real-world events and romantic comedy took a backseat to the legal drama. Having ACN’s lawyer played by the excellent Marcia Gay Harden helped too. Hmmmm, the people that say that The Newsroom portrays women as fools need to look at the characters played by Jane Fonda and Marcia Gay Harden. Those ladies are tough.

Shot-Clock Violation: Brian Fantana Jerry Dantana doctored some raw footage of a key Operation Genoa interview so that it would tell the story he wanted told. When the interviewee insisted on leaving March Madness basketball games playing in the background (s2e6), I knew that the shot clock would play a role in the Operation Genoa report unraveling. Honestly, I thought it was silly that nobody caught it. You had the news teams from two shows and 30 ACN lawyers combing over the material. While I understand that the enormity of the story was foremost on their minds, I don’t see how all of them missed the shot clock jumping back and forth. I was kind of disappointed that MacKenzie was the one that eventually spotted it. It seemed like something Slumdog Millionaire would have sleuthed.

Sloan Dislocates Her Shoulder: Sloan Sabbith didn’t do a lot in this episode, which means that Olivia Munn didn’t have many opportunities for unbelievable acting (playing a character that has two doctorates is one thing, but playing someone embarrassed by naked photos is completely unbelievable). Since dear Olivia was denied the opportunity to offend, you should watch her dislocate her shoulder. The video is a week old, but it’s still frickin’ hilarious!

Random Thoughts on The Newsroom Season 2, Episode 5

This week’s episode of The Newsroom used a pair of emotionally heavy real-world events as the backdrop — Trayvon Martin’s murder and Tyler Clementi’s suicide. Unfortunately, the impact of those stories was overshadowed by Olivia Munn’s horrendous acting. While she can be entertaining in comedic roles, this week her character dealt with a situation that…well, let’s just jump into it Continue reading “Random Thoughts on The Newsroom Season 2, Episode 5”

Random Thoughts on The Newsroom Season 2, Episode 4

Things are moving fast in The Newsroom. A lot happened in s2e4, so let’s jump right into it.

The Return of Dick Don: After getting Sensitive Don, Passionate Don, and Jar Jar Don in the first three episodes of the show, I was starting to wonder if the lovably roguish Dick Don (DD) was gone for good. In episode four, DD made his return, but it wasn’t as triumphant and glorious as it could have been. Before I get to that, let’s go over some DD highlights. Continue reading “Random Thoughts on The Newsroom Season 2, Episode 4”

Random Thoughts on The Newsroom Season 2, Episode 3

After a first episode with heavy setup and a second episode with a lot of setup, season two of The Newsroom appears to be hitting its stride in the third episode. Most of the characters played to their strengths and turned up the volume. The lone exception was Don, who is disturbingly and frustratingly stuck in “Nice Guy Don” mode. Here are some assorted thoughts on episode three.

Ballers: Several characters got their balls back this week (metaphorically speaking). After two episodes of being an insufferable woe-is-me whiner, Jim fights back on the Romney campaign and even manages to charm Meryl Streep’s daughter. Slumdog Millionaire gets frustrated that his Occupy Wall Street coverage keeps getting shot down and uncharacteristically barks back at MacKenzie. Sloan, played by our not-the-least-bit beloved Olivia Munn, slices up her executive producer in a way that would be sexy if the character wasn’t being played by one of the worst people on Earth. There was a lot of fire in this week’s episode and it was quite enjoyable.

J.A.W.: Will McAvoy was at his best this episode — Jumbled Amazing Will (J.A.W.) — which is to say that he was all over the place. He gleefully tore apart the republican candidates for not sticking up for a gay soldier, irrationally terrorized the newsroom over a press leak, angrily laid into Mac over their turbulent relationship, charmingly asked Nina Howard (played by the awesome Hope Davis) to kill a story, and softly denied that he was still in love with Mac. To top it all off, the episode ended with him getting laid. He showed a wide range of emotions and got a lot done. This is why he’s the show’s hero.

Charlie Returns…Almost: Although the head of ACN’s news division had some funny lines in the first two episodes of the season, they lacked the bite and impact of his best lines from first season. Charlie had better moments in episode three. While they didn’t quite pack the punch of his best zingers, they were a step in the right direction. Hopefully this trend continues.

Don’s Regression: I’m still trying to figure out what the hell happened to Don Keefer. He used to be the Han Solo of ACN’s news division. This week he was Jar Jar Binks. He unsuccessfully put tire-like wheels on his chair, leading to a bit with physical comedy. His chair is way to low and causes him to fall if he leans back. Where is the roguishly dickish Don that ruled the show in season one?!? That guy ruled. Now we have this sensitive fellow that keeps falling out his chair. *sigh*

Maggie is a Mess: Things are coming to a head for Maggie. Don dumped her, Jim’s treating her “like a sister,” and her best friend (that she has to live with for financial reasons) isn’t speaking to her. To prepare for her trip to Uganda, she started taking meds that have lots of side effects — irrational fear, suicidal thoughts, homicidal thoughts, itchiness, etc. Never mind that these side effects aren’t supposed to show up for another week. Maggie is an emotional mess now and is using the meds as an excuse to act out. It’s very cute (though not cute enough to help you figure out why Jim fell for Maggie over Lisa).

The Salami Story: The investigation of Operation Genoa (the sail, not the salami) is ramping up. Mac and Brian Fantana Jerry Dantana met with a soldier that was allegedly part of the black-ops mission that involved chemical warfare. Jerry has the staff combing through Twitter to find a second source for the story. They’re using translated tweets from a random source? No wonder the crew gets in legal trouble over this coverage.

Random Thoughts on The Newsroom Season 2, Episode 2

This week I’m posting my observations on The Newsroom after three viewings instead of the 11 I had for episode one. Ha! It was a decent episode, but far from one of the show’s best. There’s still a lot of setup going on. Still, there were some nice moments and an excellent song closed out the show. Here are some random thoughts on  the second episode of The Newsroom.

Anchorman: One of the things I forgot to mention last week was the first episode of The Newsroom season 2 made me think of Anchorman. Will was goofing off a bit and had some Ron Burgundy moments. The substitute senior producer is named Jerry Dantana, which sounds similar to Brian Fantana. Coincidence?!? Probably. Okay, moving onto this week’s episode….

Sloan Becomes Olivia: In this episode the normally brilliant-but-socially-awkward Sloan Sabbith was more like the wretched actress that plays her (Lisa Olivia Munn) — conniving and manipulative. She clearly wants Don and is helping Don’s ex-girlfriend Maggie move on. Her ulterior motives are thinly veiled, but Maggie is too frazzled and self-absorbed to notice. I hope this storyline develops to reveal that beneath Sloan’s formidable intellect and goofy charm, she’s a terrible person inside.

The Passion of the Don: Mr. Keefer spends most of this episode trying to get more coverage for the Troy Davis case. He cares deeply about the situation and the man. It consumes him and he’s frustrated that he can’t do more to help clear a man that he believes is innocent. Last week we got Nice Guy Don, which I wasn’t sure about. This week we got Passionate Don, which is an improvement. Still, I’m anxious for the return of Sardonic Dick Don. That guy rules.

Maggie Gets Caught: Everyone’s favorite flustered pixie (not mine) was in damage control this week. Her life has been rearranged because of a YouTube video and she’s frantically trying to cover her lying ass. It all backfires and she’s called out (by her much hotter roommate and best friend Lisa) for being a liar. I loved how coldly Lisa tore her up. Lisa was completely right…and so sexy when she’s angry. Also, Maggie gets her assignment to cover a story in Uganda, paving the way for her to get messed up by Kamala or something.

Jim Mopes: Captain Whiny is still running away from his problems on the Romney bus. He’s developing a strange relationship with another embedded journalist, played by Grace Gummer. She alternates between goofing on him and showing concern. I couldn’t really tell because I was distracted by Gummer’s resemblance to her famous mother.

Slumdog Millionaire Goes to Jail: The adorably earnest Mr. Sampat gets mocked for pitching an Occupy Wall Street story when the first wave of protests ends up being a trickle. He lucks his way into some awesome footage of cops getting violent with the protesters, ends up in jail, and delivers a funny line about prison changing a man (he was locked up for roughly one hour).

Will’s Mini-Explosion: News Night’s main man didn’t carry this episode narratively, but displayed the heart of the show. On the outside he’s gruff and obnoxious, but if you keep chipping away at the numerous layers of Will McAvoy then you’ll find a sensitive man the cares deeply about American and wanting it to change. It all comes to a head when he goes to the police station to bail out Slumdog Millionaire. He explodes on a police officers, mostly for reasons that have nothing to do with the situation.

Please Don’t Stop the Music: I’ve always loved the show’s use of music. I loved that it used Radiohead’s “High and Dry” in an early episode of season 1 (episode 2?). This episode is capped by Willie Nelson’s “You Were Always on My Mind.” It worked so well for the multiple storylines — a great song that helped improved an otherwise okay episode of The Newsroom.