REVIEW: The Newsroom — Season 1 Episode 10 — “The Greater Fool”

Huzzah, it’s the last episode! FINALLY!! I’ll never have to watch another hour of this show EVER AGAIN! *fires confetti cannons* I’m gonna get ice cream and bake cookies I have no idea how to bake and run into the streets singing and hug strangers and, and —

Um, I mean. I’m going to sit here, watch, and critique this episode in a calm, professional manner.

*surreptitiously brushes off confetti*

Ahem.

 

 

—   Will is on the air talking about how all the news programs are DOING IT WRONG. Well, that’s a note this show has never struck before.

—   Flashback to 8 days earlier (non-linear storyline alert!): Will seems to be missing from his apartment. This is a problem because there is still a DEATH THREAT out there, and he didn’t take his bodyguard to wherever it is he went. Will, you’re a stupidhead.

—   Wait, no, there’s a trail of blood! Ooh! Please tell me he got shot and is unable to be on the show anymore — hang on, no, he’s on the show 8 days later plus there’s a second season coming out in July with Jeff Daniels on the posters. Scratch that idea for improving the show. Will, you’re still a stupidhead for not having your bodyguard around. How did this happen?

—   They find him in the bathroom, covered in fairly small amounts of blood. Mac shrieks, “Billy!” and it took me a second to realize she was referring to Will because she has never, ever called him that before.

—   Oh, boo, nobody shot him, it was just a bleeding ulcer.

—   Doctor’s asking about Will’s medical history and Mac is shocked to learn he’s on anti-depressants, even though if anyone on the planet needed some Prozac, it’s Will MacAvoy.

—   Apparently Will overdosed on anti-depressants because he was super depressed because Reporter-ex-Brian did a “hatchet job” with his article about the show. “Well, THAT was a shock,” said no one ever. Will, see bullet points 2 and 3 re: “stupidhead.” (Please don’t think I’m not mocking depression; depression is a serious thing and this show does it a disservice by having characters do blatantly stupid things that backfire on them and cause a sudden depressive downspin, just for the sake of season finale drama.)

—   Flash forward to Will anchoring the news again. Talking about Dorothy Cooper, who for once is a real person, not one made up by the show to make a point.

—   Will is basically saying exactly what that thinkprogress post said, how voter fraud is a miniscule speck of a problem and that forcing people to have photo IDs to vote will disenfranchise millions of people like Dorothy Cooper. (It still bugs me when the show acts like it’s doing something no one else is doing when plenty of news outlets at the time clearly covered the story just like this. YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL, NEWS NIGHT. GET OVER YOURSELF.)

—   Republican-bashing! Because that’s also something we’ve never seen on this show before!

—   Flashback to 7 days ago! Jim interrupts an important news meeting to ask about Sex and the City in order to know enough to impress Lisa. Jim, you’re being unprofessional and you’re not charming enough to get away with it.

—   And I find myself much more riveted by the croissants on the table than the conversation about Sex and the City tour buses. Again, the show CLEARLY doesn’t care about the news it purports to care so much about, because as soon as the conversation turns news-y again, the scene is cut.

—   Cut to Will in the hospital with Mac. Either they’ll get together by the end of this episode because it’s the season finale, or they don’t  because . . . I don’t even care.

—   Mac — sooooo surprisingly — has another hysterical fit. I think they must be contractually obligated, one per episode. Golly gee, I would never want to be her boyfriend.

—   HAHAHAHA Reporter-ex-Brian basically wrote what I’ve been writing on my blogs about the show’s sheer pretentiousness and delusions of significance. High five on the astral plane, Reporter-ex-Brian. But having one villainized character point this out does not count as self-awareness, Sorkin. Because I’m sure you’re not going to stop preaching, even if Will’s character has this momentary self doubt.

—   Although it is finally satisfying to hear someone say it and have Will admit, “He’s right!” Because he is.

—   Will says he’s not coming back. But this is not in the least suspenseful because we already saw the future where he does.

—   Hope Davis the gossip columnist is back. I thought we paid you to go away.

—   She has a tip that Will was high on the air back in episode 7, which of course he was. She says if she finds a second source, she has to go to press right away. Why? Because of journalistic ethics? Did she forget she doesn’t have any?

—   (I bet Will was her first source. Self-sabotage.)

—   And now the show is making a play for our sympathy, trying to get us to care about the plight of a gossip columnist. Nope, sorry, don’t care enough to feel bad for you.

—   Charlie is meeting with Secret Contact man to tell him he’s a sucky witness with a sucky reputation. Secret Contact does not take it well. Starts giving a Sorkin ramble that he can’t pull off because he’s not Martin Sheen.

—   Secret Contact promised incriminating info about the magazine where Hope Davis works, but doesn’t want to give it since they’re not letting him be a witness.

—   Flashback to 5 days ago! Sloan and Don, talking about the news in the most uninformative way, because they’re much more invested in the Will drama of the moment.

—   And evidently Maggie/Don drama too? I thought they broke up, but apparently he wants to ask her to move in with him. And now Sloan is giving a weird speech about how Don thinks he’s a bad guy so he tries to do good guy things. This would be a million times more interesting if we’d seen any meaningful storylines for his character that didn’t have to do with breaking up with Maggie. SHOW, DON’T TELL.

—   Oh, god, now we find out that Sloan’s had a crush on Don forever. Can we please have anyone on this show have really good solid interesting friendship that isn’t immediately all about romance? No? Never mind, then.

—   Most Insincere Enthusiasm About Don Moving In With Maggie Award goes to Jim.

—   Mac is being incredibly fake chipper and annoying at Will’s bedside.

—   And now Jim is spilling his relationship woes to Mac, which no one should ever do, because Mac is an irrational hysteric about relationships.

—   Jim has been going out with Lisa again for TWO MONTHS? Gah! Dude, grow a pair. I mean, she’s obviously the better girl, but you’re an idiot and you belong with Maggie because she’s also an idiot. Leave Lisa out of it.

—   Another Mac freakout! Never saw that coming!

—   Mac is trying to talk Will back to work, and breaks the news to him that word could get out that he was high and that could be the end of his career. He doesn’t seem fazed; I’m still betting he was the source.

—   Secret Contact man killed himself. I wish I cared, but I don’t. He just felt like a cheap, misplaced plot device, not a character.

—   Back to Will on the air. Uber-liberal Sorkin is once again using Will to tell Republicans what their party should be and why they suck at it. I just cannot take the show seriously when it’s this sanctimonious.

—   Flashback to 4 days ago! Neal is asking permission to continue “smoking out” the hacker who claimed to have left the death threat. Right, that happened.

—   Charlie got a letter from dead Secret Contact, but we don’t see what’s in it. Oooh, the suspense. Not. I’m sure it’s the incriminating evidence against the network and the magazine.

—   Will is watching the opening of the first Newsroom episode in the hospital — I mean, a viral youtube video that just happens to have been shot from the exact same angle as the show.

—   Charlie brings in the nurse to guilt Will into going back on the air, asking why her aunt, Dorothy Cooper (I see what you did there, show), isn’t being allowed to vote and why this isn’t on the news. So it’s up to Will to get it on the news — except in real life there was no Will or News Night and it made the news just fine without them. But hush, let’s not burst the show’s self-important bubble.

—   Ah, Will didn’t tell Hope Davis on purpose that he was high, but he accidentally left her a voicemail that was meant for Mac. Or Mac’s phone was hacked. Whatever. That’s even more uninteresting than my self-sabotage theory.

—   Dramatic Baba O’Reilly music as Will miraculously finds the motivation to go back on the air, naysayers be damned even though they’re right.

—   Montage of the whole newsroom gathering republican-bashing materials. You know, Sorkin, I want to see some democrat-bashing materials, because I’m sure they pull shenanigans too. But no, that’s not what this show’s for.

—   Lisa/Maggie confronting each other about Jim and Don. Oh dear god these storylines are tired. They were tired after one episode. And this is the tenth.

—   Of course the Sex and the City bus is there. And of course Jim is on it so that he can see her have a meltdown and confess to being in love with him to a whole bus full of strangers. That was THE most predictable thing I’ve ever seen.

—   And Jim’s chasing her and she’s hiding like a baby because all the people on this show are babies.

—   And she comes out and they kiss. Aww.

—   Argh, Jim says they can’t be together because of Lisa and Don. Let’s drag this out even more for no reason.

—   Will on the air to bring us more Tea Party bashing. Sigh.

—   Maggie’s preparing a breakup speech for Don and he’s asking her to move in with him. And just like that Maggie picks Don over Jim even though she CLEARLY WANTS JIM MORE.

—   Network people are confronting Will about him being high, Charlie pulls out the magic envelope from Secret Contact that shows that they hacked Mac’s phone and please can this storyline be over.

—   Oh, haha. Once they’ve got the network guy to admit to hacking and recorded it, it turns out the envelope had no evidence in it. Like I’ve never seen that trick before.

—   Sloan gives a defense of blind obnoxious idealism by saying that the country was made by “greater fools.” I see what you did there, Sorkin. It’s not convincing. Nobody who doesn’t already agree with this show’s politics is going to be swayed by it.

—   Mac is pestering Will to tell her what was in the message, even though it was obviously a love confession.

—   Yowch. Will just called the Tea Party the American Taliban. Because conflating things with terrorism and brutal oppression is always a sound argument.

—   Awkward Maggie/Jim talk where she tells him he’s a good guy and he says Don is too. Show, being “a good guy” is not enough for a relationship. Demonstrate to me WHY characters are compatible, aside from the fact that they like each other, because “a good guy who likes you” is NOT ENOUGH. It’s a start but nothing more.

—   Mac is harassing Will about the message, and he confesses that he thought he saw her that first day in the audience and she confesses it was her but she didn’t tell him because she’s a frigging moron. (No, actually she doesn’t say that. But it’s true.) And in this relationship, the characters have a clearly demonstrated compatibility but it’s because they’re both obnoxious idealists, which doesn’t make them likable and so doesn’t make the relationship compelling.

—   Neal’s plan to smoke out the death threatener led to 100 new death threats. Whatever.

—   Sorority girl is interviewing to intern on the show. I guessed that.

—   And they bring the show full circle by having Will say that wide-eyed, easily influenced idealists like sorority girl make America the greatest country in the world.

—   Hope Davis deletes the voicemail message and the show is over!!!!

 

Final Thoughts:

As you can see, I like this episode about as much as I’ve liked the rest of the show, which is to say, not a whole lot. Same issues as always — too much relationship drama involving weak/underdeveloped characters, not enough interesting angles on stories that haven’t already been done, the show beating the same dead horse over and over and over again, Mac being Mac, Will being Will . . . I will go into all of these things in more detail when I review the season as a whole.

As for the particulars of this episode, the death threat failing to pay off in any way was a disappointment. The network trying to fire Will was a retread of what had already been covered in several episodes and the villains didn’t take on any more depth over the course of it, so that was boring and seeing the good guys win wasn’t particularly satisfying because it was so obvious. Mac and Will and Maggie/Jim/Don/Lisa were the same mess of miscommunication and bad decisions as ever, so that was boring. The show being all meta and critiquing itself for its failings through Brian’s article was mildly interesting but not really because there were no lasting consequences and I knew from the start that there wouldn’t be any.

 

Rating: 2.5/5

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One thought on “REVIEW: The Newsroom — Season 1 Episode 10 — “The Greater Fool””

  1. Aw, I’m a little sad this is the last one and I won’t get to read you trash this show anymore, it made me LOL as usual. Once I watch the show and forget about the episode for a few days, these posts always remind of the inconsistencies heheh. Really good stuff as always!

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