The Newsroom — Season 1 Review

I started off my very first post by saying, “I have so many preconceived notions about this show I have never watched. LET ME SHOW THEM TO YOU.”

I then listed my preconceived notions, and now I’m going to go through that list and back each one up with evidence from the show, now that I’ve actually watched it.

“First, the good:

1)   It’s an Aaron Sorkin show. To me, this means super slick, rapid-fire dialogue that makes you feel smarter for having heard it, even if you only partially understood it. Sorkin shows know how to build drama, create moral dilemmas, and crack incredibly funny jokes. I loved Sorkin’s previous shows: Sports Night, The West Wing, and even Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which I don’t think anyone else liked even though Bradley Whitford has the most adorable dimples on the planet. I loved his movies: A Few Good Men, The Social Network, and Moneyball, although there was way too much silence in that movie to have been written by Sorkin alone (he co-wrote it).

Um, that was kind of my only thing on the list.”

This show did not live up to the previous standards set by other Sorkin works. I chalk this up mainly to the fact that in this show, he consistently shied away from actually discussing the issues he was claiming to be discussing. In The West Wing, at least from the few seasons I’ve seen, the show was not afraid to have an issue or political scenario hashed out in excruciating detail in long, in-depth scenes. It did not muddy the waters with relationship drama that completely overshadows the hardcore issues being addressed. And it was not afraid to have the characters be very smart and well-meaning but occasionally wrong at the same time. The Newsroom is afraid to depict any of the characters as being wrong; they are constantly self-justifying, and the show backs them up by having everything always work out just right. As I pointed out in my review of “Bullies,” the only moment on the show that lived up to that standard was the interview with Sutton Wall, where Will was being self-righteous and narrow-minded and had his head handed to him, like he deserved. And I can’t even give Sorkin credit for that because as I mentioned in that post, Sutton Wall is basically using the exact words of Robert Traynham.

“The bad:

1)   My brother’s a journalist and he hates this show, because it’s about a news team covering actual historic events, but the writer of the show has the benefit of hindsight, which any actual reporters at the time did not have. Which is obviously irksome to a journalist in a similar way that Grey’s Anatomy is irritating to doctors — it’s unrealistic and creates distorted perceptions of the profession. I personally enjoy Grey’s Anatomy most of the time, because I am not a doctor. I’m not a journalist either, so I’m pretty sure this won’t bother me the same way it bothers my brother.”

I’m still not a journalist, but I can absolutely see how this show is incredibly unfair to journalists, due to the hindsight factor. Yes, ideally, no one should have reported Gabrielle Giffords to be dead when she wasn’t, but telling us that and berating all the news networks that got it wrong is not very impressive when you’re making your show two years after the fact. We all know that the coverage of the Boston Bombing was abysmal, but it got sorted out eventually and there were a few news outlets that got it right the first time, just like with Gabrielle Giffords, so it’s really not the huge deal the show makes it out to be. (Except the Post identifying the wrong suspects. That could have ended badly, but fortunately it didn’t. Most shoddy coverage has no lasting effects, however. Hence not a big deal.) Also, the recapper at the Huffington Post points out that Will’s mission statement is hardly any different from other actual current cable newspeople. The show bothers me intensely with its inflated sense of its own importance and uniqueness.

2)   “Also because of hindsight, my brother tells me, the show gets preachy and sanctimonious, because of what the writer, Sorkin, thinks ought to have happened regarding these actual real-world events being depicted. I can handle a little preachiness (all Sorkin shows are a bit preachy and message-oriented), but too much gets on my nerves.”

Holy lord, was this show preachy. It’s like Sorkin doesn’t trust anyone to put any pieces together themselves; he has to spell it out for you. I cannot tell you how much I prefer the Daily Show’s strategy of pulling up a clip or a soundbyte and letting the viewer realize for him or herself why that politician or other newsmaker was being absurd or hypocritical or just stupid. A lot of people apparently liked Will’s whole spiel in the finale about the Tea Party being the American Taliban, but I felt like it was so over-the-top and condescending that I could not stop rolling my eyes at it.

3)   “Since The Social Network, Sorkin has kind of become a target for ridicule and criticism regarding his portrayals of female characters. In fact, the AfterElton recaps that I skimmed when the show was on the air sometimes had headlines like, “The 5 Worst Lady Blunders From Last Night’s ‘Newsroom,’” which contained lines like: “Aaron Sorkin‘s way of establishing [this female character’s] flaws are condescending and unbelievable.” I am not in the business of mind reading and I have no idea if Sorkin is an especially sexist man. I’d like to believe he isn’t. He has a daughter. Female characters on The West Wing like CJ Cregg and Ainsley Hayes were quite awesome. But is it possible for character portrayals to be sexist even if the writer himself is not sexist? I think yes, personally. If female characters are consistently more irritating/incompetent/shrill/underdeveloped/overly sexualized than the men, then that’s a sexist portrayal of women (I know, we have a lot of demands for our fictional representation; deal with it). This can be the case even if the writer doesn’t personally hate or disrespect women. I’ll probably be more sensitive to this while watching The Newsroom than I would be otherwise, since I know about this controversy.”

Well, the women in this show were pretty uniformly awful. But you know what? So were the men. It’s hard to call the show anti-women when it’s actually a lot worse than that — it’s anti-human. All the major characters suck, regardless of gender. They are all ruled by their love lives, they are all repeating the same patterns over and over, they are all maddeningly self-righteous, they are all often or at least occasionally professionally incompetent, and see my previous post for more detail on this. But yes, we never got to see a single woman come up with a great, innovative solution to a problem. Men are given professional supremacy throughout the show, even though Mac is supposedly in a position of authority and expertise.

4)   “I’ve heard that the villains in the show are often one-dimensional straw men, and Professor Dunphy’s comments in class reinforced that idea. I know that sometimes it’s very satisfying to root against a totally evil villain and watch him fall, but I really enjoyed the nuanced and often sympathetic opposition portrayed in The West Wing and thought it made the show feel more honest and rich.”

Simply put, the show needed more Sutton Walls. The Tea Party is the easiest target anywhere, and watching it being blasted week after week was not at all dramatically satisfying. I wanted more of the other side, and I understand that in the case of the Tea Party, there may not be another side, but then I want to know the reasoning of the people who are voting for them. An episode about THAT would have been interesting. As would an episode with a different target. What made The West Wing so great was that the issues changed every week and the opposition changed and nothing ever felt like a retread of what had already been done; each episode found something new and fascinating to explore. The opposition almost always had viewpoints worth hearing that would make you look at things just a little differently. I sometimes find it hard to believe that this show gets wrong everything that The West Wing got right.

I have one last major criticism that I only developed after watching the show for a while, and I summed it up in my Episode 8 review like this:

“And then there’s the show’s blatant hypocrisy and double standards about what is worth watching — evidently it’s okay for the SHOW to be melodramatic and focused on petty relationship struggles, because that’s “entertainment,” but the news is obviously different because the news shouldn’t be entertainment. What the show fails to grasp is that it’s undermining its own message by using the same emotionally manipulative techniques that it accuses the news of using. It’s saying higher standards are important, and then proceeds to scrape the bottom of the barrel with tawdry relationship drama, as if it doesn’t trust the viewers to keep watching unless it pulls all those lowbrow tricks out of its bag. Result is that I feel cheated and condescended to, and wish the show would just be more intelligent and more interesting without trying to play to the lowest common denominator.”

The hypocrisy also includes the fact that the show claims to condemn fear-mongering, yet it simultaneously calls the Tea Party things like “the American Taliban” and manufactures a secret source from inside the NSA to warn us about the government’s invasive and violating practices of wiretapping and interception of private communications and how this will spell the end of the civilization as we know it. Textbook fear-mongering. You can’t have it both ways.

I think these are all fundamental issues with the show, and the reasons I will not be watching next season.

Final Rating for the season: 2.5/5

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The Newsroom — Character Evaluation Post

I’ve been dreading this assignment all semester long, because apparently I’m supposed to write 500 words on one single character from The Newsroom, when one of my major gripes about the show is that I don’t like the characters and that they don’t change in significant ways and just repeat themselves over and over again to the point where they are utterly predictable. You know, that whole definition of insanity being doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? That’s basically every character. Until maybe the season finale when a couple of them tried something different just because someone must have sent them a memo that it was the season finale and they should stop pulling the same old crap.

 

I can just picture it:

 

Network executive: “Y’know what we were thinking would be great? If you could have these characters behave in a way we haven’t seen before. Like, have an arc. Make progress.”

Aaron Sorkin: “Like what?”

Exec: “Well, you could have Maggie stop being an annoying wide-eyed idiot who’s in denial about her feelings for Jim and have her break up with Don for good this time?”

Sorkin: “Hmmm. I see what you’re saying. Maybe the denial part could change a bit. But we can’t have her break up with Don. She’s far too insecure to leave a man, and besides, we need to have that in place for next season or I might have to come up with an entirely new storyline for her.”

Exec: “Ah. Flawless reasoning. Well, maybe then you could have Jim stop being such a sad sack and actually try to move on with his life?”

Sorkin: “No, don’t you understand? Sad sackiness is Jim’s entire appeal. He has like nothing else going for him. Ladies love sad sacks. Take that away and he’ll be just another boring dude.”

Exec: “Well, I’m sure you know what the ladies like; far be it from us to question that. So never mind Jim and Maggie. How about Mac? Do you think maybe you could have her work on getting her meltdowns under control?”

Sorkin: “But that’s what makes her relatable to the viewers. No one can empathize with a coolly professional, endlessly competent woman — it’s all her constant screw-ups that earn sympathy, and her hysterics are adorable.”

Exec: “But do you really think it’s realistic that a person so prone to hysterics in stressful situations would have been able to earn two Peabody awards for work in Afghanistan?”

Sorkin: “Hmm, what did you say? Sorry, I was counting my money.”

Exec: “Maybe her hysterics are a manifestation of PTSD. That could be explored, right? In therapy? You like putting characters in therapy, right? Will MacAvoy in this show, Josh Lyman on The West Wing. . .”

Sorkin: “I suppose. Maybe next season. But Mac in therapy would take time away from Will’s therapy screen-time, and Will’s the main character so we can’t have that.”

Exec: “But it would be a great excuse to have more David Krumholtz on the show!”

Sorkin: “Can’t argue with that. Ladies love David Krumholtz.”

 

 

Basically, the only character that seemed to have a substantial arc was Will. Two basic arcs, personal and professional.

Professionally, he started off in the first two minutes of the show being blandly inoffensive, then exploded and we saw his true opinions on the state of American journalism, then was convinced by Mac to become a crusader for the Greater Good of News. This held true for the entire season, where every episode was essentially more of the same of this idea of Better News, whether that meant bashing the Tea Party or insulting people for watching trashy reality TV, until the season finale, where Will was forced to doubt the effectiveness of his actions for this cause. That lasted about half the episode before he returned with renewed conviction. The finale also contrives to show him that he is having his desired effect by bringing back a character from the beginning of the show who has now been inspired and fundamentally changed because of Will’s proselytizing. So this arc was designed to test Will’s beliefs and reaffirm them. Kind of like high school was for me, not a transformative experience but more of a, “Yup, I was right all along. Glad I never have to go through THAT again.”

Personally, he started off insisting that whatever he and Mac had in the past was completely and utterly over and that he hates her to the point of taking a pay cut in order to ensure that he can fire her any time he wants, although it is obvious to the viewers that he will never fire her and that he has unresolved feelings for her that he sucks at dealing with because he’s a repressed, arrogant jerk who will never admit to weakness, and forgiveness is weakness. Will thrives on self-righteous anger. I am of the opinion that if no one in the world ever did anything wrong or stupid again, Will would implode for sheer lack of anyone to lambaste and feel superior to. I can’t say I don’t understand that — life is easier when you feel like you have a better handle on the world than the people around you — but it’s not pleasant or entertaining to watch, at least not in the way it’s been portrayed here.

Will makes incremental progress on his relationship with Mac throughout the season, progress that is so incremental that it often seems completely frustratingly absent. It’s clearest when Will confronts his psychiatrist, David Krumholtz, toward the end of the season and demands, “Why can’t I forgive her?” At that point, he had heard enough apologies and been around Mac long enough to know that he still has feelings for her and she still has feelings for him and that they might still be able to have a relationship, and part of him wants to forgive her, but he can’t. And by the end of the season, it’s unclear if he has still not forgiven her or if he is simply too proud to tell her.

So sad, y’all. And yet I completely lack sympathy for Will. I’ve talked about this with my brother and we can’t figure out if it’s the writing or the acting — is the character just so fundamentally obnoxious that no matter what Jeff Daniels does as an actor, he can’t make him sympathetic? Or is Daniels’ completely warmth-less performance partially to blame? Or maybe it’s because I just can’t stand Mac and can’t root for anyone to be with her.

 

The crux of the matter remains this: as with the rest of the show, the characterization contains a lot of interesting ideas. Sorkin is an incredibly talented, smart, articulate, witty guy — let that be stated for the record. But in this show, his ideas, in plot and character, never cohere into a satisfying and entertaining whole. As Alan Sepinwall of HitFix.com puts it: “I understand wanting to believe in the message here. I just wish I didn’t dislike so many of the messengers.”

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

REVIEW: The Newsroom — Season 1 Episode 9 — “The Blackout, Part 2: Mock Debate”

At last, the eagerly anticipated conclusion to last week’s episode! (And by “eagerly anticipated,” I mean not. At all.) Let’s see if our intrepid crew will continue to be forced to report the news in ways they don’t like, and if I will magically start to care…

 

—   Quick recap: A) Will’s hired Mac’s ex to write a story about the show. B) the network is pressuring the show to report more tragedy porn, and they’re going along with it because they want to be able to do a mock debate later and they need to be in good standing with the network or they might not get the chance. C) Charlie has a Secret Contact at the NSA who says the world is ending because the government has too much power. D) Anthony Wiener scandal is in full swing (no pun intended). E) Before they had a chance to tape a tragedy porn show, the power went out, hence “blackout.”

—   Power is still out.

—   Mac is being sappy and speechy about how this was GOD’S PLAN because he doesn’t want them to report on Casey Anthony and Anthony Wiener, and getting all crazed and excited about making the show with a desk and a couple of microphones and BEING A TEAM AGAIN, and then the power goes back on. Boo hoo.

—   Jim says to the crew during taping, “hey, you don’t have to watch this,” but obviously everybody WANTS to watch it. It’s like what they say about gossip: it’s something nobody claims to like, but everybody enjoys.

—   Sloan is still upset about the tabloid stories taking time away from her reporting on the biggest economic crisis of her lifetime, even though I still don’t have a handle on what that is, and since it already happened and the world seems to still be functioning, I don’t really care.

—   Neal still wants to do that story on internet trolls, because that’s somehow more newsworthy than tragedy porn, and asks Sloan’s permission to slander her online in order to build his troll credibility. She says yes, because she thinks it’s a good story too, wonder of wonders.

—    Convo between Mac and Brian-the-reporter-ex about Will being lonely. Don’t care. If he is, he deserves it because he did it to himself.

—   Will has flowers in his office, Mac pays them entirely too much attention. Yawn.

—   Mock debate practice. I’m failing to see why anyone other than SNL would think this is a good idea.

—   Jim’s ex-girlfriend and Maggie’s roommate Lisa, a fictional character, was magically Casey Anthony’s classmate in high school. I’m sure her insights would be super informative, seeing as she’s FICTIONAL. This is totes realistic. Ugh, I wish the show would just make up everything instead of shoe-horning fictional people into real world situations. That’s why The West Wing worked better.

—   Maggie and Jim are harassing Lisa at her workplace. Classy. Jim pulls the “we have no choice this is super important” card and Lisa finally gives in.

—   Jim awkwardly tries to ask Lisa out again. Stop it, Jim. She’s way too good for you.

—   Don dates around when he and Maggie break up, but doesn’t tell any of the women about the existence of the other. Don, I hate guys like you. Go away.

—   Cut to Will in his therapist’s office. Yay David Krumholtz! I don’t care about Will or his issues with betrayal but YAY DAVID KRUMHOLTZ.

—   Yes, Will, you are right, blaming the cheat-ee instead of the cheater is not the right way to go. But the show is making it sound like it is. Stupid show.

—   Will can’t understand why he can’t seem to forgive Mac for cheating on him. Therapist Krumholtz says it was because it was betrayal, and Will is super sensitive to betrayal.

—   Neal tells Sloan all the various ways he slandered her while trolling economics threads, and she’s glad someone is working on new stories. THIS IS NOT NEWS, SLOAN. Maybe it is to Sorkin because he’s kind of new at the internet thing, but this is tiny and unimportant and silly.

—   Jim’s research on Secret Contact Dude turns up sordid stuff about the guy, hurting his credibility.

—   Maggie and Mac agree that it doesn’t matter what Lisa says on the air as long as she actually shows up, so they’re gonna ask really lame questions.

—   SO PROUD of Lisa for continuing to reject Jim. Guy did not want you, he doesn’t deserve you, keep him in his place. You rock, girl.

—   Uh oh, Lisa’s on the air speaking out for the reasonableness of abortion in cases when the mother doesn’t want the child and can’t raise it. Apparently people are super sensitive about this and everyone is covering their faces in horror.

—   Someone threw a brick through her shop window. Would that really happen in New York? Down south, sure. But we’re pretty liberal here, right? I’m not gonna question it. Could totally happen in some neighborhoods, I suppose.

—   Showcase of the Mock Debate format. Seems all right, although I’d think a real debate with the actual candidates would be more accurate.

—   The boss guy doesn’t seem happy with it, though…

—   He thinks the format is just embarrassing to the candidates and refuses to allow it. All that tragedy porn coverage for nothing.

—   Oooh, now he says he wants the old Will MacAvoy, not the guy Mac turned him into. That’s gonna push some buttons.

—   Will apologizes to everyone for losing the debate.

—   Mac defends Will to Brian-the-reporter-ex by saying he’s better than Brian because he’s never sure about anything, he STRUGGLES with things, and then slapstick humor Will-can’t-put-on-pants joke comes to back her up. But no, Mac, Will is just as obnoxiously self-assured and self-righteous as Brian is. Maybe he has a few things he doubts, but I would never say he’s not sure about ANYTHING.

—   Mac is turning into a hysteric. Again. Ugh.

—   They’re finally doing the show how they want — ignoring the big attention-grabbing stories and leading with Sloan and the Debt Ceiling. Wonder if we’ll actually get to see her explain it.

—   Neal hasn’t gotten troll credibility. Sloan jokingly says, “too bad you’re not the guy who left the death threat for Will,” and now we know what Neal’s next move is gonna be.

—   Mac looks out at everyone and sees they’re all happy and getting along. This is making her sad for some reason?

—   And now she’s giving Jim horrible advice about refusing to move on and instead going after people who’ve rejected him.

—   Jim shows up at Lisa and Maggie’s apartment. I think we’re supposed to think he’s going to ask Lisa again, but I bet he asks Maggie, right there in front of Don.

—   And Lisa answers the door and Jim clearly wants to talk to Maggie, but Lisa — NO NO STOP IT LISA YOU WERE RIGHT ALL ALONG DON’T GIVE IN NOW — thinks he’s there for her and has decided to say yes, and kisses him and leads him out even though GAH he obviously doesn’t want that anymore.

—   Don is the only one with half a brain in this scene who realizes Jim wanted Maggie. And now he’s going to come clean about the other women and hopefully they’ll break up for good.

—   Neal is pretending to be the hacker who posted Will’s death threat, and one of the other trolls says it wasn’t Neal because it was HIM. Saw that coming a mile away.

—   And Will is on relationship advice websites reading about trust while melancholy music plays.

 

 

Final Thoughts:

 

I have very little to say about this episode that isn’t in the above live-blog. The episode just doesn’t come together as a unit. Sure, there’s a linear storyline involving the compromising of values in order to get the debate, and ultimately not getting the debate, and going back to reporting the news the way they want to. And there are little B plots and C plots about trolls and the Secret Contact.

But then there’s all the non-plot stuff, the relationship drama, which could really be happening in any episode, regardless of the plot, because there is nothing particularly plot-related about the development of these love triangles. And there is no unifying theme between any of the disparate events of the story. It just feels like a bunch of random stuff that happens to be happening to these same people. Say what you may about cheesy Grey’s Anatomy voiceovers — at least they manage to pull everything together and make you feel like you watched a well-constructed whole instead of just a mess.

And of course, having another Mackenzie freakout does nothing to help the cause. And nope, we didn’t get to see Sloan explain about the debt ceiling. Why am I not surprised.

 

Rating: 2.5/5

REVIEW: The Newsroom — Season 1 Episode 8 — “The Blackout, Part 1: Tragedy Porn”

Blaaaaaaaaaaaargh. Hello, internet. Forgive my sluggishness this morning. I iz tired.

*yawwwwwn*

 

 

—   Looks like they’re going to pick up on the “the network hates Will and wants to make up a reason to fire him even though he’s getting all the ratings.” Huzzah.

—   An intriguing episode title. Too bad I have no confidence that the show’s cynicism will tell me anything my own cynicism doesn’t already.

—    Will is doing a print interview with a reporter named Brian, so that his self-righteousness preaching can have yet another outlet. This will not upset the network. Nope. Not one bit.

—   It has become genuinely difficult for me to pay any attention to words coming out of Will’s mouth, because he is so unbearable smug and obnoxious about everything. In real life, I would just want to walk out of the room, but I can’t, because I have to watch the frigging show.

—   They’re talking about Will being a Republican, which is just so ludicrous because Sorkin gives him the most preposterously liberal positions on everything, and then labels him a “sane Republican” as if that will make it easier for people to swallow. Maybe if a Republican/Conservative was writing the show. But this way? Nope.

—   The network is chewing out Will, Charlie, and Mackenzie for not covering the Casey Anthony trial. I vaguely remember hearing about that. Not the kind of story I pay attention to, because yes, it is *ding ding ding* Tragedy Porn. Yay, I figured out the title! Two points for me.

—   Of course they need to report the Casey Anthony trial. It’s what most people want to hear about. If you don’t report it, viewers are going to change the channel, or worse, lose faith in the show’s credibility because it doesn’t seem to be paying attention to the biggest story in the country.

—   The reporter is snooping around the office, and he’s not very subtle about it.

—   They’re making fun of Michele Bachmann. Again, one of those people that no one cares about but the show feels a need to eviscerate anyway.

—   The reporter is the guy Mac cheated on Will with. Oh god the drama. I really could have done without that. I find it ironic that Sorkin is so against tragedy porn in the news but has no problem with it on his show.

—   Now they have to report the Anthony Weiner scandal. Yay, more tabloid worthy news!

—   Will says they have to report the Weiner story because in order to bash the Tea Party, they have to seem balanced. HAHAHAHAHA balance. If ANYONE is under the illusion that this show is balanced, they need to just go away.

—   Maggie is mocking Michele Bachmann for being a loony. This would be more compelling if she weren’t so whiny about it.

—   They’ve brought in Don to consult on how to report Casey Anthony. Or to give him something to do.

—   Charlie’s going to meet with his ~sekrit contact~ and it’s awkwardpants.

—   Secret contact tells Charlie about something called Global Clarity, an illegal eavesdropping system, which as far as I can tell, is not a real thing, because all internet search results for it are Newsroom related.

—   For a show that purports to hate fear-mongering, that was the most fear-mongering scene I’ve ever seen on TV. “They’re gonna listen in on all your communications and it will be the end of the world as we know it!!!!!”

—   Don explains the obvious, how the coverage of Casey Anthony is emotionally and not factually based.

—   They suspect that Secret Contact Dude may have just been setting Will up for a fall, so they assign Jim to investigate him to make sure. I wish I could say, “Now, Secret Investigator Jim, that’s a show I’d watch” but I really wouldn’t, because Jim is so bland and boring.

—   Mac is venting to Reporter-Ex-Brian that she’s living 30 feet from the life she could have had if she hadn’t been so stupid. Well, Mac, forgive me for not feeling so bad for you about that, because I cannot relate at all to someone who wants to end up with Will. I think you dodged a bullet, woman.

—   Neal wants to report about internet trolling, and Mac is all for it, despite this being the LEAST NEWSWORTHY STORY of the episode.

—   Will is going back to his shrink! Yay, we get to see more David Krumholtz! And he points out Will’s self-destructive behavior. Too bad Will is just going to continue being a jerk.

—   Some bimbo showed up to get her fifteen minutes of fame by ratting out Anthony Weiner with tweets he sent her, “because the world needs to know what kind of guy he is.” Lovely.

—   Charlie confronts Leona in a pointless scene that just repeats everything we already know about the network wanting to fire Will.

—   Sloan is still ranting about the debt ceiling, but the show has still never explained WHY she’s ranting and WHY it’s such a disaster and WHY it would cause a global economic meltdown. The way it’s portrayed, this is just drama for the sake of drama. More fear-mongering, etc. Ugh.

—   Mac is agonizing over having the bimbo interviewed for the show, and asks for a sign that she’s okay, and the lights go out. And there’s the explanation for the first part of the episode title.

 

END OF PART 1!

 

 

Final Thoughts:

This episode was really dull for me. It retread a lot of previously done territory about Will’s position with the network and the show’s idealism vs. the reality of the TV news business. I am so sick of hearing about it, and seeing them being forced to compromise their ideals is nothing new; they’ve been compromising since the very beginning when they screwed up that very first show with the interview that went terribly wrong and had to rely on Will basically spoonfeeding his opinions to the viewers even though the show had outright professed to NOT want to do that. So forgive me if I am unmoved by the situation in this episode. It’s just the same stuff all over again, on a bigger scale, and it’s not even good stuff.

And then there’s the show’s blatant hypocrisy and double standards about what is worth watching — evidently it’s okay for the SHOW to be melodramatic and focused on petty relationship struggles, because that’s “entertainment,” but the news is obviously different because the news shouldn’t be entertainment. What the show fails to grasp is that it’s undermining its own message by using the same emotionally manipulative techniques that it accuses the news of using. It’s saying higher standards are important, and then proceeds to scrape the bottom of the barrel with tawdry relationship drama, as if it doesn’t trust the viewers to keep watching unless it pulls all those lowbrow tricks out of its bag. Result is that I feel cheated and condescended to, and wish the show would just be more intelligent and more interesting without trying to play to the lowest common denominator.

 

Rating: 2.5/5

REVIEW: The Newsroom — Season 1 Episode 7 — “5/1”

So I took a little break from recapping for Passover and instead spent my days eating, sleeping, reading, and talking to friends and family while having no access to technology that runs on electricity. Yes, this includes internet and TV. Welcome to a life of being an observant Jew.

But I am back, y’all!

 

 

—   From the “Previously on” it looks like they’re continuing the death threat/bodyguard for Will storyline. Huzzah, continuity!

—   Some weirdo is “establishing his credibility as a source” on the phone to Charlie. Presumably he’s a source within the White House, but we shall see.

—   Will’s throwing a party in his apartment. But he is a misanthrope and why is he throwing this party exactly? Even he doesn’t know.

—   It’s the one-year anniversary of News Night, apparently. Time is weird on this show.

—   Will and Jim both play guitar, evidently. Because chicks dig guitar players.

—   Will is going to eat pot cookies. Scandalous. I predict slapstick will ensue.

—   Yup, he already ate way too many. Let’s watch him make a bigger fool of himself than usual, shall we?

—   Shocker, Maggie is spending time at the party with Jim instead of Don.

—   Lisa is already using the L-word to Jim when it’s obvious he doesn’t actually care about her? GAH SHOW. GAH.

—   The “I love you” is a recent thing, I see. Jim clearly doesn’t know how to say “I like/care about you, but I need more time to develop those kinds of feelings for someone” or “THE SHOW WANTS ME TO BE WITH MAGGIE, I HAVE NO CHOICE IN THIS MATTER!”

—   Maggie, he doesn’t have to break up with her just because the feelings are unequal. What they need to do is get on the same page about what each of them feels, and then decide if they want to break up. There is no blanket solution, Maggie. Go away.

—   The president is going to address the nation. I’ll go google what he talked about on May 1st 2011 . . . Oh, I see, it was Osama Bin Laden’s death. I remember everyone going crazy about it, but I always saw it as a symbolic victory rather than an actual substantial one. Is that ignorant or unpatriotic of me?

—   Will is totally stoned and should not be allowed out in public but of course he’s going out to work. THIS WILL END WELL.

—   Sloan, Don, and Elliot are trapped on a plane with no information about what this big news story is and Don is dying to find out what’s going on. A three minute scene and Sloan manages to be objectified at least three times. Woo.

—   Stoned Will and his bodyguard are stuck in traffic and Will is impatient. This is a recipe for disaster. And there he goes! Will has run away on foot.

—   Police are giving his bodyguard a rough time, presumably because he’s black.

—   In the newsroom, Mac is instructing everyone to pursue all leads other than Bin Laden, in case he’s not the story, which is very non-dramatic since I already know the story IS Bin Laden. I suppose this is meant to be dramatic irony, where viewers know something the characters don’t, but yawn.

—   Mac’s justification for trying to find the story before the president announces it: “America thinks Bin Laden is alive. If I can make him dead one minute sooner, my entire life in journalism will have been worth it.” Really, Mac? Really? You’ve had no other, much more useful accomplishments in your two-Peabody-award-winning career? Maybe I just really don’t get why this story was so huge. Or I just don’t get journalists.

—   Don is being a whiney baby. In other news, it seems to be really really difficult to get yourself thrown off a plane.

—   Will made it to the newsroom. Still totally stoned. And he’s stressing how important this night is. Again, the more they say it, the less it feels like such a big deal.

—   And the show cannot pass up an opportunity to mock FOX News for reporting that the story was Gaddafi, not Bin Laden.

—   Mac is going to let Will go on the air even though she knows he’s totally wasted. Drama drama drama.

—   Now Charlie is saying not to report it, even though they’ve got double-confirmation that it’s Bin Laden. He says there could theoretically be harmful effects on the military operation if it’s revealed too early. He has a point, but COULDN’T YOU HAVE SAID THAT SOONER??

—   Neal’s girlfriend doesn’t feel like celebrating because Bin Laden being dead doesn’t bring her dad back. Yes, Neal’s girlfriend, I totally agree with you. Symbolic victory, not substantial.

—   The minor news anchor is getting antsy and tried to report the story, so Mac cut her feed. Why don’t they just give her Charlie’s spiel about not wanting to endanger soldiers’ lives? She just doesn’t have that perspective, so TELL HER.

—   Maggie is still hassling Jim to break up with Lisa. Give it a rest, Maggie!

—   YES! YOU GO, LISA! She’s breaking up with Jim! HOORAY FOR SELF AWARENESS, DIGNITY, AND SELF-RESPECT! I feel ten times more celebratory about this than about the Bin Laden thing, because for once a woman got to make her own choices on this show instead of having her life dictated by the men around her. Too bad Lisa was completely underdeveloped as a character and we’ll probably never see her again.

—   She did it for MAGGIE?? UGH! No, Lisa, you do these things for yourself! Maggie’s a mess and you’re not responsible for her screwing up her relationships. This almost completely decimates the good opinion I had about Lisa in the previous bullet point. I feel very fickle right now. See what you’ve done to me, Sorkin? You’ve turned me into a fickle woman, just like the terrible female characters on this show.

—   Don’s still going nuts on the plane because he can’t be in the newsroom. Everyone’s started to get messages about the president speaking and no one knows what’s up, and Don tries to calm them down, but the prissy flight attendant won’t let him and gets the pilot.

—   Don has some kind of visceral reaction to the pilot’s uniform for some reason. Department of Backstory, where are you? Oh, I guess it was just because of the military connection to the Bin Laden story? Okay. Don reveals super dramatically that Osama Bin Laden has been killed, and everyone hugs. Yay.

—   Jim grows a pair and is honest to Lisa for once and asks her out for real. Too bad this is doomed because Maggie and Jim are preordained.

—   Bodyguard finally catches up with Will, escorted by police. They are informed about Bin Laden in what is supposed to be another heartwarming moment.

—   Will is a friend of Joe Biden and got an email that the Bin Laden story is reportable, but he didn’t see it for 20 minutes because he’s stoned. Ha ha, so funny.

—   And a dramatic sappy speech by Will on the air to explain why this is such a huge victory.

—   Obama’s real speech is playing over the credits.

 

 

Final Thoughts:

This episode makes me feel like I have a heart of stone, because most of it depends on viewers having a strong emotional response to the fact that Bin Laden was killed. The whole episode revolves around how important that event is and how much it means to everyone who hears it. I remember when it happened, and I didn’t have much of an emotional response then, and I still don’t now.

I probably would if I had relatives in the military, or had lost someone on 9/11, but as a New Yorker who witnessed the 9/11 attacks but did not have a personal connection to them, I didn’t have a driving need to see Bin Laden dead. I mean, I didn’t want him alive and perpetuating more acts of terror, but I never equated his death with the end of terrorism or personal revenge, so it had significantly less of an emotional impact for me.

For once I had stronger reactions to the relationship drama of the episode, as documented above. Not good reactions, per se, but stronger. My basic complaint in that regard remains the same – the characters are frequently immature and unlikeable in regard to how they handle their romantic entanglements, which makes me not care about them, and the show is ham-fisted in its obviousness about who is supposed to end up with who, which makes me not care about all the intervening stuff because it’s clearly just stalling.

 

Rating: 3/5

REVIEW: The Newsroom — Season 1 Episode 6 — “Bullies”

So this review might wind up shorter than the average, since I’m supposed to be cleaning for Passover but instead I’m watching a TV show I don’t even like, because it’s homework. Oh well. Hopefully my mom won’t yell at me too much.

 

—   Will just forgot his own name on the air. I’m only laughing because it’s about time His Pompousness got taken down a peg.

—   Will is in therapy. Good for him. All the characters in this show need to be in therapy, but at least it’s a start.

—   He’s been paying for appointments every Wednesday for four years even though he never shows up. Well, that’s just lovely for all of us poor folk to hear.

—   Turns out his therapist died a couple years ago, and his son took over, and Will didn’t have a clue. Awkwardddd.

—   Yay for therapist calling Will on his crap. About time someone did.

—   Wait, there was a death threat? When did that happen? And what took so long? (I only partially mean “What took so long for someone to want to kill Will” — I also mean, why did they wait until 8 minutes into the episode to reveal it? Suspense? It doesn’t feel like a big reveal; it just feels like I missed an episode or something.)

—   Now flashback to explain, because everyone knows a non-linear storyline is always better than a linear one. ALWAYS.

—   Will wants commenters on the website to de-anon. Dude, have you HEARD of the internet? It doesn’t WORK like that.

—   Oh, great, more old news. This time about the community center that was being built in lower Manhattan, more commonly referred to as the “Ground Zero Mosque” even though it wasn’t actually a mosque and wasn’t actually at Ground Zero. Look, I get that this was a big deal way back when. But nobody cares about it now. The most recent article I found (December 9th 2012) says that the place is struggling with funding and may be converted to condominiums.

—   Okay, that was kind of satisfying, smacking down that lady’s arguments about “creeping Islam” and calling her out on her hypocrisy by pointing out all the garbage people have done in the name of Christianity.

—   And there’s the death threat. They know his address. That’s always creepy.

—   Other storyline: coverage of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown. Sloan speaks Japanese. Of course she does — since we know nothing about her, they can keep giving her a bajillion superpowers and we’ll just swallow it.

—   More displays of Maggie’s professional incompetence. Since it’s been a couple of episodes since we’ve had some of those.

—   Don forgot to get someone to replace his anchor on his show, and now is recruiting Sloan at the last minute. Equal opportunity incompetence! Huzzah!

—   Sloan gets her chance to be deeply unprofessional, asking Will’s new bodyguard if she can touch his pecs.

—   Will just called her an accomplice to drug dealing, because she doesn’t throttle her guests until they give her answers on the air. Is it her job to get people to incriminate themselves and possibly lose their jobs?

—   At least he recognizes in hindsight that that was a stupid thing to say.

—   Oh, no. Sloan’s interrogating the Japanese spokesperson herself, ignoring the translator, and now she’s revealing what he told her off the record, how the radiation levels are higher than they’re admitting.

—   Charlie’s right — Sloan’s gonna have a heck of a time ever getting anyone to talk to her off the record again.

—   Poor Sloan; she looks like me when I’m trying not to cry. But yo, basic rules of journalism . . . off the record = OFF THE RECORD.

—   Don lifts her chin up, instead of saying “chin up.” Are they gonna become a thing, now? Finally break up Don and Maggie for good? Please god yes. I don’t actually care about either couple, but something new would be better.

—   Will has daddy issues and a tragic backstory! Why am I not surprised? That’s just such a cheap way to gain sympathy. Sorry, Sorkin; it’s blatantly manipulative.

—   The therapist IS David Krumholtz! Pretty pretty Jew boy. Love the curls. (That’s been bugging me the whole episode; I’ve never seen him in a serious role so I wasn’t sure it was him.) Wonder if he’s also supposed to be cleaning for Passover right now 😛

—   Don sees Jim and Maggie laughing. Jealous Don Alert!

—   And Mackenzie just discovered that Will almost took a job in LA, which she thinks means he was going to ditch her, so she’s yelling at him. I bet he was going to propose, and I bet he’s still got the ring to prove it.

—   Yup, there it is. Naturally he keeps it in the office instead of at home, because that would make SENSE.

—   Oh, he was lying about the ring. He just got it to screw with Mac. Figures.

—   The spokesperson who talked to Sloan off the record just lost his job. Could have seen that coming.

—   Sloan rejects Mac’s offer to help. Which is smart, because I don’t think we’ve ever actually seen Mac solve a single problem.

—   This interview with Sutton Wall is the most compelling scene in the entire series so far, because for once, the people who disagree with Will aren’t being portrayed as evil or stupid — Wall (a fictional black, gay, former deputy chief of staff to the widely renowned homophobic senator Rick Santorum, inspired by the real-life Robert Traynham) gets to stand up for himself and make a nuanced, passionate argument that is contrary to Will’s. This is a lot more like West Wing Sorkin than Newsroom Sorkin.

—   Will acknowledges that he bullied Wall. And this is obviously what’s causing him to lose sleep.

—   Don asks Sloan of all people if Maggie’s interested in Jim?? Sloan and Maggie barely interact! Also, that’s a continuity fail, because I’m pretty sure most of Don’s actions in the series so far have been motivated by the fact that he already figured out that Maggie’s interested in Jim.

—   They can fix the whole Sloan mess if she goes on the air and lies about what happened. Moral of the story: It’s never okay to lie to the public, except when it is.

—   Ha, the insomnia was actually caused by the bacon sandwiches Will eats before bed. Therapist tricked him into opening up. Not sure that’s legal, but this is TV therapy.

 

 

Final Thoughts:

The gimmicky flashback nature of the episode was weird at first, but I got used to it, though I think maybe it should have started with Will in the therapist’s office or waiting room, so that it would be obvious we were entering in the middle of the story and that when the death threat was revealed, it wouldn’t seem so jarring and make me feel like I should rewind and see if I’d missed something.

The jokes in this show by and large still fail to make me laugh. But I enjoyed David Krumholtz as the therapist, and I’m glad to see that IMDB shows that he’ll be in more episodes.

Overall, this episode was very focused on Will and is essentially a character study about what he likes, dislikes, and what gets under his skin and why. I suppose it’s not bad as far as character studies go, but I’m sure I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more if I actually liked Will to start with and so this wouldn’t feel like a last-ditch attempt to get me to like him. (He’s tortured! He’s conflicted! Love him!) I can’t think of a single character on the show that I like enough to hear all about their psychological demons. None of them interest me enough.

 

Rating: 3/5