The Newsroom: "It's a Metaphor, Stupid"

The Newsroom S01E03: "The 112th Congress"

If I have one issue with The Newsroom thus far, and I mean apart from the wild tonal shifts, painfully clumsy attempts at sitcom-level humor, and inability to—okay, so I have several problems with The Newsroom thus far. But the one I haven't said much about yet is Aaron Sorkin's gift for turning anything and everything into a blinding metaphor. Sorkin is not subtle about, well, anything really. He's a guy who delivers his message as loudly and clearly as possible. To a degree, that can be a welcome trait in a writer, but in Sorkin's case the notion even extends to his attempts at something resembling subtlety. When he embeds a metaphorical scenario in his writing, he spells it out for you with such intense clarity that he's practically screaming at you in flashing, all-caps Impact font with Nyan Cat gliding by in the background. You aren't allowed to not understand Sorkin's metaphors, because he won't let you not understand them.

This problem ran up and down the spine of this week's episode, "The 112th Congress," in which we got our first taste of how News Night will be handling election coverage. The 2010 election brought about a sea change in our congressional make-up, with a huge influx of Tea Party candidates reigning triumphant not just over their hated Democrats, but even Republicans who weren't "bought in" on the group's message.

Make no mistake, this was by far the most conservatives-attacking episode of The Newsroom we've seen yet, but that was hardly the issue with it. The Tea Party itself isn't quite the force it was back in 2010, and many of us have learned that hey, maybe these guys aren't quite as brilliant as they seemed at the time (if you ever thought that at all). But in 2010, the Tea Party was at its apex of relevance, and Will McAvoy had a real problem with that.

Interestingly, Will self-identified as a Republican in this episode, doing so while ranting and raving to Charlie about how the Republicans were shouting down the more reasonable political discourse with cogent yet ill-conceived slogans and platforms. Will wasn't having it, and said he wanted to go after them. MacKenzie, lurking in the background, agreed. And with that, we were off to the races. The congressional races, I mean.

Will was relentless this week. Guest after guest appeared spouting the Tea Party rhetoric, and Will systematically dismantled every argument they had. He poked holes in their ideas, gave them statistical data that directly contradicted their platforms, and even directly went after the Koch brothers, the billionaires known for their somewhat clandestine funding of the Tea Party. Even during election night, Will couldn't resist trying to get a newly elected Tea Party congressman to comment on the debt ceiling, a question he artfully dodged by pretending not to hear it over the din of his celebrating supporters.

By all accounts, News Night was firing on all cylinders in every on-air moment this week. Good guests, witty commentary, complete and utter command of the facts before them, it was all there. Even Will's heavy-handed speech at the beginning of the episode, in which he apologized for the crappy turn News Night had taken prior to its recent discovery of capital-J Journalism, managed to work thanks largely to Jeff Daniels' strong delivery of Sorkin's speechifying.

So where could things go wrong? How would we find conflict amid so much successful journalism? Why, with the corporate suits, of course! This week proved to be the reckoning from the network heads that seemed all but assured to be coming. Throughout the episode, Will asked Charlie what was going on with the execs upstairs, and Charlie simply reassured him that everything was fine. Except, it wasn't.

Several times during the hour we found Charlie stuck in a conference room surrounded by boring men in suits, all of them explaining to him in excruciating detail why they believed News Night's new direction was detrimental to the network's interests. One, it put them at odds with the ratings-grabbing news programs on other networks who might, say, sensationalize the 2010 attempted Times Square bombing, instead of painting it as what it was: an isolated incident stopped before anything happened. And two, it put the network at odds with those Tea Party crazy people currently in elected office.

Charlie was unmoved by the stats and figures presented to him, explaining that he didn't care about their concerns. They were doing a news show the way he believed a news show should be done, dammit, and he was going to keep making references to Edward Murrow and McCarthyism until someone in the room agreed with him.

Unfortunately, he never got his assist. The lone silent voice in the room, the head of ACN (played by Jane Fonda), finally broke her silence and explained in no uncertain terms that News Night was to lay off the Tea Party now that it had some measure of power. After all, ACN had pending business before this new congress—a fact so important, she had to say it twice, exactly the same way—and mucking around with the Koch brothers and the newly elected congress would complicate that. We got no glimpse of how this new edict will affect News Night's direction, given that everything that happened in the conference room was meant to represent current time, while all the News Night segments were flashbacks. But it's safe to say that Will's carte blanche just got a little less blanche.

What we do know is that Sorkin will not resist any opportunity to draw parallels between the struggles of News Night and whatever else might be happening in the world. Nowhere was this more apparent than when Will found himself interviewing a newly deposed Republican congressman (played by the great Phillip Baker Hall; really good roster of guest-starring character actors on this show, eh?), who explained that his loss to a Tea Party candidate stemmed from him reaching out to sponsor a bill with a Democratic congressman (on housing for wounded veterans, for Christ's sake), and refusing to call Obama a socialist. He spoke facts, not party lines, and he was crucified for it. Does this sound familiar? And by that, I mean does this not sound exactly like what is happening with News Night right now because the metaphor is staring you right in the face?

Hall was great in his brief part, but this segment illustrated the heavy-handedness with which Sorkin attempts to use more subtle storytelling techniques. And it wasn't even the only example of this in the episode, though most of the others were smaller, sometimes even-more-obvious situations pertaining to the omnipresent interoffice relationships. I've already said my piece many times over when it comes to The Newroom's concepts of relationship humor, but "The 112th Congress" was a particularly meaningless exercise in said situations. This week, Will decided to go out with a series of hot women and meet them all in the office, which obviously rankled MacKenzie's feathers. Also, Maggie and Don broke up and got back together several times, while Jim continued to look sad. Zero forward progress, a lame twist (turns out MacKenzie has a secret boyfriend, who she showed off just as Will was about to apologize for flaunting his ladies in front of her), and more nothing dialogue that gave us no further insight into how any of these people think.

The only character who seems to be getting a truly illustrated backstory (besides Will) this season is Maggie, who this week we learned is prone to panic attacks and takes medication to quell them. It was the only scene in the episode that didn't involve actual news being reported or Sam Waterston yelling at people that really made any impact. Alison Pill, who I refuse to stop praising, managed to sell the feeling of uncontrollable panic without flying off into actor-y histrionics, while Jim's comforting words to help Maggie through the situation actually made me kinda like him for the first time in, well, ever. The problem? I still don't care if the two of them ever get together. The actors are putting on a good show for us, but in terms of this would-be love triangle, I'm not really sold either way.

In some ways, "The 112th Congress" was a foot forward for The Newsroom, and in others, a regrettable step back. And in others still, no step anywhere. This is a show that stalls, stumbles, and confidently strolls in random order every single week. I'd really love an episode to come along that maybe excises the former two pieces of that equation. Maybe next week, when we discover what Charlie's new mandate means for the News Night team, we'll get it.

Random Thoughts:

– Could MacKenzie have been any less of a factor this week? She was a bullet point on the suits' tear-down of the show's direction, and got to continue to act like a higher-degree version of a Katherine Heigl romantic-comedy character. God, you can see Emily Mortimer trying, but I feel like these last couple of weeks, her character's been drained of the feisty intelligence we saw in the pilot. And I don't even know what to do with this boyfriend revelation. I wouldn't be surprised if he just disappeared a couple of episodes from now.

– This wasn't an episode that featured much Olivia Munn, which gives me the feeling that we're not going to get any real development of her character this season. She's starting to feel like a late studio note hastily stitched into the season's storylines at the last possible second before filming.

– There was so much more Sam Waterston this week, which I am grateful for. And while I've cringed at many of Jane Fonda's late career choices, she and Waterston having it out this week was blissfully excellent. Fonda is terrific. Tough and contrarian without being over-the-top about it.

– Whoever the actor is who plays the ACN president/Fonda's son deserves some kind of special Emmy. The character hasn't even done anything that devious or underhanded yet, and already he's my Joffrey Baratheon for this show. I want all the horrible things to happen to him.

– Line of the episode goes to Will's response to MacKenzie's "warning" that the girls he's dating just want to sleep with him because he's famous: "That didn't sound like something that should come with a warning. That sounded like something that should come with balloons."


What'd you think of Episode 3?

Comments (67)
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I agree a lot, MacKenzie has been painfully dumbed down and is getting to point where she's no longer relevant considering Will fights his own battles now and the two agree on the show's direction (which was a conflict set up in the pilot I'd hoped to see more of throughout the season). Also think Munn was exactly that, an belated exec note to spice things up even though Sorkin had nothing to do for her.

As for the politics... I honestly had to re-watch some scenes to understand the story and even then I couldn't quite figure out what the meaning of it all was. This happened and it is very real, so why did almost every attempt of Will to clarify the "mistakes" to the viewers (I assume that that's what Sorkin wanted to do) feel like it was made up?



I sincerely hoped The Newsroom would lead to the discussions it said it wanted to lead to in the pilot. But so far the show feels dumbed down from that glorious first episode. There's no real discussion going at all. It's just News Night telling us what to think and why to think that without really discussing anything. It's not like you can take these "facts" (are they? I'm not sure and I shouldn't have to research that after watching a show about Journalism) and actually use them in a political debate. Which saddens me. The Newsroom promised to make a difference and I'm not sure if I put too much faith in it or if it just failed to live up to its own premise.
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The discourse between Waterson and Fonda was the best scene in the episode.
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I found this episode okay... not that bad, not that good. I guess I generally liked most of it, but I didn't find myself at all interested in any of the love stories (Mc/Mac or Jim/Maggie/Don) which they spent quite a bit of time on, and I think I'd have enjoyed it more if Mac had a bigger and/or better role (except for the jealous ex-GF type thing... I could've done with less of that).



Again, like every episode so far, it was the focus of the newscast that really entertained me. Everything else didn't do much for me.
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Tom Cruise is great in this! Oh wait. Rob Lowe is great in this! Oh wait. Tom Hanks is great in this! Oh wait. Good thing these jigsaw pieces are identical.
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Also did anyone else find the short scene between Maggie's boyfriend (Don?) and the guy he chewed out during election coverage really really awkward?

Like I wasn't sure what was going on or what it was supposed to accomplish. And then the Gypsy reference just totally sunk it. It came out of the blue and then the reaction didn't stick. That really felt like something just stuck in there to pad the script. Does anyone else agree?
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That was Elliott, the 10:00 News anchor. Don is his Executive Producer (EP) now (see Episode 1 for the quick explanation). Elliott was basically saying "I'm used to you being rough around the edges, but now you're out of line, get back to being professional or you're fired." It was a sign that the breakup with Maggie was getting to Don.
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I am surprised at the large number of negative reactions to the review. First of all, the review wasn't really THAT negative of the show. It examined some points here and there that our critic felt needed adjusting and points that he felt worked well. You can like a show and still admit that it has problems, which is the case here. This show is not perfect. But it's good, and it can be and, hopefully, will get better. And I have seen much more negative reviews of shows a reviewer really didn't like, believe me.



That being said, don't come to a review expecting all positives. That's not what a review is. You are free to disagree with the review, but don't call the reviewer unprofessional without just cause.
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Alison Pill is giving the same quality of performance she gave with Gabriel Byrne on the too soon canceled "In Treatment". She has made Maggie the most interesting female character on this show. Neither of her counterparts are in her league - hopefully the casting department is trying to find an actor capable of not being completely eclipsed by their costar to present a third option she doesn't work with/for because interoffice romance has been done to death on television and I thought Sorkin was aiming to do something different with this show.



Nice to see Jane Fonda get more to do than pick up a check for playing a parent/in law in some piece of crap romantic comedy. The best material is available on television Ms. Fonda. I would watch a show about her and Waterson's characters - everyone knows the powerful people make for better material.





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I agree that the show is heavy handed, but I don't think it is figuratively (aka metaphorically) about the dilemmas of current news programs, it is literally about the dilemmas of current news programs. If it's metaphor you seek, look no further than Jane Fonda's joke about Moses and Jesus playing golf, which I loved.
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Whew... TL-R. Smart show and thankfully isn't about lawyers, doctors or police. Despite being a bit up and down so far a really enjoyable show.
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Totally agree on the line of the episode. I fucking pissed myself when he dropped the line about how it should "come with balloons".

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anybody? title of the song/artist end of episode2?
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yeah, wasn't that Radiohead? High and Dry, it's off their album 'The Bends' which by the way is a fantastic album from start to finish
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love the show cant wait for the next episode.....
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Question? whats the title /artist of the song at the end of Episode 2 ...thanks thanks thanks.
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I am liking this show more and more with each episode. Although I very much understand the criticism it received, I can't be bothered by it. Of course there are metaphors and over-the-top moments, but I feel, until now, the show takes me through the whole hour without allowing me to think about something else but what happens in the show. For me, this is really rare and tells me the story-telling must be very good.
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I loved this episode. IMO its at the level of the pilot. Right now this is the show I look most forward to watching. At the end of every episode I'm surprised because it went so quick and pissed I have to wait another week for another one. I won't claim it's perfect but it makes TV, in general, much better; especially as a Summer show.

-Kind of tired of having the show reviewed by someone that doesn't like Sorkin. Not to say that the review is bad or his points are off base (though I have some disagreements), I'm just tired of feeling like I have to defend why I like the show here. With that said, ifference in opinion is good and I'm really enjoying the comments.
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I can't decide whether you tear this show apart because of political preference, or just generic internet self-aggrandizing narcissism of these self-professed 'critics' on the web who think a good vocabulary makes them smarter than professional showrunners and the like. Either way, your review is too heavy-handed and egotistical to be taken seriously. A shame, I come to this site for amusing reviews like Price Peterson, or even Tim Surette's commentary on current events, but this is just nitpicking to try and sound more intellectually superior to Sorkin. I want to watch Aaron Sorkin's shows weekly and watch movies he's written, but I never want to read another review by this Alex Navarro person, whoever he is - so thus ends the alleged superiority. Get someone else to review the show, TV.com, like so many other reviewers are requesting.
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Obviously you are a fan of the show, yet you have not mentioned what it is you liked about the episode, that differs from the review. This was a whole rant that could have been written in a single sentence. I wonder who's the one self-aggrandizing...
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I think it might be a little rash to claim that Chris Messena's character is the shows Joffrey, i mean he was only in a couple scenes. And he has yet to order anyones tongue ripped out, till then hes not in Joffreys league.
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Well, I guess having someone's tongue ripped out on a whim IS a pretty good reason to hate Joffrey. However, Cesare Borgia ("The Borgias") had it done to a rogue PRIEST for truthfully calling out his dad, Rodrigo Borgia, and he is still kind of portrayed as "heroic" in the context of THAT show. That said, I agree that is much to early in this series to compare ANYONE to a villain of the magnitude of Joffrey on GOT.



This show is not about life and death - just a look inside the corruption of a large news corporation that is not supposed to color the news either way, but just report it as it is factually, something that is almost never done today, with few exceptions. Most of the newspersons who actually are allowed to do that today are past normal retirement age, and there are only a few of their ilk coming up behind them.



When the daily or evening news, now primarily replaced by 24 hour cable news, became a "profit center", and not a "loss leader", the objective reporting of the news has never been the same. There are some exceptions, but they generally don't get the ratings of the more exciting cable shows, and low ratings = less real news.
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Obviously I'm a fan of Sorkin's and will say positive things about his show. But the one main comment I'd like to make today is about his speechifying. It's a metaphor, correct, and no, it really wasn't super subtle. Aaron Sorkin's dialogue teaches in lectures, quite often. I enjoy lectures, and loved my school days in no small part because of them. Maybe that's why I love and enjoy this stuff so much. The story indeed isn't progressing quickly, but I find myself not caring much, and I think that is why.



So I liked this episode better than episode 2, but yes there are things that could make it better. Oh, and please keep praising Allison Pill, because she deserves it, and I am right there on the bandwagon with you. She is doing a fantastic job. Contrary to you, though, I DO want them to get together. That said, I wanted that with Josh Lyman and Donna Moss on "The West Wing" and they stretched that out 7 seasons, so I wouldn't count on it happening anytime soon. I also like the time frame of this show. They're making pointed references to the span of time, and rather than keeping it instantaneous, they are stretching it out, which I like, and I think offers more for the show, and helps to take away from some of the complaints which you're voicing.



But, once again, these are my opinions.



-I agree here. Would LOVE to see more of that wit and talent from her. We've seen the result of it, but haven't seen that much of it in action from her since the first episode. Would like to see more.

-Didn't feature Munn much, however it set her up clearly as someone that Will is going to begin to count on much more as we progress.

-I am just LOVING the non-"Law & Order" Sam Waterston. Fantastic. And the stuff back and forth between him and Jane Fonda? Amazing. I could watch that stuff all day long.

-Yeah. He did a good job of speaking the party line (i.e. the company's "we want this because people will like us / it will make us money" line) while making us not want to like him, all the while staying well in character, for as much as we know about him (not even his name, I think).

-Great line. But there are bound to be better in the future, methinks.
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My heavy handed metaphor of the week would be Maggies panic attack desperate for her medication and because it wasn't there getting even more in a panic. Then Jim comes along reassures here with the facts and she calms down. in other words Maggie=USA, non medicine= Teaparty and Jim= honest news (ACN).

Maybe a stretch, but now that I've started picking on metaphors I can't stop.

Can we do this every week? please.
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I am totally down to do a Metaphor of the Week for the rest of the season.
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I would like that very much. I'm usually not the one looking for metaphors in shows and films, but Sorkin has this way of making me look smart.
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Isn't that why (deeeeeeep down) we all like him?
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It seems you might like The Newsroom better if it had more relationship drama - there's lots of shows with relationship drama in the early afternoon you'd probably enjoy more. I'd rather see how Waterston/Fonda/Will triangle plays out than Maggie/Jim/WhatsHisName.
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Was the metaphor really that blatant?



I, for one, didn't find it to be "blinding", "loud" or "flashing". It wasn't exactly subtle, but what's wrong with that? Would you have rather it been cryptic and ambiguous? A Congressman lost his seat for refusing to coddle partisan radicalism and speaking the truth. Will (unbeknownst to him) is in jeopardy of losing his job for prizing facts before ratings, refusing to sensationalize the news, and speaking the unvarnished truth. Now, I've finished my share of 'connect-the-dots' booklets in my day, so I understand parallels can be drawn here. Will's situation *IS* similar to the former Congressman's. Sorkin *IS* connecting the news and politics through his characters. How is that heavy-handed? Isn't the entire premise of this show rooted in the ideal of properly informing the electorate? The fact that several paragraphs along with the title of this review are dedicated to a critique of a somewhat insignificant metaphor which conforms with the very concept of the show is rather baffling.



I'll admit the relationships need some work.
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To critic the speed of the shows "relationships" this early in a shows life is, to be blunt, stupid. This is not your dime store show that has only 8 (or so) episodes to make it or break it. I am sure (like it has already been reported) that the show had a good idea it was going to at least get a second season. This being said, i like the slow pace with which the characters are developing. It shows good story telling and great writing skills.



This being said, I like and dislike the show. The acting is good, not great but enough to attract me to continue to watch. I want more Oliva Munn, and yes I am a 40+ year old man that has a crush on an Actress. The writing is really good, but it's Sorkin so no big surprise there. What I I have trouble with is some of the attempts to grab a laugh. They just seem to pushed. Sorkin is a smug comedic writer and it shows. Personally, I am not a big fan of what I call the "Chandler Bing" approach to comedy.



As for the reviewer/recapper/blogger, well whatever you want to call him. I do agree that he seems not to like the show. I will admit to skipping some of his lengthy point as to why he doesn't like the show. I guess we must ask is this a review or a recap? Personally I choose to skip all that discussion and follow those that have writing styles more to my liking... so keep the peace and keep on watching!
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to be honest i only watched the pilot, got bored and got on with my life



sportscentre was brilliant, 60 had some moments, this has nothing
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I am quite impressed that you find so much low points in the series because I am enjoying it a lot, maybe not for the political-journalist part but for the fast dialogue and the characters. I don't think Emily Mortimer is doing a bad job playing Mac, her character is not the most interesting one but I like that she is not all cold and serious, clumsy people can be professional too :P. I love Jim's character, I can't point why...maybe his nerdy but witty personality.



In my case, the overall problem of this show is the high idealism and patriotism... The lecture of the first minutes of the pilot was great, the whole "We aren't the best country" and then he had to say: "But we were"... I hope that in the future we will see the character not moral choices, but some greedy ones that will make them more dimensional.



That said, I love a review to be critic and to interpret the scenes and the metaphors but I agree with some people here that the tone of this review is too negative, you use three paragraphs to complain about the show and one to praise Allison Pill's performance. The newsroom is a very good show compared to what airs in TV nowadays, and I at least consider the fast witty dialogue a blessing in comparison with the dialogues from other shows.
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Eh, it's not bad to think that at one point... the US was all that. In the past....



We stood for something. We built things. We had a solid economy. We actually ranked well in education and science. We weren't starting wars left and right. Our citizens actually read the paper and listened to the news (mostly because there wasn't as much stuff to do) , etc. We weren't ever the only free country, but there were fewer of them around.



And while not every news person out there was a white knight... there were some that made sure that the news broke for news's sake and not ratings. Everything starts with a step, and the US gaining its ground CAN start with the public being informed correctly about politics and current events.
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First of all, I am sorry if the comment sounded anti-american, and I am sorry again if my answer here is gonna sound like it, that's not my intention.



I don't know how was USA before as I only know how is USA now by distance, because I am from Spain. I thought by the beginning of the speech that the show was gonna be more auto-critic than idealistic and I have to recognize that the girl question (....best country?) made me roll my eyes like "typical american egocentrism" and that's why I was so happy with Will answer and a little less with the second part of it. I know USA is a powerful country and that in economy he is actually the best (or close by with China or whatever), but the word "best" sounded quite childish to me.

My impression is, most surely, a cultural thing because here in Spain we're quite the opposite of you americans, we are not patriotic at all... (and I wish we have some of your patriotic sense, really) well, maybe only when a foreigner critics Spain... the thing is I am not used to the patriotic speeches and it seems a little cheesy to me. You are not gonna hear in your life "God bless Spain" and Spain is 90% catholic.



Anyway, I love the series even in its most idealistic moments (even when I don't understand most of the political references). By the way, it was so weird how Mac said "Don Quijote" in the first episode :P
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Well yeah, firstly I hate the "USA == #1" sentimentality. Really, if you're going to say your X is the best... chances are it's just because that's what you grew up with. Patriotism, raised as religion X, parents always drove Volkswagens, it's just silly.



In the context of his speach, I didn't take it to mean we would literally be the best again... just that we could at least finally become a solid country again.
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Seriously one of the best summer shows this season, this episode alone was pure gold. The cast is amazing and their relationships do not need to build. This is a show about THE NEWS not who is banging who.
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This was by far my favorite episode of the first three, largely because they took my favorite parts of the first two shows (the newscasts) and comprised most of this episode with almost nothing but that. Add in the incredibly entertaining discourse between Sam Waterston and Jane Fonda, as well as the growth of Allison Pill's character (and her acting) - it was a pretty successful episode, glaring negatives aside.



I, for one, enjoy a reviewer who actually critiques the episodes and gives personal insight into what they thought was successful or what failed. Most of the reviewers do that on this site, from what I've seen over the past year. If I want a plain, static recap, I can always go to the network's website and look at the Episode Guide. Or read a press release. But that sounds extremely boring to me. And not very likely to spur debate on the episode, which makes these comment sections so often entertaining to read. Keep on keeping on, Alex!
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I really wish TV.com would've chosen a different person to review this show.



Seriously, I mean no disrespect but I get angry reading your reviews.



For some reason, you're watching a show about Newscast which is also very political, and here you are week in week out criticizing the show for the fact that character relationships don't evolve. THAT IS NOT WHAT THE SHOW IS ABOUT GOD DAMN IT. I'm literally sighing as I write this.



You know what's funny? I actually don't think you got the metaphor of this episode. The metaphor isn't that the congressman's situation was the same that the news show was having. You know why it sounds familiar? Because it happens EVERYWHERE. Money dictates 'facts' and 'opinions' instead of them dictating themselves for themselves. I don't know how your life has been, but if you can't relate to this kind of situation, and instead need to relate it with situations within the episode itself, you must've had some kind of a blissful life.



Hopefully at some point during this season you will stop analysing everything you think Sorkin is doing wrong and just watch the damn show for what it is.



That said... loved the episode. Jeff Daniels is giving killer performances and Pill is at it again this week. I'm liking the casting more and more and as you said, the guest stars have been incredible.



Roll on next Sunday...
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As soon as episode 3 started it was quite clear the tone of the show, and Sorkin's influence is really reigning through. I am not sure how much I like this show just yet, I'll give it a few more episodes and decide if I'll continue watching it or tune out.



I was not surprised in the slightest that the show opened with Richard Clarke's apology in his 9/11 testimony. Clarke standing out of the crowd and saying that the government, and he himself, had failed the American people in the run up to 9/11 is a rare glimpse of responsibility in an environment where admitting mistakes, short-comings, potential weaknesses and so forth can kill your entire political career.



But seriously, was this the best moment to use to prompt Will's long apology for the news his show has been reporting for years? Clarke's apology concerned the inability to save 3,000 lives and prevent horrifying injuries to thousands more, not to forget the destruction of the most iconic symbols of the Manhattan skyline. I really don't think so.



Yes, there is a major problem with American "news" media, but there is a wide variety of news outlets to choose from across all forms of media. Journalism is not entirely dead. Not every news network is Fox News. This is where I get annoyed with this show because it takes a soapbox position (I'd say elitist but that word has been so badly misused and tarnished.. though Will did describe his team as the News elite...) that goes something like this: We're smart, we're right.. viewers are dumb, they need us to spoon feed them the truth or else they'll vote for the wrong people.



This is a recurring theme in the show already. Will's rant about America not being the greatest country in the world anymore in episode 1 was laced with it. The statistics were also presented very badly for a show that pushes "facts" as the ultimate good. Just as one example, when he said America leads the world in defense spending, he's talking about RAW dollar spending. However, economists will tell you that's a very imperfect interpretation of public spending.



You judge public spending based on its ratio to gross domestic product. When you do that, America is nowhere near top of the list in defense spending. It also is nowhere near the top for the largest standing army. It's nowhere near the top for its nuclear arsenal and so forth. So which version of the "facts" are we to expect from the fictional Newsnight? The answer, I believe, is the one most useful to Aaron Sorkin.



Also, in his speech, he ended his initial rant by telling the 20-year old college girl that she is "no doubt a member of the worst! generation! ever!". Now why do I take issue with that? It's not because I'm 25 and so potentially a target of that criticism, but instead because I have no idea where the show's writers are coming from with that statement. The whole world is in the midst of a prolonged economic problem now that this girl's generation played no part in creating. The world is not run by the young, it's run by the middle aged. The young are those who are sent to war, saddled with enormous college-related debt and unable to find employment after they graduate. They created none of these problems. That would, ironically, be Will's generation.



Then when the Newsroom writers decided they had to put in some soppy part of the speech, Will conveniently forgets to be specific, to use statistics, and makes generalized statements.



"We fought wars for moral reasons." Which wars? Why did the Newsroom writers not mention any specifics here? I believe its because if he had said even World War II, then the rest of what he said would be soured by the fact that in 1940s, minorities didn't have equal rights to white people in America. Yes, the fight against totalitarianism and fascism is one of the proudest things America ever did, but if these were the days when America used to be the "greatest country in the world", why didn't it feel that way to millions of Americans who were discriminated against in their own country?



When women weren't treated nearly as equal in society? It's the fact that Will's "feel good" ending to the speech completely left out any specifics that shows the writers were terrified that some critic might point this out.



The "worst! generation! ever!" played a huge role in electing a black president. Whether you like Obama or not, ask yourself if a black man could have been elected in the 1940s, or 1950s? Or for decades? Will's rant might have pointed out some problems in America, of that I have no doubt, but for a show that is pushing "facts" as godly, and chastising news media for polarized reporting and pandering to an agenda, why was its (seriously over-advertised) first five minutes so inconsistent with its own message?



I'll stop going on about it now :-) But I do think the show is extremely biased toward the world views of its own creator. Don't mix that up with me saying it is "conservative bashing" show because that's not entirely true either. For example, the first episode's focus on the deepwater horizon accident is the only reason I tuned in to episode two, yet even that part has been (in some circles) seen as conservative bashing, which I strongly have to disagree with. However, by episode 3, it was clear that Will's constant attacks on the tea party candidates were Sorkin et al.'s vehicle for fighting an old fight.. you know.. "just in case you didn't know this at time..."



Unfortunately, the last criticism I have to make is that the handling of the news itself is the ONLY part of the show that's even a slight bit interesting. Will and MacKenzie's past relationship and their tension is extremely uninteresting. The blonde girl's turmoil relationship with the really annoying idiot (yes, I don't remember the characters names) and the new guy's obvious intention to make advances is extremely uninteresting. There is nothing at all interesting about the show besides the finding, choosing and reporting of news, and even that isn't that good.The characters just are not good. MacKenzie, with the token British accent, is such a cliche figure in the show.



But ye, I'll shut up now ;-)
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I need to start watching this show.
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This is Aaron Sorkin, so we knew this would be a Conservative-bashing show from the start, despite the characters' insistence that "facts are center". Yes, they are. But choosing which facts to present and cover is not "center".

At the same time, the Republican Party has been much more dynamic in recent years (emergence of Tea Party and Radical Right, stronger Libertarian showing, etc.) than the Democrats, so there is simply more Republican news to cover.

I still want to see some Democrat bashing, because they have their flaws as well. Only in my dreams perhaps, especially since Sorkin is Jewish, would Will McAvoy take Democratic politicians to task for supporting Israel's apartheid against the Palestinians.

The show has its flaws, but it is definitely entertaining. Jeff Daniels is terrific, as are Sam Waterston (how funny was his Burgess Meredith impression?) and Allison Pill.
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you seem like a reasonable person. But the content of what you said is not really true.



just more press release reading and attempted false equivalency



if Aaron Sorkin has a left-leaning perspective, then there is no reason he should invent some phony "bashing balance"...



facts are facts.



Yes, some facts are biased.



But that doesn't mean you ignore those facts or try to balance them with tangentially related facts. This is the trap the rightwing message masters continually push the MSM into...not reporting facts that make the rightwing look bad. So, instead we get the opposite. Mostly positive reporting on teaperty and mostly negative coverage of the wall street protesters.
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Sorkin should invent a balance if the fake news program in the television series he is writing has a mission statement of "We're Centrist/Moderate". They haven't been so far. You're right, sometimes issues are really one-sided. And sometimes issues SEEM incredibly one-sided to us, but to others aren't.



My problem so far is that Will's focus has seemingly only been on Conservative issues. And maybe taking the timeline of the show into account (currently in November 2010), the big issues at that time were mainly Conservative issues. But there are also news stories like the Deepwater Horizon spill. There are news stories about Liberal initiatives that Will could want to educate his viewers on. It has just been rather one-sided so far. Especially considering Will is a Republican, you think he'd want to take a few jabs at Democrats.

It's been fun, but if the news program is supposed to be what it has claimed it is, we need to see variety. How about coverage on the War in Iraq? Obama's latest (as of November 2010) withdrawal plan and Will's reaction. Super juicy.
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I agree - this false equivalency that we've been seeing the past few years has gotten silly. Especially on CNN, where on every issue, they now have 3 commentators - left, right and "funny". Not every issue needs to be made balanced. Sometimes one side is right and one side is wrong. It's that simple.

These days, CNN is so obsessed with appearing balanced, they actually quote GOP talking points, especially when questioning a progressive. Even during the debates, Anderson Cooper asked a question that started by quoting a GOP-pushed false fact. They don't always fact check GOP talking points, and thus legitimize fringe opinions by presenting incorrect information. THAT is the problem with false equivalency. When one side is right on an issue, they're so afraid to upset the other side, they bend over backwards to make the "wrong" people feel better, rather than clearly explain why the other side may be right.
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Okay, I don't understand. Most recaps are written by people who fundamentally like a show, so even if there are critiques it isn't here's what I hated most this week. These aren't even fun to read it's just a laundry list of what Alex Navarro doesn't want to see on TV. If they are so horrible for you to write, how do you think they are for us to read. I don't need a cathartic b#tch fest, I like the show and I like Sorkin. And anyone who sticks with the show will probably like it as well.
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Believe it or not, I'm actually a pretty big Aaron Sorkin fan, and I was sincerely looking forward to The Newsroom before it debuted. I still like several things about the show, but I'd be remiss if I didn't express my concerns and critiques of a show that I'm watching. And yes, I'm watching it willingly, not just as an assignment.
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I appreciate that you got the job with high hopes for the show and that some of those seem to have been dashed for you, but I would really suggest that you find something that you enjoy in watching the show. Because if you can't find any joy in the show, how can the audience find anything entertaining in your recaps? People who hate everything about the show aren't going to be watching week in and week out, people who like the show are.
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Wow, I actually read reviews that I find intelligent and amusing, and that's why I come back to tv.com week after week. I don't need or want intelligent, amusing writers to agree with me on everything. I've been a screenwriter for ten years and it's really very refreshing to hear a perspective that doesn't treat Sorkin like the second coming of L. Ron Hubbard.
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As do I. But paragraphs upon paragraphs of complaining is neither amusing nor intelligent. Especially not three weeks in a row. The article gives you the impression he would rather have had a root canal than sit through the entire episode. And that isn't amusing for me either. You can critique a show without the oppressive negativity. Plus, he has no idea what a metaphor is. Two thematically connected storylines of two professionals fighting separate wars for integrity that stand on their own isn't a metaphor. A metaphor is when one thing stands in for another.
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I have to disagree rather strongly with you here.

Reviews are not meant to tell you what you want to hear.

A critic is supposed to do just that: CRITICIZE (if necessary).

A review is an examination of the show, not a laudatory ode.

The News Room has its faults and Alex is calling our attention to the faults he perceived. He also had compliments for parts of the show. Perhaps if you actually read the review you would know that. Different critics have different opinions to be sure, and if you want to write your own review in which you tell us why the various parts of the show work, go ahead. You can even submit it on this site's page for "The News Room". I personally like the show-it's entertaining, it's smart, and it's well-acted; but it is not perfect, by any means.
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TV.com has recaps. I'm not looking for wanna-be blogger critics. And most of the other recaps are just that recaps.
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Are you saying the other writers on tv.com don't criticize or insert their opinions? Have you ever read ANYTHING on this site? There has never once been the kind of vanilla recap you seem to want posted here.
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I'm saying that in the end they seem to fundamentally like the shows they are talking about. Price has fun with his shows and his readers have fun too. He makes good shows, and even mediocre shows, even better. I don't come to TV.com to read people trying so hard to sound like hardcore critics that all they can do is find problems with a show. A one-off review of a show is one thing (should you watch it, was the season successful), but week-in week-out recaps are for people who have already decided to watch and I think a writer needs to be cognizant of the goals of his audience.
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I would totally agree with you if I liked this show. But I don't. So I guess it's a matter of perspective. As long as the headline and the first few lines gives you a heads up that it's a critical piece, then I don't see the problem. Or if he were doing this on a weekly basis to the same show, that would be unfair and ridiculous (is he?) because I don't like campaigns AGAINST shows.



Did you see the one they did about Big Foot? Come on. That was good. Nobody liked that, did they? Why have some fun with it?



(btw, I guess I can understand someone liking this show through a "what if" point of view...as as West Wing, which was kind of cathartic. But I think we allow ourselves in the center and left to be eased off the cliff a little too easy through cathartic jokes via John Stewart and Maher and shows like this...we need to face up to reality. The rightwing are playing for keeps and will take no prisoners. Let's quit laughing it off and trying to empathize so much..am i ranting? I've gone into rhetorical berserker mode...seriously what day is it? where am i?)
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It's a weekly recap. He does this for every episode so far.
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Lol...yeah have to agree...I enjoy reading the game of thrones and walking dead reviews simply cause the writer seems to nerdgasm over the show just as much as the rest of us the fans do



if you dont like the show...pass the review privileges onto someone who does
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The way you've phrased this, I see what you mean.



IF (and this is a big if) someone else on staff LIKES the show, then they should definitely be the one to write the review/recap. It doesn't have to be all negative to be interesting. I agree.
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I'm happy this show has its fans ... may it live long and prosper.



I'm a center left political junkie and J-school grad.



but I hate this show. Not as much as I hate the Tpardee ( I cant even bring myself to say it), but hate all the same.



It's so freakin' pompous and nothing but complete fantasy. Stop romanticizing broadcast Journalists in the national MSM. They are nothing more than pretty faces in suits propping up the 1 percent. They are press release readers, yellow journalists, and stenographers who only care about themselves and their careers.
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But that's the point of the show: the anchor wants things to go back to the golden-years of broadcast... where (at least) some broadcasters would actually go to inform the public on stuff and not pander to ratings.



That instead of just consisting of repeating Apple's June press release / scaring the public with something unnecessary / spreading some some gossip or slanderous yellow journalism... that they actually inform the public on what the frack is going on.
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I know, I get it. But the anchor in this show doesn't exist.



but do you know what DOES exist?



About two dozen real live anchors pretending THEY are personifying the "golden years" just like in this show.



But nobody is. And nobody ever will. Because nobody can turn down the money. The media have been bought off. Now the Supreme Court has given permission to buy off elected officials. And there's really not much any one person can do about it. So what's the point in watching?
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True, but one can make the complaint about all fiction that tries to send out the message "this is what X is like, let's make it better"



West Wing, ER, Law & Order, the Closer, etc. Just about every Drama out there has the main characters tilting at windmills trying to make things better. Be it bureaucracy, politics, social norms, etc.



Sure... EVERYONE pats their backs and says "I'm doing this" when they're really not (read: politicians). This "character" is just honestly trying to do what's right.
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don't agree with including ER, Law and Order or the Closer on the list. Those are all clearly established dramatic formats that are not about real politics.



Might as well throw in Star Trek in your list. But if you don't get my point, that's ok too.
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See, it's ironic, because Jane Fonda used to be married to the head of a major news network...
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Or the fact that the Tea Party is killing good republican ideals and making them a mockery for liberals.
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Every episode of The Newsroom should be followed by an "I'm Barrack Obama and I approve this message" message.
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Thanks to activist rightwing court, that's no longer necessary.



Google "Citizens United"



you might learn something
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Um, actually that is still a requirement. Citizen's United didn't over turn that portion of the BCRA. Maybe you should google it so that you can actually learn something rather than repeating what Jon Stewart or Bill Maher said.
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