The Newsroom

Season 1 Episode 3

The 112th Congress

Aired Sunday 10:00 PM Jul 08, 2012 on HBO
out of 10
User Rating
114 votes

By Users Episode Review


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

    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.

  • Episode Summary

    Will catches the eye of network executives and Atlantis World Media CEO Leona Lansing when he apologies on-air for his dishonest and inaccurate coverage before the November 2010 midterm elections.

    Who was the Episode MVP ?

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    • Having doubts about the direction this show is headed

      I really liked the first two episodes of this show. The writing was sharp and the rather ridiculous premise that a bunch of news people would decide to put on a real news show has a fairy tale appeal.

      But I have a few issues with episode 3. The structure was choppy, the tone was didactic, and it was a little slow, but that's not my big issue. And before I say what my big issue is, I want to make it clear that I hate the Tea Party and consider it a hugely destructive force in American politics. And I found the show's idea that the Tea Party was a different concept co-opted by the right interesting.

      But after two episodes of talking about how this news show would be all about the facts, I think it's ridiculous that Aaron Sorkins' version of a news show with integrity is one that relentlessly goes after the Tea Party. Because while, yes, the Tea Party is terrible, that's not news every single night. There is a difference between asking the hard questions and going on a crusade, a difference between an edgy, hard-hitting news show and an MSNBC-style opinion show.

      Yes, I understand that the show wants us to equate the Tea Party with McCarthyism, and thus as something that needs to be hammered away at. But how is this even a useful tactic? A news show that is clearly going after the Tea Party full force, that does not have conversations with right-wing politicians but simply interrogates them, that carefully prepares questions with the hopes of embarrassing its interviewees, would only attract the partisan left, and thus have no effect on the opinions of the people the show is trying to reach. The show would just be seen, justifiable, as arrogant and partisan.

      I hope this is just a poorly thought-out episode in what could still be a very solid series, but if Aaron Sorkin doesn't understand what a news show is, nor what balanced is (as the show said, it is absurd to give serious attention to a ludicrous claim, but that doesn't mean all nonsense comes from the Tea Party and that true balance requires only going after them). I like to think of my fellow progressives as being smart - Jon Stewart smart - so it breaks my heart to see Newsroom acting dimwitted.moreless
    • A 6 month long episode

      I found it a really odd choice to focus the pilot episode on a roughly 12 hour time frame and the third episode on a roughly 6 month long time frame.

      That said I enjoyed what this allowed them to do on the character development front - especially with Will's dating of several women to anger Mackenzie and Charlie's continued defense of his program's performance to the corporate suits. Jim and Maggie's relationship progressed as well - Alison Pill did an awesome job with her panic attack scene - but I'm glad they didn't use the expanded time element to rush them together too quickly.moreless
    • A mix of pace and a lot of left, good writing but somewhat bad character development

      This episode made me gleefully vindicated for my anti-Tea Party feelings, root for the (too-obvious) Jim/Maggie relationship, laugh out loud, get confused, and take a deep breath at the end.

      The Show: I'm pretty "left," and I still thought this was too left at first. I mean, surely there were other newsworthy things that could be highlighted night after night. What made it almost okay was 1) (sadly) Will saying he had to do this because he was a republican, and 2) Charlie's representation of the facts as center, and "balance" as false at the end (loved that). There were definitely points scored on both sides in the ultimate argument. For just one example, some human interest pieces (obesity, cancer, AND MUCH MORE) are not the sh*t they were offhandedly deemed. This seemed dismissive of the "context of humanity" the starting apology praised. And yeah, that apology was freaking fantastic. My last comment would be to fix the pacing differences. The show cuts answers to make a point, it jumps around sometimes, and it was just too much for my brain to follow at points.

      The Relationships: Could Jim/Maggie be more obvious? And did anyone else, hearing the name "Jim Harper" (Jim Halpert, anyone??) immediately begin to see Jimaggie (as they are now deemed) as Jim/Pam from The Office? I am hoping for a long and steady progression--I am upset about the state of Pam/Don's relationship, AND the heavy-handed way of the writers of portraying it. On the latter point, the only speck of advantage we have seen for these two happened when Don was scolded for being a huge douche since he had broken up with Maggie. Maggie makes him better. Okay. Anything else? Even poor Jim knows they must have something. Right? Right?

      As for Mac and Will, Mac really lost a good deal of her intelligence to me tonight. She lurked in the background, she was defended (in a weird way) by Charlie, and she acted way too obviously jealous over Will. And her boyfriend? Oh. Already forgot him. Only forgiving that token move if the boyfriend has any real importance later on. I did like Maggie giving Will relationship advice (she did something like that in the last episode too, I like their relationship!). I still don't like the lead woman of the show, Mackenzie, being school girl. Yeah, she was nothing this episode.

      The Projection: So from here, News Night is going to have to covertly cover the real news--something that will make it easier for both in-show viewers, and for us real-world viewers, despite the moral regression implied. Will and Maggie are going to pretend to be adults about each other's personal choices. Jim's going to be unexpectedly cold to Maggie, she'll be bewildered, and Don will not look any better (although I wish he would).

      What I'd like to see: More Olivia Munn--the "strong woman" of the show, for me, although I do like Maggie. I want her to swoop in and steal the show, save the day, make a point, and astound Will, Mackenzie (seriously? Legs? I still haven't gotten over that, even if it's true), and everyone else. She's earning her way more than anyone.

      More Dev Patel; the girl in his bed and his friendship with Jim were his significant points in the episode, and I don't want this keen, smart guy to be relegated to nothing but a supporting role for Jim, although those scenes were okay.

      Mackenzie needs to act her age. Like she actually earned those awards she listed in a my-horse-is-bigger-than-your-horse convo with Will's first date. I need to have an admirable leading lady again. Please. I really want to like her, but her status seems impossible for someone so easily distracted by personal things. She doesn't seem used to pressure, mature friendships (does she have friends? Haven't seen any), or, well, business.

      And let some real republicans have a say, eh?moreless
    Jon Tenney

    Jon Tenney

    Wade Campbell

    Guest Star

    Philip Baker Hall

    Philip Baker Hall

    Bryce Delancy

    Guest Star

    Matt Long

    Matt Long


    Guest Star

    David Harbour

    David Harbour

    Elliot Hirsch

    Recurring Role

    Chris Messina

    Chris Messina

    Reese Lansing

    Recurring Role

    Adina Porter

    Adina Porter

    Kendra James

    Recurring Role

    Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


    • TRIVIA (0)

    • QUOTES (3)

      • Will McAvoy: Adults should hold themselves accountable for failure.

      • MacKenzie MacHale: Can I warn you about something? You're a rich and famous person and for that reason only, she may want to sleep with you.
        Will McAvoy: That didn't sound like something that should come with a warning, that sounded like something that should come with balloons.

      • Charlie Skinner: I've been sitting here for two and a half hours and I still don't know why. It's like being in the cast of a Fellini film.

    • NOTES (3)

      • Company Credits: Rich King Casting (Extras Casting), Ken & Art's Catering (Caterer), Hollywood Babble On (Loop Group), MFX (Visual Effects), Shine (Main Title Design), Deluxe (DiTV Services), Todd AO Studios (Post Sound Services), G.E.P. (Avids), Evan M. Greenspan, Inc. (Music Licensing), PIX System (Digital Dailies), Otto Nemenz (Alexa Cameras)

      • Crew Additions and Clarifications:
        Emily Bruza (Art Production Assistant)
        John Hill (Lead Man), Scott Bruza (Gang Boss), John Pollard (On-Set Dresser)
        Carrie Dacre (Set Costumer), Ruben Calderon (Set Costumer), Summer Browning (Additional Costumer), Maria Bruno (Additional Costumer)
        Jane Galli (Department Head Make-Up Artist), Barbara Lorenz (Department Head Hair Stylist)
        Sean J. O'Shea (A Camera First Assistant Camera), Coy Aune (A Camera Second Assistant Camera), Brice Reid (B Camera First Assistant Camera), Betty Chow (B Camera Second Assistant Camera), David Erickson (C Camera First Assistant Camera), Kristen Laube (C Camera Second Assistant Camera), Mike "Kiwi" Langford (Digital Loader), Shannon Mita (Digital Utility)
        Kevin Faber (Utility Sound)
        Craig Kvinsland (Lighting Technician), Nathan December (Lighting Technician), Floyd Olsen, Jr. (Lighting Technician), Steve Reinhardt (Lighting Technician), Eric Arendt (Lighting Technician), Bobby Lam (Lighting Technician)
        Chris Scurria (A Dolly Grip), Pete McAdams (B Dolly Grip)
        Jeff Tartaglini (General Foreman), Adrian Rutiaga (Labor Foreman), Kevin Mahoney (Paint Foreman), Rick Belosic (Toolman), Luis Aguilar (Stage Foreman)
        Tina Sparks (Second Assistant Accountant), Justin A. Desantis (Clerk)
        Kismet Burroughs (Assistant Craft Service)
        Melissa Moseley (Still Photographer)
        Matt Morrissey (Video Effects Supervisor), Dave Henri (Playback Content Supervisor), Steve Irwin (Playback Engineer), Mark Scott (Playback Engineer), James Visconti (Computer Engineer), Jim Sevin (Playback Technician)
        Deborah Ricketts (Archival Footage Clearance), Randall Green (Playback Production Assistant)
        Srdjan Popovic (IFB Talent Mixer), Robert Pastoriza (Studio Camera Operator) Jesse Acosta (Jib Camera Operator), Tom Rowe (Remote Camera Operator)Eric Roberts (Tech Utility)
        Jessica Held (Assistant to Mr. Rudin), Dan Sarrow (Assistant to Mr. Rudin), Daniel Leviton (Assistant to Mr. Poul), Nicholas Baker (Assistant to Mr. Biggs)
        Mallory Squeo (Set Production Assistant), Jed Koneiczny (Set Production Assistant), R. Ben Parker (Set Production Assistant)
        Andrew Myatt (Post Coordinator), Michael Kamens (Post Production Assistant)
        Daniel Nakamura (Mix Stage Technician)
        Lori Jones (Deluxe Post Supervisor), Pankaj Bajpai (DiTV Final Colorist), Dan Booth (DiTV Dailies Colorist), Rob Williams (Smoke Artist)

      • Original International Air Dates:
        Czech Republic: August 13, 2012 on HBO
        Turkey: September 30, 2012 on CNBC-e
        Germany: November 29, 2012 on Sky Atlantic HD
        Finland: April 9, 2013 on YLE TV1

    • ALLUSIONS (0)