Crashing Pilots: The Newsroom Part II
By David Mumpower
August 2, 2012
We have reached the halfway point in season one of The Newsroom and yes, the series has been renewed. In this regard, Aaron Sorkin’s current program has already trumped his previous one, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. With five episodes aired of a ten episode season, this is the perfect opportunity to examine whether the show has picked up after the uneven quality of the pilot.
In my previous evaluation of the pilot for The Newsroom, I expressed frustration with the episode’s uneven pacing. My hope as well as my expectation had been that after awkwardly introducing all of the characters, the series would become consistently entertaining. I am disappointed to acknowledge that uneven quality remains a hallmark aspect of The Newsroom. Thankfully, the highs outnumber the lows.
Let’s start with the lows. The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin’s first cable television series, featured a 75 minute pilot. As I mentioned in the prior column, the first 40 minutes were an inelegant attempt to introduce a multitude of characters in brief interactions. Once all the players were established, the final half of the story exhibited the sort of flair we have come to expect and even demand from Sorkin’s programs. The idea of a recent history evaluation through the 20/20 lens of hindsight is engrossing. My stated belief was that with no further need for introductions, the show should find a stronger balance moving forward.
This did not happen.
The issue with The Newsroom thus far is that some of the characters are well developed and likable while others are not only poorly developed but also undeniably there solely to create conflict. I am speaking of the characters of Don and Reese in particular.
Don is the opportunist executive producer whose first appearance in the pilot was to introduce himself as the boyfriend of Maggie Jordan. Don’s second appearance was to announce that he had ditched News Night for the 10 p.m. program on Atlantis Cable News (ACN). To date, Don is The Newsroom’s primary antagonist.
Over the first half of season one, Don’s driving purpose has been to disappoint Maggie as a significant other. Their mercurial relationship has been described more than shown. The lingering line of dialogue that best expresses Maggie’s feeling about the situation is a sardonic rejoinder of “You were too supportive,” as he failed her yet again a nurturing lover.
Personally, Don is a dying soul who clings to Maggie because he savors her purity, the lone source of light in his dreary days. He is simply too much of a bastard to be appreciative of his girlfriend.
Professionally, Don’s sole purpose in the first 3.9 episodes was outside observer. A shameless career climber, this man was Will McAvoy’s favorite executive producer ever…for the three months they worked together. With no warning, Don hitched his bandwagon to Elliot Hirsch, McAvoy’s protégé. In the interim, the reinvigorated News Night has become the must-watch program on ACN. This turn of events frustrates Don to no end with the result being that he complains all the time.