Tag Archives: Sam Waterston

The Newsroom – Won’t Get Fooled Again

27 Aug

The Newsroom aired it’s season finale last night on HBO, entitled, “The Greater Fool”, which also happens to be the title of the cover story Brian (Mac’s Ex) did on Will and News Night 2.0. The article was a scathing attack, it has been out for weeks and Will is taking it very hard. So hard in fact that he is mixing Effexor, Bourbon and naproxen, causing him to vomit blood and lands him the hospital.

The finale was a mixed bag, between mad cap silly MacKenzie freak outs, Maggie’s sidewalk rant at the Sex and The City Tour bus, and how neatly the hacking scandal was wrapped up, and Leona’s about face. I think the show was done shooting before it even aired and before they knew it was going to be renewed. That could explain why nothing was really left hanging, it even looked like Will and Mac were getting back together.

I still love the show, but I had a lot of issues with the finale. It was too staged, too obvious, the montage set to The Who‘s “Baba O’Reilly” was supposed to be one of those moments when the hero and the troops rally and we rally with them, the music pumping, the in your face we will rise again, came across as insincere and didn’t get me going at all. Because I never felt our Newsroom folk were really that down and out.  Haven’t thy been rallying like this all season, didn’t we just see a scene like this last week when Will decided to drop Casey Anthony and go back to the old format proving Brian wrong.

Let’s discuss what didn’t work, the way MacKenzie and Sloan are written and portrayed. MacKenzie has become more and more shrill as the weeks have progressed.  She is completely unprofessional, and her emotional outbursts are an insult to women, who manage to get through their workdays without screaming at the top of their lungs and pouting or making moon eyes at their ex while they beg to know what the voicemail they never got said. Sloan is supposed to be this highly intelligent woman, but Sorkin manages to diminish her by making her socially inept and overly concerned with the size of her ass.  Cliche

 Its been a while since I watched the West Wing, but I don’t recall CJ, or Donna being written this one dimensional or insulting. I know Sorkin has it in him to write better female characters, so let’s hope he pulls it together for next season or just like the Republican party woman will be turning off Newsroom in droves. 

I knew that Jim and Maggie couldn’t end up together,(well not this season anyway) but to have her move in with Don! Really!  Maggie would be far more interesting, if she had said no to both and worked on some character development before she took on her next relationship. Lisa had just pointed out to Maggie that she and Don are no any further along in their relationship than they were a year ago. And all Don has to do it light some candles, spread some rose petals and all of sudden this grand gesture makes up for what a jerk he is. Oh Maggie, and Aaron Sorkin, this isn’t a 1990’s rom-com, is Katherine Heigl joining the case next season.

What did work, the 3 big moments that needed to, thereby redeeming the finale.

The confrontation scene with Leona and Reese, the fake out with the envelope, Sam Waterston really makes every scene he is in, I hope he is nominated for a supporting actor Emmy for his work on this show, he elevates all those around him. The opening banter between Will and Leona was tight, great barbs.  The fake out with the beef stew recipe, while not new, was effective and the perfect middle finger to Reese.

Will finally finds out it wasn’t a hallucination, it was Mac at Northwestern holding up those signs, the signs that prompted his speech. A speech I happen to agree with, and an America I long to have back.

The Greater Fool, is an economic term, they rely on him to buy long and sell short, self delusion and ego propel him, his belief that he can  succeed where others have failed. We need The Greater Fool.  Anytime someone is called a “fool” on TV I am always reminded of Shakespeare’s use of the Fool character, he always turned out to be the smartest character in the play. King Lear anyone.

The final moment, the pay off if you will.  The girl who asked Will the question at Northwestern that started it all is applying for an internship. It takes Will several hours to realize who she is and when he confronts her, she says she has been watching the show and she wants to be The Greater Fool. Congratulations Don Quixote, your mission was not in vain.

We all have the potential to change, to hear the message and change.

What will next season bring, who knows, I hope they keep the good and tone down the personal lives hysterics.

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Stop Making me cry Aaron Sorkin or Why The Hell Aren’t You Watching The Newsroom

6 Aug

I spent the weekend watching Aaron Sorkin’s new show on HBO, The Newsroom. I have been watching every week, but something made me sit and watch all 6 episodes back to back twice, once on Saturday and again on Sunday. I capped off my weekend with last night’s new episode, the superb “5/1”.

I am going to admit right up front I am a huge Sorkin fan, from West Wing to Moneyball, he is an immensely talented writer, and I don’t care if he preaches to me, or educates me.  The beauty of The West Wing all those years ago was it taught us, it made us think about the world we lived in, the society in which we all take part.

Just like West Wing, The Newsroom is both educational and entertaining, it is made up of characters that are fleshed out, characters that are deeply flawed and endearing. Sorkin has assembled an outstanding cast lead by Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer and Sam Waterston.

Three of the seven episodes that have aired so far have left me in a puddle of tears at the end. The first, “I’ll Fix You” dealt with the shooting of Gabby Giffords, next “Amen” and finally last night’s “5/1”. 

“5/1” was the best Newsroom so far, set against the backdrop of the night we killed Osama Bin Laden, the episode furthered the Jim/Maggie relationship, introduced a really interesting plot point about TMI and provided a cautionary tale about mixing Vicodin and weed. 

The episode opens at a party in Will’s apartment, the Newsroom gang has gathered to celebrate Newsnight’s 1 year and 1 week anniversary.  Charlie (Sam Waterston) gets a call from an anonymous source telling him he will get a call from the White House Press Secretary later in the evening.  The purpose of this call is to establish the anonymous source’s credibility, the source has a much bigger story to tell Charlie and he needs to make sure Charlie will believe him.   As the audience we all know that the party will be over soon, everyone will hae to head into the office to get ready for the President’s address. Until then we get enjoy some interesting scenes of the team interacting in a social setting.

We are treated to Jeff Daniels and Jim Gallagher showing off their musical talents (both accomplished singer/musicians) on a duet of “Sunshine (Go Away Today)”.   Next up, Maggie over hears Lisa telling Jim she loves him, which prompts Maggie to tell Jim if he doesn’t love her he should break it off.  I wonder how long it will take for Jim and Maggie to get together? Will there be the big kiss in the finale, we all know the big Don/Maggie break up is coming, or is Don going to propose in a last ditch effort to keep her.  Is a Don/Sloane pairing on the horizon?

Speaking of Don and Sloane, they spend the entire episode, along with Elliot trapped on the tarmac at La Guardia airport. As usual Don is freaking and pisses off the flight attendant, even though it is a bit contrived and his “bad passenger” behavior is actually a set up for the big reveal at the end it works.  Because it’s Don and being bugged eyed and freaking is what he does best.

Another bit of business that I found rather humorous was Will being high. It raised an interesting question, I wonder how many times that has happened in real life. I can’t imagine every anchor is sober 24 hrs a day, isn’t it possible one of more had a few too many an then went on the air because there was no way they were going to miss out on a huge story. 

What I liked most about the episode was Sorkin found a way to weave in representatives from the groups hit the hardest on 9/11. The airlines, NYPD and Fire, and the workers from the twin towers. When each found out that Bin Laden was killed it brought home the reason why we should have never given up the hunt for Bin Laden under Bush.  The people who died, the thousands who were affected, those people deserved the justice his death brought. Sorry, but I just couldn’t turn the other cheek on this one.

The moment when Don told the pilot on his flight, a United flight, was when I started crying and didn’t stop until the credits. That moment took me back to 9/11 and the week of endless news, culminating in the service at the National Cathedral in Washington on Friday. I remember a country united, and now a decade later we are country as divided as we were during the civil war. What happened to us?

That is what Newsroom asks, in its pilot Will says “we aren’t the greatest country, but we can be again”.

How do we get back there?

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