How The Newsroom got its groove back
‘The Newsroom’ brings us laughs and drama this week … but is it enough to redeem the show before the final curtain falls?
This post is another Guest Clack from Brandon Coulson. Check out his thoughts on last weeks’ The Newsroom here.
This week’s episode of The Newsroom was engaging, funny, and clever. It was one of the most well-balanced episodes of the series and my personal favorite of the season so far. The main focus this week was the continuing drama over a government source’s leak of classified documents and the legal ramifications. There are also several B plots this week, nicely handled without diverting our focus from the main story.
We also have the continuing story of ACN’s financial woes and Charlie Skinner’s attempts to secure an investor. Said investor is played by another NBC sitcom alum, B.J. Novak, as billionaire and obsessive control freak Lucas Pruitt. While their interaction is brief, it’s fun to see. Pruitt is presented here as a micro manager extraordinaire, and Skinner’s character, not being one to bow to authority, plays off this beautifully. I only hope we get more of this pairing for the rest of the season.
Then for our third NBC cameo of the night we have Paul Lieberstein (The Office’s Toby, and a producer on The Newsroom!) as the acting head of the EPA, Richard Westbrook. Well, sort of acting head … it’s complicated. He has a great scene here as a doom-and-gloom official being interviewed by Will McAvoy. He proposes that the current state of climate change is irreversible and we are all doomed to die horrible, horrible deaths even as Will tries to redirect him to a softer position he holds strongly and is hilarious in his responses. Lieberstein uses the same deadpan delivery that made his character on The Office so fun to watch.
Strange that one of the most enjoyable episodes of The Newsroom is one of the funniest. The show makes a point to be “about” something. Each episode tries to make a statement and quite often it overshadows the character development. While there were still the serious moments you’ve come to expect from the show, the humor was the highlight this week. The exception was one scene when Will McAvoy is being questioned along with his producers and legal counsel by a federal investigator. The scene is a back and forth leading up to a fantastic rant by McAvoy. Definitely the “Sorkin” moment of the episode, this speech actually comes off as natural and doesn’t feel as forced as they usually do.
Aside from a couple of moments, there were great performances and the show seems to be having fun again. If the writers can keep a balance of humorous side stories to counter-balance the heavy themes of their main story the series should be able to end on a very strong note. By streamlining to just a few B plots, possibly focusing on just the Don/Sloan story, the week to week craziness of a newsroom, and dropping the Jim storyline, The Newsroom just might end as strongly as Sorkin fans, myself included, had hoped it would be from day one.