Monday, July 23, 2012

The Newsroom Episode 5 "Amen"

“The Newsroom” continues to be excellent when it focuses on covering the news, and fairly dismal when it focuses on anything else.

Sometimes a show will “jump the shark’ after years on the air. “The Newsroom” jumped the shark on Episode 1 and has jumped the shark on every episode since.  (I just love saying “jumped the shark.”  Thank you, “The Newsroom”, for giving me the opportunity to say it over and over.)

So what implausible off-the-wall stuff happened this week?

There was an epidemic of injuries.  Elliott, the ACN 10 pm anchor, (Will anchors at 9pm) gets his wounds honorably, going out into the streets of Egypt to report on the uprising.  All the others were injured because they are morons. Jim needs a few stitches to his head because he walks into a glass door. Twice. Neal gets very upset about the news he is seeing on a monitor, so he punches the monitor, breaking a few bones. Don tries to break a down a door by ramming it with his shoulder.  (he fails, but ow, that hurts.) And these are all supposed to be really smart people, smart enough to work for the second-highest top-rated news show. I’d hate to see what happens to the ones who work on the fifth-rated show. Do they broadcast directly from the hospital?

McKensey is the best executive producer in the business, but she knows absolutely nothing about economics. Nonetheless, she agreed to appear on a panel discussion about economics.  (Smart move, Mckensey.)  Dr. Sloan has to tutor her.  And us. The whole point of these scenes provide an opportunity for the show to lecture America about the Glass-Speigal Act.  (Actually, I learned something, so thanks, but isn’t this supposed to be an entertainment show.)

And what would “The Newsroom“ be without the antics of the lovelorn and love -addicted. It’s Valentines Day, and so there will be lots of raving on the subject of love on the floor of the newsroom. The “raver-in-chief “ is Margaret, of course, who delivers an extended speech about the importance of Valentine’s Day.  This is followed up, in case we missed the point, by another hysterical lecture on the importance of Valentine' Day. This time it comes from Margaret’s roommate, Lisa, who doesn’t even work in the newsroom, but is dating (or maybe just sleeping with) Jim.

 And while we are on the theme of love, McKensey has to dump her new beau, Wade, because apparently Wade was only dating her so he could get guest appearances on the show in support of his upcoming run for Congress. Poor McKensey, the really, really smart MacKensey, was duped; she knew nothing about his plans to be a candidate for Congress. But there is a happy eneding---Mckensey is so broken-hearted that she falls into Will’s arms.  Will embraces her, suggesting that the rift between them may be mending.

One more overwrought plot point.  At the beginning of the show, everyone is talking about the movie “Rudy.”  This movie is about a college football player who sits on the bench for four years, and never once gets to play. It’s the last game of the last season, and he is not on the roster. Every player on the team, one by one, goes into the coach’s office and volunteers to have this luckless bench-warmer take his place in the game.  (All together now, Awww!)   

At the end of the show, we learn why the writers put the “Rudy” story into the show.  An Egyptian stringer, Amen, (pronounced Ah-min, but still sufficient for some amen puns) who was talked into providing on-the-ground reports on the Egyptian uprising for the show, has been kidnapped.  Will secretly pays the ransom, $250,000, but the staff discovers his act of good-guy-ness. Everyone in the newsroom lines up, and one by one, they walk into Will’s office and place a check on his desk to help defray the expense of the ransom.  (All together now:  Awww!  Okay, I admit it—it brought a little lump to my throat.)

That’s five sharks and I left a few out.
What “The Newsroom” does best, and the main reason, I watch the show, is cover the news, and in the process give us the fly-on-the wall view of what happens when there is “breaking news”. In the first episode, it was the BP oil spill. In Episode Two, it was the Arizona immigration bill; in Episode Three, it was the Times Square bomber, the Tea Party and Election night 2010; in Episode Four it was the Gabby Giffords’ shooting. In this episode it is the revolution in Egypt and the protests over union- busting by Scott Walker in Wisconsin.
My advice to “The Newsroom”:  Focus on the news.  And get some new writers for everything else.