Monday, November 10, 2014

The Newsroom “Boston” #301 "The Redemption Tour"

"The Redemption Tour"
Olivia Munn and Alison Pill
Olivia Munn and Alison Pill

by Catherine Giordano

The premiere episode of the third season of “The Newsroom” made me think that the show runners have been reading my posts. Episode 301 that aired on November 10, 2014 focused on the Boston Marathon attack of April 2013.

It was very interesting to see the behind-the scenes action as the fictional news station ACN covered the bombing from start to finish. Having been burned by last season’s “Genoa” story where they got it terribly wrong, the newsroom proceeded very carefully with the story. It served them well. The redeemed their reputation as a reliable news channel.
Long Mile Home
While they may have been the last to drop their regular programming to begin covering the Boston Marathon story, they got it right while other stations made errors rushing stories to air before they we vetted. This episode showed the pressure that news stations are under—it is important to be first with the story, but it is important to get it right. Sometimes those two mandates collide.
The episode also showed the importance of traditional journalism. As the story unfolded, there were a lot of predictions that this would be the first major event solved by social media. It did not turn out to be true. Social media tried, but crowd sourcing the news engendered more problems than it solved. Case in point, men that social media identified as suspects began to receive death threats. They had absolutely nothing to do with the bombing. It was the professionals who found the culprits.

Will McCoy (played by Jeff Daniels) the news anchor at ACN summed it up nicely: “The FBI and the police did a great job. They found two needles in a haystack the size of the world in just four days.” 

The main sub plot featured Sloan Sabbith (played by Olivia Munn), the financial reporter for the station. By studying economic data she realized that CAN was about to become the target of a hostile takeover. This sub plot reinforced the message of the main plot—the painstaking study of data and facts is the way to uncover plots.  

The only romance story of the evening was in the very beginning of the episode. Will McCoy and his executive producer and fiancée, MacKenzie McHale (played by Emily Mortimer) were bickering about their upcoming wedding. Mackenzie wanted nine bridesmaids, but Will thought it was a little excessive because he did not want to have nine groomsmen. In the middle of this argument, the bombing occur in Boston and there is no more talk about weddings. Except in the middle of the show, Will says he cannot survive “without being married to this woman.” A bit over the top which only goes to show why the show must stay away from personal relationships.  

The show goes over the top a few time when both Charlie Skinner (played by Sam Waterston), the president of the news division, and Will make histrionic speeches to the newsroom. There’s a crisis going on and they are making grandiose speeches. The speeches trail off when the characters realize they look ridiculous. Apparently, the producer of The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin, has a point to make and the only way to do it is to put the words in the mouths of his characters no matter how foolish it makes them look. 

Another subplot concerned the redemption of Margaret Jordan (played by Allison Pill), an executive producer who had quite a few public meltdowns, personally and professionally, in the previous seasons. The Newsroom is caught short-staffed so Margaret is sent to Boston to cover the investigation of the bombings. When the anchor is sidelined by an allergic reaction, Margaret, who has been doing a great job as a producer, must go on camera. She acquits herself well in both roles. 

I’m hoping that Season three, which is scheduled for only six episodes is planned as the redemption tour. The Newsroom wants to go out as a serious show and not the unintentional comedy of errors that it was for the past two seasons.
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