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The Newsroom Review: More Love Than Hate

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After a tumultuous first season that was as talked about as it was criticized, The Newsroom returned for season two with "The First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All the Lawyers"

I had a love/hate relationship with The Newsroom season 1 and, yes, sometimes it felt like there was more hate than love. That's only because I'm a fan of Aaron Sorkin's work and when it falls short it's even more disappointing.

Newsroom Season 2 Premiere Pic

But I'm watching The Newsroom Season 2 with realistic expectation of improvement. And so far I'm satisfied. 

The first episode opened with the ACN staff being deposed by $1,500-an-hour attorney Rebecca Halliday played by Marcia Gay Harden. Apparently Will and his crew made some questionable journalistic decisions when covering a story concerning a black ops mission. It garnered them record breaking ratings but also landed them in plenty of hot water.

This looks to be a season-long arc, which could bode well for the show as season one's weekly stories frequently felt like they were chosen via a dart throwing contest. 

One of my biggest complaints last season was Sorkin's portrayal of his female characters. His attempts at quirky comedy fell so short that MacKenzie came across as klutzy and inept and Maggie was almost unwatchable.

There's definitely been improvement here. Mac was in complete control of her newsroom, other than Will ignoring her prompt during an on-air debate. She also said something stupid while not realizing she was on speaker phone but I can forgive those human moments if I'm convinced she's actually a confident professional who deserves her job and I saw evidence of that in this season premiere.

Maggie's an entirely different story. She may be farther out on the ledge than she was last season but as long as there's a story line to back that up, it could end up being compelling TV. All we know currently is that she went on assignment in Uganda and something terrible happened, leaving her so messed up that she chopped off her hair and dyed it orange. I'm definitely intrigued.

Maggie's state of mind could play into the current story in more ways than one, as Attorney Halliday told Will in this The Newsroom quote

 She better get unmessed up in a hurry because she's a character witness and she looks like the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. | permalink

In flashbacks we began to see how the dominos fell that led to ACN's legal nightmare and how the personal and professional relationships have progressed.

After being rejected by Maggie, Jim jumped a bus to Nashua to cover the Romney campaign for a couple of weeks. Anyone who has had a workplace relationship go bad could feel for Jim as he all but begged Mac to send him away on assignment just to get some space between him and Maggie.

Don was working on being a good boyfriend. Where I disliked Don last season, he actually made me believe he was trying for all the right reasons this time around. That was, until Maggie's evil cousin sent him a YouTube video of her confession to Jim on the street. 

For Don, it was almost a relief to know the truth because he'd been believing he was the bad guy for not being in love with Maggie. Unfortunately, where Don is set free, this may be the beginning of Maggie's downward spiral.

Will this open the door for a Don/Sloan hookup? Perhaps, but if it does I hope they take their time getting there. 

Neil's gotten in on the ground floor of the Occupy Wall Street movement and this could be yet another story arc for the season. I'm fairly certain I'll be equally entertained and frustrated by the show's preachy hindsight on this issue.

Sam Waterston proved once again why he's one of my favorite actors, as Charlie appeared to have unique chemistry with every character with whom he he shared scenes.

And finally we get back to Will and Mac, the show's power couple that's not quite a couple and tends to stall out more than power through. 

Again in flashbacks we saw Will feeling the sting of comparing the Tea Party to the Taliban after being kicked off of ACN's September 11 anniversary coverage.  Mac was on the other end of the phone at midnight to hear his tail of woe as he sulked and smoked way too many cigarettes. 

Will these two ever act like the adults they're suppose to be and confront their feelings for one another? I'd like to think so... but I refuse to get my hopes up as the show's history has given us male/female relationships reminiscent of junior high. I'm not naive enough to expect that to change any time soon.

But that's The Newsroom. It has quick witty dialogue, a talented cast and smart stories coupled with arrogant, preachy lectures and the slant of 20/20 hindsight. It is in equal turns incredibly frustrating and wonderfully entertaining. Here's to cautious optimism that I'll feel more love than hate for season 2.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.4 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (70 Votes)

C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.

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I never understood all the criticisms from season 1. I feel the show got picked on simply because it was a Sorkin show. Was it perfect, no. But it was still one of the smartest, most entertaining shows on TV. I'm reluctant to see what the changes will be in S2. So far, I'm not sure I'm on board with the season long arc about the screw up. We spent all of S1 watching Will recover from his meltdown and the team try to 'right the ship' and do the program they want. And now they've screwed it all up and I feel like we're back to the beginning. Guess we'll see how it goes from here!

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I would like Clarissa Ward (or someone like her) to replace Mortimer. The writing is smart but not everyone has to talk fast. It's Sunday night. Think of The Good Wife. And lastly, not everyone has to be miserable or at best, indifferent.

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I loved season 1 and have all ten episodes on dvr. It is smart and funny. The whole point of those episodes was to see how a bunch of newbies would work together. Brain candy...So much better than "reality tv shows"

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Very happy that MacKenzie came across as more professional but Maggie is still a hot mess. Not sure about the new black ops or Occupy Wall Street stories but we'll see how it goes. Happy to have the show back for another season.

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You know what's sad? Being just satisfied with a Sorkin Tv show. I wish I were. Maybe the taste of Season One still lingers with me. I didn't think it was all that much improved from last season. I do get that people can act irrationally at the workplace due to relationship troubles, but the amount of irrational behavior in the newsroom really hardens back to junior high. How do some of these people still have jobs? And that crack about how comparing the Tea Party to the Taliban? Sorkin can be preachy and sanctimonious, but that crossed a line. And I'm not a tea partier.

The Newsroom Season 2 Episode 1 Quotes

She better get unmessed up in a hurry because she's a character witness and she looks like the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Halliday

Halliday: What happened to her hair?
Will: I don't know. Women try things.

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