The Newsroom Review: Breaking the Non-News

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I apologize if this review of The Newsroom is a few minutes late.

But I just had to go back and rewatch Maggie's speech about God allegedly talking to Michele Bachmann about a dozen times. Because (I'm sorry, I try to avoid political or religious talk here, I really do, and I know this will likely get me in trouble, but...) it was word perfect in every way.

It's depressing that someone who made such a statement actually got as far as Bachmann did in the election, and even more depressing that no journalist hit her with the rational, logical, Catholic-defending line of question that Maggie posed here. It was just terrific, even if it was Aaron Sorkin at his soap box-iesh.

Sometimes the guy is just right.

MacKenzie and Will

Rant over, allow me return to "The Blackout Part 1: Tragedy Porn," easily the best episode of The Newsroom to date. Let's count the reasons why:

  1. MacKenzie showed a backbone. She stood up for what she believed to be right, it was the Mac we saw on the premiere, not the Mac we've been presented with since, who can't send an email or count without using her fingers.
  2. Yes, her storyline was still couched in pining over Will and the return of her ex-boyfriend. But at least that addition was used to shed negative light on Will. It opened him up. It moved that relationship forward. The few moments at the therapist's office - from the great diagnosis of trying to hold one's hand over the candle to Will's reaction when told he was hurting MacKenzie to Lonnie cracked me up - were very well done.
  3. The armchair quarterbacking had a purpose outside of... mere armchair quarterbacking. The episode didn't just take a major world event, such as last week's ode to killing Osama bin Laden, and use the benefit of hindsight to manipulate viewer emotion or tell us how it should have been covered. The use of non-fiction such as Anthony Wiener's wiener instead revealed insight into Maggie, while the Nancy Grace tutorial was more of a general swipe the tabloid journalism -- and what a great swipe it was, giving the talking head credit for just how she tailors her broadcast to gain ratings, while of course scoffing at the existence of such a person and program.
  4. Seriously, who doesn't love some Nancy Grace bashing?
  5. Storylines were furthered outside of News Night just reporting on actual events across the globe. Charlie's NSA mole and his information about Atlantis is interesting because it's new. I don't know how this tale will end, which is a welcome, stark contrast to issues such as BP and Gabrielle Giffords.
  6. How great has Olivia Munn been as Sloan?
  7. There was real tension here. There was MacKenzie versus Will and Charlie versus Leona, along with the intriguing debate of ethics versus business and when it's okay to sacrifice the former for the latter. Too often, The Newsroom manufactures tension - most notably the forced romantic banter between Maggie and Jim - but that wasn't the case this week.

This was the first installment of the season I can say without equivocation that I simply loved. It was snappy, it was funny, it impressively combined the real world with the imaginary one and, once again, it slammed Nancy Grace. What more could you ask for?

The Blackout Part 1: Tragedy Porn Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (161 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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