The Newsroom Season 2 Episode 1 review
What another great show from HBO. I'm already a huge fan of Game of Thrones, and The Sopranos is a classic. In my opinion, The Newsroom is almost as good as those shows. It is an in-depth look at the world of big-time journalism on television, and it is fascinating.
I won't detail too much from the first season, because I really recommend viewing of the entire show. However I will catch you up. Our main character is Will McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels. He is a seasoned television news anchor who is sarcastically bitter and quite the multi-dimensional character. His ex-girlfriend, MacKenzie, played by Emily Mortimer, is the manager of the floor while their show is running. The show takes place a couple of years ago, where Will, MacKenzie and the rest of their crew cover big events we recall from history such as the Osama Bin Ladin death, while we see the struggles of their personal lives. There are a lot of characters in the cast, yet it always balances well and comes off as very dramatic, yet has many funny moments.
Season 2 starts off with a lawyer confronting Will about a controversial comparison he made on the air at the end of Season 1 (no spoiler). Then we flash back to 14 months prior to get a little set-up for how everyone has been since Season 1. There is a couple months between seasons and 14 months between the story now, and the lawyer confrontation. It comes off a little confusing, but it evens out by the end of the episode. We see Will struggle with being told by his boss Charlie, played by Law and Order's Sam Waterson, that Will cannot be the anchor of the 9/11 anniversary coverage, in light of what he said at the end of Season 1. The head of the company and Charlie's boss, Leona, played by Jane Fonda, is still angry by Will's actions with the show and continues to threaten his career. So it pains Charlie to have to protect Will like this, because they are friends, yet Will is in deep trouble.
We also get other developments from other crew members. Neal, played by Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel, goes undercover to get the scoop on the new Occupy Wall Street movement. We get a lot of brilliant commentary on the Occupy Wall Street group and its beliefs through their conversations. This is one of the show's greatest strengths, its commentary on previous events. Last season we had the Bin Ladin death, we had the election coverage and many more. The dialogue and reactions we see from the characters is great to watch, because it already happened and is gone in our world, so we can relate to what went on and how we reacted, because we are seeing it all again while not current. It is fascinating to watch and really enjoyable.
Unfortunately we also get a big problem brought over from Season 1 into this episode: the complicated romance between Maggie and Jim. These 2 need to get it together. The story is dragging this plot thread out way too much. How they are dating other people, how they love each other and won't admit it, how annoying it all really is to watch. Jim is a pretty good character, but Allison is the worst character on the show. She is annoying, whiny and sometimes downright mean. It also doesn't help that there is no angle of her character that you want to relate to.
However, every other recurring character give great performances. Will in my opinion is a perfect main character for a show. We want to root for him and are on his side throughout the show, when he is serious and when he is funny. However he is a very flawed character. He has made many mistakes and we see the regret he has, yet he never whines and complains a lot about it. He shows it through his expressions and reactions, yet never overreacts. He is the perfect balance of a character. He has had a lot of dramatic moments through the show, and his conversation with Charlie about the 9/11 coverage is rough to watch, but it is very well done. However, Will is also really funny. There is a particular musical moment he has at his desk that is absolutely hysterical for anyone that remembers the reference.
As I said, the rest of the cast (except Maggie), are great. Charlie has great dry humor and gets a lot of laughs. Sloan, played by the always funny Olivia Munn, also has a lot of great moments. Her conversations with Neal are always priceless. MacKenzie, or Mac, is also very dramatic and funny. Her conflict with Will is great to watch, yet you see their feelings for each other.
I think the best part of the show though is the pacing. The stories move at a brisk pace, as does the dialogue. The jokes come at a great speed and the writing is always well done. This is a very well-written show.
Overall, I love The Newsroom. Most of the characters are fantastic, the stories are always engaging and the drama and humor nail bullseyes. Hopefully the Jim Allison story gets better so this show can be the perfect package like Game of Thrones. Then HBO will have at least 2 perfect shows running now.
I give The Newsroom Season 2 Episode 1 a brisk 4.5 out of 5.