The Newsroom Season 1, Episode 4 Discussion

Throughout the first season of HBO’s new series The Newsroom, a few of our writers will analyze and discuss each episode in detail. Beware of spoilers.

For other episode discussions, check our pop culture page.

Greg Kaplan: We’re down Vinny Ginardi and his opinion this week, which actually scared me before we even started writing a response to this week’s episode. Usually, Vinny and I take drastically different sides on this show, and our good friend and co-writer Mike Cresci finds a middle ground between us. Then, a funny thing happened.

I actually had a lot of fun watching this week’s episode.

Seemingly for the first time this season, The Newsroom became less about the news and much more about the personal lives of all the main characters involved in the story line. Yes, obviously, news played a huge role in all of their lives and the everyday ebbs and flows each person had. We had gossip columnists going after Will and his dating life, which was brilliantly played off as the parent company setting Will up for a massive fall. Honestly, it was a terrific big reveal in a show that desperately needed something to bring members of the audience like myself back in.

I had so much fun watching this week’s episode that I’m clearly not going to get involved in the main news story that broke on News Night, which was the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Everything else that transpired in the episode was beyond necessary for the continued development of the show and the season. Furthermore, this episode took us outside the newsroom for what feels like the first time. I mean, we’ve been outside the office before, be it at a bar, walking on the street or even in Will’s apartment. However, all of those events had to do with something that was happening on the news. Never, not once, have we been fully removed from news on the show before this week’s episode. We got glimpses of personal lives and story lines that are rich and dynamic in their own right.

Honestly, for this show to be successful, we need to see more of that. Just because the show is called The Newsroom doesn’t mean we need to be hit with news every second of the script. This time, we got real stories of life, not just news stories.

Michael Cresci:  I think one of the reasons you feel this way is because the shooting of Congresswoman Gifford isn’t a divisive topic.  I mean guns are divisive (I’m a stinking liberal who is anti-second amendment and even I was turned on by Will flipping that gun around) but in general most people can agree the News Night was in the right for not wanting to make a premature death call.  The lack of Sorkin style preaching definitely opened the show up and revealed the sweet core that’s underneath all the controversy.

This workplace is a genuinely fun place to visit every week and there’s enough romance for guilty pleasure (though Will revealed he considers chocolate and The Archies to be guilty pleasures) and some really fun characterization.  The Bigfoot plot was funny but perhaps a bit overdone.  There was a point when the joke started to lose its luster but Dev Patel managed to keep it from tanking via great delivery.  Jeff Daniels continues to amaze with the balancing act he pulls off as Will.  Will is simultaneously the shows funniest character and most emotionally interesting.  His relationship with Mackenzie doesn’t feel overwrought for me and I think the dynamic of them openly arguing about their relationship (and everyone knowing their pas) is actually really interesting and different from what we’re used to seeing.  I thought their past would come out slowly over the season but Sorkin got it out their in the second episode and used it as a jumping off point.

One last thing I want to throw to you Greg.  Who is your breakout character/actor so far?  The person who’s really surprised you?  For me it’s Allison Pill as Maggie.  Her delivery and her insanely expressive face often cracks me up and I’m just absolutely taken with her.  Who’s yours?

GK: I’m actually really enjoying Thomas Sadoski as Don. Sorkin has written his character into the plot of the show very well thus far. Don’t get me wrong, I think just about everyone is rooting for Maggie and Jim to finally get together. But, at the same time, every week I want to see what Don is up to. He has a solid foundation and is such a sarcastic douche that I look forward to all of his exchanges between Maggie, Jim and Will.

I’ve also talked about how I dig Dev Patel’s character Neil. You touched on the Bigfoot joke almost getting overplayed, but it felt very real. We’ve all had debates and conversations we refuse to give up (you and I have had a couple, this much I know for sure). We beat them into the ground until you become so sick of hearing about it that you start to avoid the other person. The fact that this particular debate was about Bigfoot and it took away from the otherwise seriousness of the show, I really enjoyed it.

I’ll tell you the character I’m dying to see more of. I need more Sloan. We’re slowly starting to see Olivia Munn play a more prominent role on the show, and she’s an episode or two from a breakout. She played a really funny wing-man for Will this week, so much so that her follies became the reasons why Will started showing up on covers of gossip magazines. Who in this show do you think you need to see more of, young Michael?

MC: My answer is going to be boring because I totally agree.  Don and Sloan are the two characters I’d like to see alot more of.  Putting aside the fact that Olivia Munn looks like…well, Olivia Munn…I also really enjoy her comic timing (NBC’s short lived Perfect Couples  featured her in a funny role).  Don on the other hand gives you every reason to hate him and then once in awhile proves to be a decent guy.  I’m definitely interested to see how prominent he remains in the wake of Jim and Maggie’s eventual coupling.

I thought this was probably the show’s strongest episode thus far and I’ve really enjoyed the series.  It’s received heaps and heaps of criticism and maybe I’m just a sucker for Sorkin but I’ve found a lot to like here.    Say what you will, but Sorkin knows how to write a snappy line.  I’m excited for what lies ahead.

One thought on “The Newsroom Season 1, Episode 4 Discussion

  1. I think Olivia Munn is Leona’s mole/rat/pawn in the office. She sets up Will with all these women that end up trying to destroy his reputation. It’s something to look for in the future.

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