Oh man. A show with so much promise, some first rate actors, some interesting characters and a star writer, how on Earth could it end so limply? I loved the first season, I enjoyed the second season in the main and even season three started off well but the final three episodes just sucked.
Let me start at the killing of Charlie Skinner at the end of episode five of this season, why Sorkin, why? I know you’ve explained why but once more I ask, why Sorkin, why? The Newsroom revolved around Skinner and the acting masterclass that Sam Waterston put on. I loved him in Law & Order and loved him just as much as the bourbon drinking head honcho at ACN. He didn’t need to die and the way he killed him was just so mundane and didn’t give him the gravitas that he deserved if he was to meet his demise.
So the final episode explored some of the back stories that put the cast together, we’ve seen this before from Sorkin. At the start of season two of The West Wing we saw a wonderful two-parter (In the Shadow of Two Gunmen) that showed how everyone came together. This time though it didn’t set up a season, it ended a shows run and it didn’t actually add too much to the storyline. We knew Sloane was into Don before (‘You never asked me’) and we knew Mac was dealing with issues from Afghanistan. We find out that Jim has had a bad long-distance (45 mins away by car) relationship before (thus setting up the Jim/Maggie ending) and we find out that Charlie is a true gent who wants to do the news right (er…we knew this already) and that Will cares about ratings and what people thought about him (again we knew that already) so is all seriousness for all the flashbacks we learnt that Jim has had a bad history in semi long-distance relationships. So worth it.
This brings me on to the most disgraceful part of the episode, the return of Neal (seriously dude, spell your name right, like all good Neil’s). Neal missed most of the season hiding out in Venezuela after refusing to give up a source ad what does he get after his near two months on the run? It gets announced at Charlie’s wake that his plane has landed and he gets a cool shot at the ACN Digital guys but he gets zero interaction with the rest of the crew. No pats on the back, no-one asking him how he was, nothing. Now I’m guessing this has to do with actor Dev Patel working on other projects so they just tried to shoehorn him into the episode but come on, film at least one scene where people welcome him back for fucks sake. As much as the fact he spells his name with an a instead of an i pisses me off, I loved Neal nearly as much as I loved Charlie. He reminded me of me, if only I was better looking, had better morals, was smarter…well he doesn’t remind me of me as such but his name is similar and I liked him, ok?
Mac is pregnant. Who cares? Mac gets promoted to be President of ACN without even being asked, like, for reals? Any scene with Leona is great as Jane Fonda is great. Seriously someone create a spin-off show that is just Leona and Charlie (assuming he can be resurrected from the dead) drink bourbon and bitch about the world and I’d be all over that. As would everyone who watched The Newsroom.
So we get to the finale of the most painful romance in TV history, Jim and Maggie. Jim (with whom I actually do identify in many ways despite not even being remotely close to my name) realised that he was in love with Maggie still, despite going out with Hallie (who was wonderful, if you were to possibly draw up my ‘ideal’ woman in terms of the type of person with whom I think I’d fall for then it would be Hallie, ambitious, smart, beautiful, quick-witted, sorry I’m just imagining the make-up sex with her after a fight, I’m sensing it would be amazing but I digress). So Jim and Hallie end after he is a dick (see, I told you I could relate to him) but in part it is because deep down he’s remembered his feelings for Maggie. She is seeing someone else too but he’s super smart and realises very quickly that she is hung up on Jim.
This tawdry love affair reaches a climax on a plane where they share an albeit beautiful kiss, the head stroke and smile on Maggie’s face seemed genuine and lovely. At times I can at least see romance even if I’m seemingly incapable of portraying it in real life. She finally had the one she wanted. Fast forward three days and after three nights of sex, Jim recommends her for a field producers position in DC, meaning they would have to be in a LDR (see the flashbacks did have a very small point after all) but having overcome the lazy blonde stereotype that she was in season one and after the abomination of what they did to her character in season two, she had blossomed into what we saw, a confident, smart, young woman. Hurrah. Yet here we are with her all nervous about Jim trying to ship her out of town. They end this mini-fight with her asking why he was so sure that this LDR would work when the others hadn’t and he walks away saying, ‘because I wasn’t in love with them’ – nice. A good line finally. Sadly we all know that in reality Jim would be too much of a prick for it to last and Maggie would find someone better suited in DC but we can all pretend, right? This wasn’t Josh and Donna from TWW, that love story needed no coercion, it was natural and the audience could see it and yearned for it, this was just meh.
To round this all off we of course get to Will and Mac. Mac is Will’s one. Will doesn’t care about ratings and doesn’t care about being liked deep down, that is all a mask, all he cares about is Mac and how she sees him. Mac and Will were together before but she cheated on him and he couldn’t forgive her at that point and went into years of depression that his one could do that to him. She is brought back by Charlie because he knows that the only way to turn both the show and Will around is to make him care once more and the only way to do that is to bring her in. Fair enough. It works as a storyline and we saw Will’s evolution into the character we all loved. Mac however never truly developed and her happiness came from being with Will and making him into the best person he could be. Sweet yes, but again shows how Sorkin struggles with writing female characters.
Look, don’t get me wrong, overall I enjoyed the show and Charlie and Leona were insanely good characters. Will was developed well and all three actors (Waterston, Fonda, Daniels) were first rate. Sadly though for an ensemble cast, the rest of the characters were never truly developed and this held back the show from becoming what it could have been, the acting was great but the writing concentrated too much on the holier-than-thou attitude of Sorkin towards the media (which may or may not be unfair depending on your take of the current media output that we are subjected to) but that air of arrogance held back the development of the other characters and forced relationships that didn’t sit well with the audience. It could’ve been special and when they were given six more episodes to end things then everything was set up for an epic climax, instead we got an average episode then summed up the missed chance once more that this show was.
The Newsroom 2012-2014. Loved, then liked, then watched. Sadly it won’t be terribly missed.
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