In tonight’s season three premiere of The Newsroom, Will McAvoy is in rare form. He’s stumbling over his own words, clumsily constructing his usual diatribes of righteousness. With Will off his game, the rest of the staff picks him up and an ACN that fell apart after the Genoa scandal is as well oiled of a machine as its ever been.
Series creator and head scribe Aaron Sorkin is cognizant of the criticisms swirling around his passion project and knocking Will down a few pegs, if only briefly, was a clever way of showing he would make good on his promise to “start over” in season three.
As we close the door on The Newsroom with this final 6-episode run, Sorkin opens with a premiere that at least initially relies on covering “old news,” albeit at a more enjoyable pace. The episode doesn’t really pick up until the final few minutes when all the arcs—Neal’s inducing of a felony, the climax of the Boston bombing manhunt and a possible hostile takeover at ACN—crash together on a breezing balcony high atop New York.
I’m hopeful this could be a much stronger season, but then again, I said the same thing last year and was disappointed when the Genoa arc unraveled. The first 50-plus minutes gave me the impression that Sorkin did have one more solid story left to tell. “Boston” closes with a unified news team ready to head into battle and another sign that Sorkin is invested in making peace with The Newsroom.
“We’re not in the middle of the third act.” Will squawks as when he’s regained his inspirational mojo. “We just got to the first.”
For extended thoughts on The Newsroom, I wrote a longer feature on what to expect in the new season and the show’s legacy.
It’s well documented that Sorkin is a big softie. The Newsroom has been dominated by the “will they, won’t they” type romantic storylines, most notably between Will and Mac. The episode picks up where The Most Awkward Kiss in TV History left off, with Will and Mac already battling over wedding plans. That’s really the extent of the prodding into that relationship as Sorkin needed to stick closely to laying out this season’s major storyline. Don and Sloan are two alpha dogs humping these days and it seems that’s the one relationship that Sorkin will toy with over the course of the season. In other relationship news, Jim Harper seemed to have gotten his girlfriend, Hallie Shea, a job. I liked her better when she was a Jim Harper hater.
We know The Newsroom’s fate, so Sorkin Watch is going to be a little different this year. The big news this week is Sorkin said he’s likely leaving TV altogether after News Night signs off. He also said The West Wing was his only successful show by traditional measures. I think he deserves a pass for Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip since both were cancelled prematurely.
Most of you reading this review are fans of The Newsroom. However, factions of Newsroom watchers are hatewatchers. Our Sorkin Hate Mail of the Week comes from a Salon writer who went straight for Sorkin’s jugular: “The Newsroom is everything that is wrong with national debate in America.” Alright!
Jim Harper Watch:
The real tragic hero of this show is Jim Harper. In the premiere, Jim disappears, putting his head down to go do great journalism. I respect that but I need my Jim Harper fix. They’re misusing the best character on the show if he doesn’t get his own arc. Or spinoff. Until then, you can find my reviews by searching #FreeJimHarper.
Since HBO gave critics access to the first three episodes, I’ll try not to spoil anything in this section. But I will say this: I thought the premiere was one of the series’ most enjoyable episodes, until I saw episode two. I’ll have more thoughts on the second episode immediately following the episode so make sure to check back with us next week.