Monday, 23 July 2012

TV Review: The Newsroom Season 1 Episode 3 "The 112th Congress"

'The Newsroom' is one of the most promising new shows around at the minute. With a great cast and interesting stories to tell, its phenomenal writing team led by the incomparable Aaron Sorkin have the potential to make this show into absolute must-watch television.

This episode chronicles the aftermath of the shake-up of News Night over the course of 6 months. The story is framed from the perspective of a meeting which Charlie Skinner has been called to by his ACN bosses to discuss what has happened over the past months at News Night, as each incident is referred to in the meeting the audience is then shown the events of the night.

This was easily the best episode of the show yet; finally the entire cast is featured for the first time as Jane Fonda makes her debut as ACN owner Leona Lansing. The scenes with Will and the staff of News Night were extremely strong and the passing of time allowed for a great deal of character development to occur in a relatively small amount of screen time. What is also evidently better this week is the pacing of the episode, with so much room to move around in in regards to the time setting the characters are each given equally entertaining stories rather than any of them having to be relegated to a minor supporting story.

Alison Pill is great as the very relatable character of Maggie.

‘The Newsroom’ has one of the most incredible casts in television. Jeff Daniels is superb as Will McAvoy, he has really shown how capable he is at combining a dramatic role with comedic undertones whilst also demonstrating his ability to lead a series like this, which is a difficult thing to do considering his talented co-workers. Sam Waterston apart from being fantastic as Charlie Skinner always has a laugh out loud line every episode, he doesn’t disappoint this week when his outburst as Skinner (who I’m not sure is entirely mentally in check) is pure brilliance. Jane Fonda’s appearance in this episode was handled perfectly in my opinion, she is shown sitting in darkness throughout the meeting and never says a word for the first 50 of the shows 60-minute runtime. However when she begins to speak at the closing of the episode she delivers a lengthy speech with the refinement and magnetism that is natural to her, she is incredible during this scene and pretty much steals the entire episode in the closing moments, her character is very interesting and should prove to be a very worthy adversary to the team of Will, MacKenzie and Charlie. I’m not going to go into as much detail with the rest of the cast but I will mention a few standouts this episode including the actress who I think has done tremendous work over her career and still has much more to offer, Alison Pill, and also an actress who has impressed me with her work in this show despite the fact I honestly never gave her much of a chance, Olivia Munn.

Fonda steals the episode.

The true jewel in the crown of ‘The Newsroom’ though is Aaron Sorkin’s writing. Sorkin has a legendary reputation as one of the most ingenious, witty and original writers of the past 20 years, when a man has written television shows such as ‘The West Wing’, ‘Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip’ and ‘Sports Night’ as well as films like ‘A Few Good Men’, ‘The Social Network’ and ‘Moneyball’ as far as I’m concerned he can retire a legend, but to continue crafting such great scripts like those present in this show, the man has to be commended. Both his own writing and that of his contributors have defined ‘The Newsroom’ already, through its showing of the inner workings of a cable news show it makes comment on everything from politics to television ratings (which in themselves are a form of politics) and in my opinion presents a magnificently intelligent viewpoint on world events over the past 2 years.

I’ve said before that this show is intelligent and I meant it, when watching it don’t be ashamed that you feel like you are watching people with much higher IQ’s than yourself have a conversation, this is common in Sorkin’s writing. The great thing about this show is that even though it is incredibly smart it demonstrates this subtly and effectively making it less about showing off someone’s writing prowess and more about the intellectual capacity of the characters on screen.

A perfectly cast Sam Waterston.

There isn’t much more to say about ‘The Newsroom’, it’s an extremely intelligent show with a stunning cast showing the best of what television has to offer. My advice is check out this episode as a test to see if the show is for you as it best embodies the pace, tone and humour of the show as a whole. If you like politically influenced drama with intelligent humour and relatable characters then you’re missing out if you don’t watch this show.

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