First half of the last season of The Newsroom

I’ve been a bit more busy then I had anticipated and so have not reviewed each episode individually as I had hoped to do. Instead you’ll here get a combined review of the first half of the season, and then we will see how it goes from there.

The short version is this: I like the season overall but the third episode felt underwhelming. The interesting plot-lines were at times handled in a good and at times in a bad manner. To make the rest of this article more pleasant to read, lets start with the good before we get to the bad.

They manage to ramp up the tension in natural way, we go from the “Genoa”-debacle in the previous season to espionage and threats of life in prison in this one. It doesn’t feel forced, they’ve built up Neal as the kind of character who would be involved in something like this throughout the entire show. That he of all people in the cast would be the one to get hold of classified documents doesn’t feel like something pulled from someone’s ass. Imagine if it had been Don or Hallie instead, that would have made less sense.

Furthermore, I like that they’re gonna let Will play hero, maybe it’s a bit cheesy but somehow it works. It makes me think of this one moment in season one, when Will was talking with Nina Howard in a bar, and she was trying to blackmail him. It seems like someone posted a clip on Youtube of the exact moment right here. In both that case and with the whole FBI-coming-after-Neal thing, Will comes of as someone who wants to take the easy way out, but just can’t.

I mean look at him, he is clearly an establishment type who wants things to go smoothly and doesn’t really want to go against conventional wisdom. He is in no way a born rebel. But beneath all that he sticks to a few core principles, standing up for them when challenged, however reluctantly. He won’t hold the line gladly, he’ll bitch and moan about how he wish it was otherwise but he’ll still hold the damn line. There’s some character depth for you, right there.

The other major plot development that looks like it will play out throughout the entire season is the hostile takeover of the network owning ACM. This part I’m a bit more hesitant to praise just yet. If it’s just a way to give Leona Lansing something to do then fine, I can deal with that. That could be entertaining, her and Charlie’s interactions work well. But I am hoping for something more, and the way they’ve set up Leona’s financial troubles and how she handles them in a weird wake makes me nervous, it looks like something that’s easy to mess up. Seriously, getting four billion dollars or however much it was isn’t something that should be portrayed as anything other than a big deal. It’s equivalent to having one of the richest people in the world give you about 10% of his/her wealth.

And while we’re speaking of the strengths of this show, I gotta mention McKenzie. Emily Mortimer’s character is great, that really is all there is to it. She is both funny, interesting, and really likable, I know that for example people like those over at What the Flick don’t like her but for some reason the character works for me. She isn’t really all that realistic, obviously people rarely act like that in real life but this is television, the whole point of a show like this is to show off entertaining characters and while she doesn’t act like someone I will ever meet she sure acts like someone I would like to meet. I hope she keeps being as involved as possible in the last three episodes of the show.

Having mentioned her and Will I also have to mention the wedding. I really hope we miss the wedding or that it’s done as a short epilogue at the end, we only have three hours left and there are more important things to deal with before the season ends. Making the FBI stop chasing you is not something you can do in a hurry, and since it looks like McAvoy will perhaps be arrested there will be drama enough to handle without us having to watch them walk down the aisle while Maggie and Jim bicker in the background.

That’s it for the good parts and the parts that are sort of in the middle. There are, however, like I said also a few things that have been bothering me with this season that I have to mention. Let’s start with Sloan and Don. They seem to be having the kind of relationship drama that has been plaguing this show from the beginning, and we could do without it, at least the way it is currently portrayed. Now the writers are just having them trying and failing at hiding their relationship and playing it for laughs. I want them to stop it and focus on the good parts of the show.

There’s also the way they chased of the FBI in the last episode by threatening to videotape them. I know nothing about the FBI but I have a feeling there is no way that would happen,ever. Compare to when the British equivalent of the FBI raided The Guardian a year ago or whenever it was, that didn’t work out well for the journalists. The UK is of course a different country, but it seems possible that the stunt the ACN crew pulled in the last episode would have gotten them all beaten and handcuffed, and their cameras smashed. And even if the trick they pulled would have worked in real life it still shouldn’t have worked in the show, because it makes the threat they’re facing seem less menacing.

That’s all for now, but the next episode is airing in less than 48 hours so hopefully I’ll be back soon.

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