The Aaron Sorkin Circus aka The Newsroom opened its doors last night for the inaugural of Season 2. We got a new intro and something of the old music. We also got a new format. There will be a continuing story line running throughout this the second season and it would be about the trouble ACN finds itself in around the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013. For The Newsroom, that’s their present time.
From there we will flash back regularly to the events that began roughly 10 days after the close of last year’s final episode (in The Newsroom time) which was roughly the summer of 2011 and proceed forward and back as necessary.
If that sounds confusing – it really isn’t. It just takes a bit of getting used to the forward and back format. It is Sorkin doing The Newsroom in what we might call Rashomon style.
While Sorkin is the creator, writer, and show runner of The Newsroom, he’s also wearing of number of hats that we usually find at the circus. He’s a juggler, a high-wire walker, as well as the ringmaster. He’s also the side-show barker who spins fabulous tales to entice us to part with our proverbial money which in this case – is our time and money. And let’s not forget that he is also a magician who weaves history and fact into stories about fictional people. The Sorkinian Formula broken down to its simplest terms is: Truth & Fiction = Entertainment.
Okay that’s enough preamble and stalling. Let’s get to it.
Over the course of this season, the repercussions from two seminal events from last season’s last episode will be felt, and those events were:
1) News Anchorman Will McAvoy called the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party the American Taliban. And 2) Maggie Jordan had a meltdown on a New York City street as she raved and ranted about her issues – like falling in love with her best friend’s boy friend, who was also her boss, and she was still involved with another Exec Producer at ACN.
We don’t know everything yet. We will get all the blanks filled in as the story progresses this year. But what we do know so far, is that it took a series of events to occur in a specific time frame, and in a specific sequence, for News Night to find itself in its current state which is to say they’re in a world of trouble.
Soo, looking back to when McAvoy called the Tea Party the American Taliban, the first ripple from that (this season) was that Reese Lansing (The President of ACN and someone I once called The ratings Guy) was denied entrance to a Congressional Committee meeting where they were going to draft the SOPA bill. Per Leona, this would ultimately cost her billions. She’s not a happy camper, and she makes sure that Charley Skinner knows it.
When Maggie Jordan went off in the street, Jim Harper happened to be on the bus and was in a perfect place to hear everything she said. Would they finally find their way into each other’s arms? Yes they did – but only for about a half a minute’s worth of serious kissing. Maggie said she had to go and break it off with Don, and she’d call Harper later.
Only Don’s apartment had become The Apartment of 168 Romantic Candles, and all that candlepower blew Maggie’s intentions to smithereens. Harper never got the call.
So we now fast forward back to the present and we learn that an ACN guy working on the Romney Campaign broke his ankle and needed to be replaced. Harper, by now morose over the fact that Maggie and Don stayed together and within 30 feet of Harper’s desk, Maggie and Don have their daily Public Displays of Affection (PDA) which was tough for Harper to see and watch. Us too, if the truth be spoken.
Mackenzie McHale let Harper know that they needed to get someone, hopefully someone quite junior to replace the broken ankle guy. But Harper said he’d do it. Really, he just wanted to get away from Maggie.
Of course after driving all night to get from NYC to New Hampshire, Harper is denied access and a position on the campaign bus. (See the note above about the repercussions from the American Taliban comment).
Back in the City – at ACN – Harper is replaced by someone from the ACN’s DC office – one Jerry Dantana. He pitches for an on-air discussion about the drones which is an idea Mackenzie likes. Only Dantana by-passes Harper’s guy to bring in his own guy – a Cyrus West – who ruins the discussion with a motor mouth diatribe in favor of the drones. In Will’s earpiece, Mackenzie is hectoring him to rebut, to shut this fool down, and for Will ‘to get in there’.
But Will is silent. You see he is depressed because Charlie had to pull him off the upcoming 10th anniversary of 9-11 show. Charlie told Will to call in sick on 9/9 and he would use Sloan and Elliot to replace Will. Why did Charlie do this? He wanted a less controversial person for this show. Apparently Leona’s reference “The Chips are Falling” got his attention (see the above note about the American Taliban comment).
So after the broadcast – Mackenzie instructed Jerry to only use Jim Harper’s guys going forward. But Jerry is very ambitious and was looking to carve out his own niche. Ditto for Cyrus West who told Jerry that he would give him a story that would ‘make careers and end presidencies’.
This story, which we haven’t heard in detail (and we shouldn’t expect to) was about a Black Ops mission called Operation Genoa. The story was that the USA used nerve gas on innocent civilians somewhere. Only it was inaccurate, dead wrong, or simply bogus. The DOD reacted strongly. The story had to be retracted. And the DOJ is suing ACN, AWM, and every one who worked on the broadcast.
Which brings us to Rebecca Halliday, the high-priced lawyer ($1500 an hour) who will spend the season getting the ACN people all on the same page, and her task is to make all who would testify or be deposed capable of giving believable, sparkling, and winning testimony – someday.
The above are just the main courses. Of course we have some side dishes. Once Jim Harper is off to New Hampshire, Don breaks up with Maggie, citing that her tirade to the Sex in the City Tour Bus was captured on video and is now available for all and sundry to see on YouTube. His parting shot spoken softly (and decently) to her was Take it easy Maggie. As far as Don’s life this season, exit Maggie, enter Sloan. Take note of Sloan, her character appears much more dynamic and confident. I don’t care if Charlie Skinner said to her, I’m a nerd, and you’re a nerd. To which Sloan replied, Yeah, but I make nerds look good. Amen to that.
Don and Sloan (who Charlie called Money Skirt at the beginning of the episode). appear to have some initial traction or chemistry if you prefer that. Mackenzie finally steps up her technical game and saves a broadcast from a very bad case of poor fact checking involving the French police and someone we know as DSK. The board was down, a graphic wouldn’t load, and Mack was able to get a live voice over to replace the inaccurate pre-recorded one while the show was airing. Bravo Mack!.
Also everyone had to like the way Mackenzie pushed Will against a wall twice. She was angry about Will not stepping in to cut off Cyrus West. This week, Mackenzie did not go all weak-kneed over some issue with Will.
Jane Fonda had about three lines as Leona, and Reese got soaked and booted off Capitol Hill. Jessica Johnson, last year’s ‘sorority girl’ whose question to Will launched the series, is now on staff. Neal Patel is going to cover the Occupy Wall Street story which he calls America’s own Arab Spring. Mackenzie was skeptical at first (as it wasn’t quite news yet). Neal will be arrested during the Wall Street sit-in in next week’s episode.
Gaddafi was deposed as the rebels rook over Tripoli. Van Morrison crooned Into the Mystic, The Who sang You Better You Bet, and Marcia Gay Harden as Rebecca Halliday looked like she could go toe to toe with Will McAvoy any day of the week. We had no sign of Will’s body-guard, nothing was said about the death threats made against Will, and apparently the Don, Maggie, Lisa, and Jim rectangle of a romance has been halved or quartered, or is simply now just a part of television history as is Neal pitching Bigfoot. Still to be uncovered is what happened to Maggie after Don and she ended. It doesn’t look pretty but all we know is that Maggie went to Uganda and came back, as Rebecca Halliday would describe her, looking like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
This Ladies and Gentleman, is only the first act of Sorkin’s Circus – sorry – make that The Newsroom Season Two, which to me, looks very promising.