The Newsroom Season Three Begins, as Does the Countdown

Hello, I must be going, I cannot stay,
I came to say, I must be going.
I’m glad I came, but just the same,
I must be going.

So said Groucho Marx as Captain Jeffrey T. Spaulding in the film Animal Crackers. Of course Spaulding was a world renown hunter and adventurer. And always on the look out for bigger game. Like Margaret Dumont for example. But he was a man on the move.

As is Aaron Sorkin. Via multiple sources, it has been widely mentioned that Sorkin has confirmed his statements from last May, that he will be stepping away from writing for television. Of course he tosses in the oft said, never say never, as a qualifier. He says he might be back someday…if a new and good idea can be found.

In the mean time he’ll be at the keyboard for his screenplay for Jobs. There’s also talk of his theatrical play, A Few Good Men, being mounted as a theatrical production revival. So Sorkin has a lot on his plate and doesn’t really need the bashing he’s going to take for his Season 3 of The Newsroom, which returned on HBO earlier tonight.

Tonight’s episode was called Boston, and it tied in the real life tragedy of the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15th, 2013 with the ACN coverage of the story. Sorkin has stated that it is easier and better to tie his fictional stories to real news events instead of having to use made up news. While I am understanding his reasoning, it didn’t work all that well for me tonight.

I mean we are well versed in what happened at the Marathon and the aftermath, so I felt it difficult to build up any enthusiasm for the dramatic rushing about, and then sitting on the sidelines while they waited for confirmations before going on the air. Margaret Jordan and Elliot Hirsch went up to Boston and the rest of the News Night crew stayed home.

Predictably, Will McAvoy had his rants, but only just two this time, and each was brief, and Charlie Skinner had his usual allotment of f-bombs to toss out. We were reminded of the upcoming nuptials of Will and Mackenzie which was basically an argument about the size of the wedding party. Don and Sloan, are supposedly a couple this time around – although they’re not all that visibly acting as a couple. I’m working from last year on that. By the way, last year’s closing Episode 19 aired on September 15, 2013, so we are just a few days short of that broadcast being 14 months ago.

But as we all know, some of the problems that have plagued the show, or annoyed either the critics of the viewers like the simple fact is that the women of The Newsroom are often made to look silly, foolish, or dumb. So I was looking forward to see if Sorkin had decided to give the female characters some stronger footing.

What I got instead was a reduction for the female characters not only in screen time but what they had to say. Did it not seem that Mackenzie had very little to do this time? And Maggie was sent off to Boston to have a presence on the ground there. She did a sparkling report from the streets of Boston, but it was only about 90 seconds.Of course, Maggie nearly accidentally poisoned Elliot who was allergic to walnuts which Maggie had in the chicken salad. Elliot said that in about a minute his tongue would swell and thicken, and he’d have trouble speaking. Which happened and it didn’t add all that much levity. In fact I though it was a bit cruel.

And didn’t it seem that the Rundown Meeting had way too many people in the room. Far more than we ever saw in Seasons 1 and 2.

Due to the trailers which have been out for a few weeks, we can expect a break-up, or at minimum, some rough seas ahead for Don and Sloan. Speaking of Sloan, I think she had the most lines this week. Was that a makeup for last year’s Election Night Coverage when Sloan could never get in a word. As usual,  Sloan was quick on her feet as well as a fast talker, but God, isn’t she inscrutable. That line – It was not a double entendre, it really was a pun. I understand the words, as well as the reference. But still….my thought was…

Oh really, ask me if I care. I love the Sloan character and I love the way Olivia Munn plays her. Speaking of Munn, as well as Emily Mortimer (Mackenzie) and Alison Pill (Maggie) did you notice they are all wearing their hair much longer this season.

And why not – the ‘season’ is just six episodes. I’ll return to that shortly.

The other bit of real news is the story angle with Neal Sampat (Dev Patel) being sent what apparently are classified and stolen documents. Likely all the property of the DoD, the Justice Department, as well as the State Department. So Sampat has been asked to don the Edward Snowden cloak and dagger. Only he didn’t flee the country. He brought it straight to the attention of management.This also means that Marcia Gay Harden, who plays the lawyer Rebecca Halliday, will soon be on the premises of ACN deposing Neal, Will, Charlie, Mackenzie, et al.

Circling back to the very little to do we must include John Gallagher Jr. as Harper. He was relegated to the sidelines, as was Grace Gummer as Hallie Shea.

Then there’s the story line of the financial doings of Reese Lansing’s newly minted half-siblings. It seems that there’s some thing in the way of a hostile takeover in the works. Thank you Sloan. That of course will be the entry point of Leona Lansing. Of course that’s worthwhile as Jane Fonda just kills as Leona.

What did I leave out – Oh yes, Will has once again quit. The tumble from 2nd place to 4th wasn’t his fault, but as the face of News Night, it will be Will that is most tarnished. How original, Will almost resigned in Season One, and almost resigned in Season Two. So maybe this was to be expected.

My overall opinion of The Newsroom S3 E1 called Boston, was that it only brightened in the last 12 minutes. That is when the business about Neal and the classified documents got rolling. Will and Charlie once again did exactly what they always do. At least Will did not knock down any straw men this week.

Yes, Sorkin has stayed with his formula of tieing the fictional to the real, and this week, Boston rang a bit too hollow for me. I just didn’t get engaged by the News Night folks chasing the facts of the Boston Marathon Bombings.

Maybe Sorkin is burned out, or maybe he’s facing up to the fact that The Newsroom was never ever going to be the next West Wing. So he’s announced, for the record, that he’s stepping out of TV land. Well good for him.

But maybe there’s more to it than we know. Maybe it was HBO that said we aren’t sure about a 4th season. Maybe HBO donned the Reese Lansing contrarian role. And when Sorkin got that vibe, he may have said, I’ll get you for that. And he handed in his six episodes as a hasta la vista.

I wish him well, and I do thank him for all of the wonderful things he’s done for both the movies and television. But right now he’s seemingly about just one thing. Hello, I must be going.

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One thought on “The Newsroom Season Three Begins, as Does the Countdown

  1. Good read! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the first couple of series so I’m eager to see what they come up with next. It’s a shame it isn’t meeting similar critical acclaim as previously. I’ve yet to see the first episode but will be checking it out this week.

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