TV Review: “The Newsroom” Episodes 9 & 10 – HBO Almost Had Me Worried

Written by Jesse Gelinas September 02, 2012

Don’t scare me like that!

It took a bit of time for Aaron Sorkin’s brainchild to really come into its own, and honestly, I was ready to cast this show aside as another short-lived HBO flop. About midway through the season the show began to pick up a bit of speed and that is when it began to impress. This show allows us to sit and watch history—history that we’ve already witnessed—unfold, and we’re damn entertained as it does. If only real news could be like this.

**WARNING: Episode spoilers below trailer**

“Keep God out of this and talk more about electricity.”

The penultimate episode, ‘Blackout: Mock Debate’, is the second of the two-parter that began with ‘Tragedy Porn’. The blackout that interrupted the interview at the end of the previous episode allows for a revelation between the news staff and there’s a lot of self-realization, and claims of a miracle from Mackenzie who prayed for it to happen and goes on a tirade about how it’s going to save their show. The scene actually had a pretty funny payoff and soon after things are back on the rise. Will is still being forced to report on sensational stories such as Casey Anthony and Anthony Wiener, while sacrificing time that should be dedicated to the economic debate going on in Congress, all the while preparing for the mock debate that will hopefully snag them a presidential debate on their network.

Behind all this, Neal is going on an online trolling assignment, and Jim and Maggie are still being cardboard cut-outs of a romance plot. Also, the expose piece on ACN is about to be wrapped up and everyone is worried about exactly how their newsroom is going to be portrayed. The main plot and the tension about the expose are fantastic, but I’m still being entirely bored by the Jim and Maggie angle. They are the worst aspect of the show and it would be stronger without their added “drama”. Overall, however, it is a solid episode that sets up the finale nicely.

“Being a cynic is easy.”

The season finale, ‘The Greater Fool’ is a bit of a changeup from the previous episodes. It takes a shot at a nonlinear plot that has been done to death in movies, but it does manage to work alright here. While getting tidbits of a controversial broadcast from Will, we’re shown what happened in the previous week to lead to it. We see Will in the hospital after having taken an excessive amount of anti-depressants following the expose story, and much more time is dedicated to Jim, Maggie, Lisa, Don, and Sloan. I truly hope that the semi-conclusion given to this love-pentagon plotline is the final nail for a while as it is getting rather tiresome. Neal’s delving into online troll society however, makes for some really funny scenes that almost make me forget the romantic nonsense.

Tensions rise as a source extremely close to Will leaks that he was high during his bin Laden broadcast and the whole thing threatens to destroy everything the staff has worked on for the last year. This is the real gripping part of the episode, and has a pretty nice payoff when it all comes to a head. The episode’s writing is the best it’s been, and even with the flimsy romance threads nearly drowning the rest of the cast, it makes for some great television. There is also a great little scene with the “idiot sorority girl” from the pilot that treads very close to too cheesy before it ends. I was forgiving because it really did sort of sum up the point of the show.

“This country was built by greater fools.”

HBO has done the impossible once again. They’ve taken a seemingly disappointingly mundane show and managed to raise it up to near-great status. The show is not an instant classic, and its future is still uncertain to me, but it has proven that it has the potential to be fantastic. If the quality continues to rise in the second season, we could be enjoying “The Newsroom” for years to come.

My Ratings:

‘Mock Debate’: 8/10

‘The Greater Fool’: 9/10

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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