Well, here we go again. After the first season of Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama, The Newsroom, I was dreading a second season. I hoped, of course, for a return of the elements I liked in the first season (the “sausage making” process of TV news), and a purging of the elements I disliked (the romantic subplots). But even as I hoped that, I knew that what I would likely get in season two would be more of the same. The premiere has done nothing to change my expectations.
ACN and its star anchor, Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), are in trouble. The season opens with Will talking to a group of lawyers, and while we aren’t told exactly what the trouble is, I have some Rather big guesses as to what it will turn out to be. We also see a new look for Maggie (Alison Pill), which the screenplay goes to great lengths to call attention to.
We then flash back a few months to August of 2011. We get to see what the crew are up to, and it’s mostly them dealing, in various ways, with the fallout from Will calling the Tea Party “The American Taliban”. This includes Will being taken off of the coverage of the 9/11 anniversary, and Jim (John Gallagher, Jr), not being allowed to board the Romney campaign bus when he goes to New Hampshire to cover them. Oh, yes, Jim runs off to New Hampshire because he can’t deal with the whole romantic subplot between him and Maggie. I feel for ya, Jim. I don’t like it, either.
Anyhow, beyond that, we see Maggie’s relationship with Don (Thomas Sadowski), fall apart. Ho-hum. We see Sloan (Olivia Munn), moving up a bit in the world of news, which is nice. But we also get a slightly interesting subplot involving Neal (Dev Patel), who actually gets to do something outside the news room when he notices something called “Occupy Wall Street” and thinks it might become a thing.
To me that’s the real meat of the story. Oh, sure, we have the whole New Hampshire thing which is apparently set-up for something called Operation Genoa (the central plot for this season, it seems), and the relationship crap, but to me the actual interesting part is Neal going out and covering what he senses, correctly, will become a major news story.
As I’ve said before, that’s the sort of thing the series should focus on. If it was 90% about how the news is made and produced for a 24 hour network, and 10% about relationship stuff, I’d be a happy camper indeed. But, well, it is what it is.
Overall, I didn’t dislike this episode. The bits where the characters were doing their jobs, and not whining about romance, were interesting, intelligent and gripping, as always. But too often I was busy rolling my eyes at the romance. I will say, however, that one romantic scene that did work, and worked well, was Don breaking up with Maggie, and doing so quietly, and without drama. That was appreciated, especially as I would have expected this show to go the other way.
This episode did do a good job of setting the stage for what’s to come, for better or for worse. I’d like to hope that we won’t get as much romance sub-plot as last year, but I fear that won’t be the case. Instead I’ll just have to hope that the good stuff outweighs the bad.
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