The Newsroom, Episode 2

We don’t do good television, we do the news.

Ratings ratings ratings.  “Ratings” is one letter, and a very close keystroke, away from being an anagram for Ratigan.  If only there was some kind of meaning behind that fact other than the tragically ironic.  In any case, it is an area of serious interest to Aaron Sorkin and comes up again after a great deal of discussion in Studio 60 (2006-07) and, I surmise, Sports Night (1998-2000).  I still don’t know what the demo is, but apparently it’s important.  And ratings are important.  If I could advertise on this site, then my ratings would be important to the amount of money I would get and the constitution of those ratings would determine the means by which that money was gotten.  As it happens, I can’t, so they aren’t, but they could be if they were.

Another little thread so similar to Studio 60 that I’m concerned is the unknown reason for a breakup between our two conflicted but wonderfully chemistrical companion characters continuing to crop up.  Chaotic coincidence can’t contrive continuous coverage, can it?  It’s fine, we find out in moments, so it isn’t that big a deal.  It’s a bit on the Friends (1994-2004) end of the dramatic, but expression is 9/10 of entertainment law.  Will (Jeff Daniels) doesn’t want Mackenzie (Emily Mortimer) to tell anyone, so that’ll work.

Mackenzie has come up a new framework for the show using a series of rules.

Rule #1: Is this information we need in the voting booth?
Rule #2: Is this the best possible form of the argument?
Rule #3: Is the story in historical context?
Rule #4: Are there really two sides to this story?

I drool at the prospect.  The second rule nixes the wackos (like the militia guy that was on Jon Stewart last night), the fourth rule avoids the “fairness bias” that makes every dumb idea into a reasonable alternative, and the other two mean they’re important and intelligible.

Mackenzie has also brought Sloan (Olivia Munn) onto the show to do five minutes of economics how and why.  Sloan’s a Ph.D. from Duke and thus wicked smart and she’s Olivia Munn and thus wicked hot, or, in Macenzie’s words, doesn’t “look like George Bernard Shaw.”

On the show (within the show), things go a little balls-up on the scheduling front, and, as a result, we witness what happens when the show goes horribly wrong.  As this is our second episode, and second show, we have the benefit as an audience to see the spectrum of what the news can be like.  If this second episode is any guide, a lot more time will be dedicated to the news program than was dedicated to the sketch show on Studio 60.

This is a questionable decision.  It invites the criticism that we’re given half of the news from two years ago as it should have been reported—a bit a-topical, eh?  I for one like to watch old episodes of Have I Got News for You (1990-), so I take myself as an uncommon observer.  I imagine that a rule of reviewing is to give your own perspective and not try to guess as to others’, but I have enough trust in my estimation of other people’s pathetic criticisms to present them.  I also hope to discount them.  The Newsroom (2012) is as much a lesson and example as it is an entertainment.  For those who are not entertained by lessons, should still find pleasure in the drama and witty banter.  If not, then I’m afraid you’re a part of the problem with society and should do us all a favor and give up your Nielsen box so that we don’t all turn into dribbling idiots.

Also, there’s a legitimate point to setting this two years ago.  Most people will (or should) remember these news events and how they turned out.  Thus, we know the news and can pat them on the back for getting it right before they would be expected to in real life.  If every show were filled with fake news about fake people in fake countries, what would be the point?  Sorkin would have to go about creating both the news and the reporting of it, when the whole moral of the show is that the news should be reporting news rather than making it up.  Possibly that’s too deep an observation.  In any case, I prefer the way they’re going.  It’s also of note that the reporting on the Arizona law turned out to be rather topical since the Supreme Court just handed down (off their mountain top) a decision on that self-same Arizona law.  Planned or awesome coincidence?  Either suits me.

I’m surprised Sorkin seems to miss the joke in the quoted passage at the top of this entry.  Sort of like the joke: “You deserve the best.”  “I don’t want the best, I want you.”  The great truth of economics is that the market gets what it deserves.  If you like good television and intelligent news, then that’s what you’ll get.  This truth is exactly what The Newsroom is going to face—because I know Sorkin feels that same way—and I’m excited to see what happens.

Reviews of Episodes 123456789, and 10.

About Prof. Ratigan

A semi-lawyer and amateur enthusiast.
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6 Responses to The Newsroom, Episode 2

  1. Pingback: The Newsroom Episode 5 | Prof. Ratigan

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