Brian is the Knight of the Mirrors, that’s the chapter we’re up to now.
The piece in New York magazine didn’t go exactly as Will (Jeff Daniels) expected. He wanted it to be a historical document that spread the word of what they were doing at News Night like the kid at the end of Camelot. Instead, it sounded similar to critics of The Newsroom (2012) with a couple of “it isn’t that he’s…it’s that he’s…” that benefit from being two criticisms in one. Well, it’s shaken the man and it causes some problems internally. Mackenzie (Emily Mortimer) is trying to keep Will from leaving the show and get Jim (John Gallagher Jr.) to close the deal with Maggie (Alison Pill) possibly before Don (Thomas Sadoski) asks her to move in with him (Don) who, we find out, has a secret admirer (Spoiler). Meanwhile, I haven’t mentioned Sam Waterston much or Terry Crews who is Will’s bodyguard after a death threat that happened like five episodes ago.
This was the series finale, but it came all too soon. Either the show should be longer or the story arcs needed some tweaking. Personally, I’d prefer a longer season. Here’s where I have to admit that it was a false dilemma. Not because it’s neither, but because it’s both. (I’m doing a Sorkin impression.) Listen, if you want to stretch the love and cut the facts, that’s fine, just know that when you do somebody somewhere is asking the question. What question? Who is your master? Is it character or moments?
It’s moments. But I’m not sure there’s anyone better at constructing a moment than Sorkin is. Does that make a show? Shows have been made on much much…much less. The Newsroom benefits from being a direct speaking trumpet. Episode 10 showed us the bottom half of that bargain. It was the final barrage against the Tea Party, a Bronx salute to the litany of things wrong with the group. He then ruins it a bit with an accurate but inflammatory analogy. It’s not that it’s wrong, it’s that it seems wrong. It’s also repetitive. He’s lambasted them many times and is unlikely to destroy them since this is a fictional program set in the past aired on a premium cable station with around 29 million subscribers. Making things a little worse is the sense I got that this last shellacking was supposed to imply a kind of victory. “We got ‘em this time, Will.” But I’m pretty sure that’s just sensitivity three weeks after reading criticism of the show and having this constant dread that some may be well-founded. They aren’t, because the last moments undermine that fear almost completely.
But really, truly, he needs to construct a better story arc for the second season. Either that or give up on the story arc idea. Is that possible for a quality television series or does that come with the territory? I think it’s implicit in its being high-quality. An element of good television is good story, good continuity, and character development. Did we get that last element this series from The Newsroom? I’m not sure that we did. In all honesty, you couldn’t really say The West Wing (1999-2006) had character development so much as character revelation. Keep putting these people through their paces and something engaging will come up. That’s roughly true of The Newsroom, but not nearly as consistently or interestingly. Are the characters different enough to create strong conflict? Who’s there telling Will or Mackenzie they’re going too far with a critique or missing a genuine blunder on the left?
Second Series Preview. – Prof. Ratigan and his guest a Magic 8-Ball
Will and Mackenzie, a brush of the hand, a thrill from the hips? “Most likely”
Jim and Maggie, ditto? “Outlook good.”
Sloan and Don, ditto? “You may rely on it.”
Charlie and Neal? “Very doubtful.”
Will and Mackenzie will fall out over policy? “As I see it, yes.”
Mackenzie will almost be fired? “Without a doubt.”
There will be a genuine death threat? “My sources say no.”
Terry Crews will have a profound, well-acted moment? “Outlook not so good.”
At least one professional critic will avoid using the word “sanctimonious”? “My reply is no.”
Will Will leave the Tea Party behind and go after Obama? “Reply hazy, try again.” “Concentrate and ask again.” “Very doubtful.” That was cautious, again please? “Outlook good.” Dammit!
Will Will complain about a professional athlete’s performance in a game? “Yes – definitely.”
Will Maggie’s face show emotions other than disaster and mixed joy? “Cannot predict now.”
Will Neal’s ability to date great-looking ladies be explained? “Don’t count on it.”
Good work everybody. Magic 8-Ball, you waffled there for a while, but come up with some gratifyingly agreeable predictions. It’s almost as if I made you up completely.