Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Newsroom - News Night 2.0

With the chaos of the recent Gulf oil spill dying down the crew of News Night gathers together to do their first real show by putting the kind of news voters need to know instead of their usual ratings-based coverage. At the same time Will (Jeff Daniels) sneaks off to talk to his ratings guy (Chris Messina), who (Sam Waterston) ordered not to talk to Will, and contemplates a segment to appeal to Republican viewers.

The show puts together their plan to report on the controversial Arizona immigration bill but things start falling apart early as Maggie (Alison Pill) blows a call to the Arizona Governor's office who has to be replaced at the last minute by a crazy Internet professor (Paul Willson), a member of a citizen's militia (Marshall Bell), and the second runner-up (Megan Park) in the Miss America Pageant. Mackenzie also aids the chaos when, while trying to stand-up for Will, she accidentally emails the entire office regarding the one matter he asked her specifically not to discuss with anyone - their break-up.

The episode also introduces Olivia Munn as an on-air financial analyst who Mackenzie steals for the show. The segment between them quickly goes from Mackenzie offering her a job to showcasing her paticular brand of crazy (and doing a pretty good Dana Whitaker impersonation from Sports Night) as she begs Sloan to personally talk to every member of the office and try to convince them that Will isn't an ass.

In a futile effort Will tries to save the show as Maggie blames herself for the snafu and Jim Harper (John Gallagher Jr.) for trying to deflect blame. In terms of showcasing how easily a television show can find itself scrambling to deliver a very modest version of their planned offering "News Night 2.0" works well. The email miscue is far too easily to see coming, and entire ratings/Sarah Palin drop-in subplot doesn't work as well as I'd like, but the episode does bring the crew together in their determination to do better and includes some terrifically funny lines (delivered mostly from Mortimer).

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