The Newsroom Season 3 episode 1

Well, the pigs are flying and the heroes are in trees and I really, really enjoyed the first episode of The Newsroom this season.

This is, of course, not how the plan is supposed to go. The Newsroom is supposed to be strictly for snarking, and giggling, and for rolling your eyes all “Oh of COURSE you aren’t making any mistakes, you have the benefit of perspective”. 

In some ways, this is still true. The choice of ACN not to make celebrities out of the brothers Tsarnaev is pretty easy in retrospect, when at the time none of us knew what was going to happen, or that Rolling Stone was going to put him on the cover, or that that same cover was going to be such a huge controversy.  

But in large part the show mitigates that with a few strategic mentions that feel less overt than in previous seasons. ACN is gun-shy to get on the air. Maybe because of this and maybe because of the way things are, they remain in fourth place all week long. That’s a thing that can happen. You can be doing everything right and still get nothing to show for it, still be seen as doing badly even when you’re doing your best to do well.     

And the sequence of events that transpired to make Maggie have to go to Boston, and for Elliot to eat walnuts (and be utterly unconcerned about it) and to magically have her have Mac’s (Louis Vuitton, it must be eye-rollingly noticed) bag and have a suit inside it and be able to do the live hit – well, it stretches the credibility of the one “buy” a show expects you to take per episode, according to conventional TV writer wisdom.

But Will and Mac seem like people, and Charlie seems like a boss who is annoyed with his troops and also acknowledges they’re doing the best they can, and Don – despite being self-important in jury duty – continues to have a chemistry with Sloan that I could not have predicted. I really enjoyed all the parts of the story, and I enjoyed Chris Messina getting to be more of a presence. He and Jane Fonda seemed to cancel each other out before but he appears to have more of a concrete purpose here. I may be coloured in this opinion by the fact that I accidentally peeked at next episode and the “twin takeover” storyline has some great stars and some actual resonance.

So is the show starting to come into its own? Yes, I think so. There was precious little romance this episode (though I suspect we’re going to have to acknowledge Grace Gummer) and Jim – remember Jim? – was kind of an afterthought and the show is continuing to have an interesting, if slightly grandfatherly, discussion about what news organizations can and must do in the face of “citizen journalism” that hunts for blood and doxes people for sport. Or, pardon me, “ethics in games journalism”. 

But Mac warns us in the words or Euripides (which, in this case, Will hasn’t read) that this is the Third Act. First you get your hero up a tree, second act you throw rocks at him, third act you get him down. Without belaboring the “acts” metaphor,  Sorkin is telling us he’s going to make things right for these people. He’s going to do right by them, and even saying that, maybe, the things that happened to them that drove us crazy are by design.

I’ve never been more excited to watch a show I used to mock, and not in the “oh it’ll be fun to roll my eyes” way, either. Do you feel the same way or have I drunk some Euripides kool-aid?