The Newsroom: Boston
November 10, 2014 8:14 PM - Season 3, Episode 1 - Subscribe

The Newsroom's third (and final) season opens with a story based around the Boston Marathon bombing coverage.

The episode centers around the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, with ACN's newsroom (licking their wounds after the Genoa fiasco from season 2) waiting for official confirmation before reporting that the marathon finish line had been bombed. Meanwhile, Neal Sampat receives an encrypted message asking him to prepare an air-gap computer and strong cryptographic key-pair ahead of retrieving a flash drive from a toilet stall in a restaurant men's room (and in the process apparently accidentally conspires to commit espionage). This will be the show's treatment of the Snowden events. A third plot line surrounds a potential hostile takeover of Atlantis World Media, and Sloan Sabbith's uncovering this fact.
posted by axiom (4 comments total)
There were so many news folk all over the place after that tragedy. I was thinking about doing a webpage/photo essay of photographers of the news photographers, but it didn't seem quite the right thing.
posted by sammyo at 8:26 PM on November 10, 2014

First of all, I was surprised by how much I liked this episode. As far as the series goes, this one was a high point to me.

And I think it was partly because it reminded me a lot of an episode of Sports Night. Sometimes awfully literally of course:
  • “Let’s do sports, Charlie. We love sports." Remember, people kept accusing Sorkin, despite strenuous denials, of writing Will as Olbermann. We already had one Sorkin show that was literally about Olbermann.
  • Don-Sloan acting an awful lot like Will-Natalie
  • With the power of the internet, I shall figure out that the station is up for sale
  • Last-place ratings (if William H. Macy gets to come back as a ratings consultant, I will cry)
  • (Special bonus reference: riots in Equatorial Kundu (is there a non-Equatorial Kundu?), our favorite troubled African dictatorship from West Wing)
I also like the setup for Neal's classified docs story. The nuance of the reporter encouraging his source to provide documents takes us into a murkier place that will be interesting to explore. I do wonder if Neal should be smarter than that though, but I guess journalists are a little more knowledgeable about the Espionage Act today than they were 18 months ago.

I guess at this point the question has to be: where are we going? (sigh) With Sports Night, the stakes were lower, so it was easier to say "it's just sports." With West Wing, the show tapped into the final ounce of political optimism left in our nation, making us want to root for the good guys on TV as their real-world counterparts lost any resemblance to that fantasyland. Studio 60 again had lower stakes, and I feel like even most of the characters stopped thinking their work was that important by the end.

So where does that leave The Newsroom? We have a phenomenally talented team that is convinced they are performing vital work. But they are stubbornly doing it the same way they did it in 1985, except now it's for a world 25 IQ points too dumb to understand and 80 tweets too impatient to care. In a nation where cable news is a punchline, Will and the gang have seemingly never heard the joke. And did I mention they are in fourth place, making them the losers in a loser format? These people are all smart enough to know this and to grapple with these issues, but it's probably easier to give up and go do sports instead.

The final scene of the series has got to be Jeff Bridges, Peter Krause, and Josh Charles all sitting an anchor desk doing a sports show. I hear Ntozake Nelson is going for a new world record.
posted by zachlipton at 12:45 AM on November 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

Well, they certainly aren't going to lack for action in this season. My favorite part was Maggie just completely nailing the stand-up in the hotel. She all-the-way killed it and I couldn't be happier for her. I'm less thrilled with Will and Charlie's new Abbot and Costello schtick.

The most interesting thing to me in this episode was definitely Sorkin's critique of the Internet Detective Squad. I remember well how that week went down here on MetaFilter. It will definitely make me think twice about wanting to play amateur sleuth in the future. Though all-in-all MeFi usually acquits itself well in such cases.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:28 AM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Aaron Sorkin is such a weird bird. OTOH he's pretty obvious leans left. OTOH his rose-colored glasses for the good old days just come off as old fart convservative. I'll be interested to see how the whole Snowden storyline pans out, because Neal is always shown as the crazy one, even though by 2013 (when this ep was set) is recent enough that by that point everybody understood that news was going to be different forever, and they are going to have to accept Twitter as A Thing.
posted by nushustu at 3:57 AM on November 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

« Older Breaking Bad: Kafkaesque...   |  Sleepy Hollow: Heartless... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments