Review: ‘The Newsroom’ – ‘Amen’

Senior Television Writer
07.23.12 102 Comments


A few quick thoughts on last night’s “The Newsroom” coming up just as soon as I keep walking into a glass door…

I didn’t expect to see “Amen” for quite some time, due to press tour and traveling, but I got into the hotel early enough, and then decided to stay up late enough to watch it. Not going to write a full review, both because my issues with the show – the tortured romantic comedy stuff (and, in this case, the tortured physical comedy), the infantilizing of Mackenzie, the hero worship of Will – remain exactly the same, and because I have to head out shortly to the first tour panel of the day, but I do want to point out a couple of specific things.

First, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why Will kept insisting that the moment in “Rudy” that makes every man cry is the jersey scene – when, from both personal and anecdotal experience, the most emotional part of the movie takes place as the crowd bullies Dan Devine into putting Rudy into the game, and then as his loved ones react to that – until we got to the climactic scene. And then I understood – sort of. As with the final moments of the Gabby Giffords scene last week, it’s a case of the show taking a very real, very violent news story and turning it into an excuse for Will McAvoy to be applauded (literally, this time), but I at least got that Sorkin was trying to set it up with that earlier scene. But the construction of it turns Will into Dan Devine, who’s the movie’s villain (even if in real life he wasn’t such a bad guy), and then suddenly he’s getting applauded like “Rudy” marching back onto the practice field after briefly quitting the team.

Second, for a show that wants to keep pointing out the real lies and mistakes being made by politicians and media members in the recent past, it either keeps intentionally misstating things or screwing them up. As friend of the blog Adam Bonin summed up nicely last night on Twitter, Will’s description of what the Citizens United case was about was simply wrong.

I’d go on, but I don’t want to feel like piling on. I was glad Dev Patel got a lot of (non-Bigfoot-related) things to do this week, but overall, this remains a very frustrating show.

Based on the tour schedule, I’m less confident in my ability to see episode 6 in a timely fashion, so I imagine I’ll just skip writing about that (and maybe the next one or two after). But HBO is doing a “Newsroom” panel on Wednesday, August 1st, and I expect either Fienberg or I will be live-blogging an event that’s going to go much differently from what HBO and Sorkin assumed when they planned it months ago.

What did everybody else think?

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