Review: ‘The Newsroom’ – ‘One Step Too Many’

A quick review of tonight’s “The Newsroom” coming up just as soon as I talk to someone who says he’s seen eight reindeer…

“One Step Too Many” wasn’t exactly the inverse of last week’s “News Night with Will McAvoy.” There was a long stretch where we were focusing on the after-hours lives of the characters – Maggie at the bar, Jim and Neal on a horrible five-sided double date, Will getting bad advice from Nina – but the episode spent a lot of time before and after on the Genoa investigation, including a marvelous, elusive turn by Stephen Root as the March Madness-loving retired general. (After “True Blood,” “Boardwalk Empire” and now this – not to mention “From the Earth to the Moon” back in the day – I’m assuming HBO casting just has Root on speed dial. As well they should.)

The problem is that Sorkin has hinged the entire Genoa plot on Jerry Dantana, who’s a character we don’t know and have no investment in. Jerry being so obsessed with this story – and what it will do to an administration whose other activities have so frustrated him – that he would re-edit the interview doesn’t matter, because he has no arc we care about, and it lets the other characters largely off the hook. They are not faultless in what’s happened here, but they were put on this path in the first place by Jerry, and then given the (forged) key piece of evidence by him, which overcame their own doubts on it. So unless we see Mac or Will doing something really stupid in the next week’s episode, this isn’t the tale of how our heroes messed up, but of how they were tricked by the one bad seed in their organization. It’s “The Wire” season 5 fabulist all over again; systemic issues are ignored in favor of picking one guy whom you can blame for nearly everything. It’s not dramatically interesting, nor is it interesting as media commentary, and “The Newsroom” aspires to be both.

What did everybody else think? Did you find any of the personal storylines compelling? Are you on board with Jerry as the primary villain of this mess?