Newsroom: Season 3, Episode 3: Main Justice

Apologies for the delay, wasn’t in the position to blog and will do my best to keep it from happening again.

Gary Cooper: ‘Stead of landing on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock would land on them. In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking but now God knows, Anything goes. Good authors, too, who once knew better words. Now only use four-letter words writing — What the fuck is going on?

This is probably my favorite opening of any Aaron Sorkin episode ever. Seriously, I just spent time trying to think about every West Wing, Sports Night and Studio 60 episode and came up blank.

Cole Porter and Sorkin are two of the most brilliant writers ever and among my personal favorites. The ending of fuck just when Gary was singing about how good authors once had the vocabulary to not curse is great. I can’t say it was unexpected but that didn’t diminish the greatness.

Gary: Is this for real?
Agent Rodger: What’s your name?
Gary: My name?
Agent: Yeah.
Gary: It’s spelled arrest me or go fuck yourself. We’ve been raided.
Agent: It’s Saturday night and you got the graveyard shift. What would I find if I stop and frisk you, Snoop Dogg?
Gary: Unless that warrant says you can stick your hand in my pockets, you’re gonna find yourself in a conversation about illegal search and seizure.

The fact that I have to mention Cole Porter and Snoop Dogg in this close proximity is a problem. I was going to do a comparison of the lyrics but I just can’t — nope. I will embed two of Mr. Dogg’s songs and then two of Mr. Porter’s and you can try to tell the difference (warning: Snoop isn’t safe for work).

Got it? Good, let’s get back to the show.

Jim Harper: My password’s N-Y–
Secret Agent Woman: I don’t need your password.
Jim: That’s a comfort.

Why would you say that? Even if it’s just to make them think you’re working together let them give you the password.

Molly Levy: And we are the physical manifestation of the will of that court.
MacKenzie McHale: The fuck are you, Marley’s ghost?

I’m going to assume she’s referring to the play and not the 1980s band. The Dickensian stuff works so much better.

Molly: You kiss your sources with that mouth?

Slight issue if she’s kissing that many of her sources, but I digress.

Don Keefer: I’d like to make sure my phones aren’t being tapped.
Will MacAvoy: They don’t have permission to tap our phones.
Don: Then I guess this would be the first time the FBI has used a warrantless wiretap.

How exactly would Don try to stop them or really know what they are doing? These guys don’t know anything about technology, remember?

Jim: Do you have the first idea how any of this equipment works?
Don: I don’t know how electricity works. Just start pressing buttons.

It’s more meta! This is SO Sorkin making an analogy to himself (I think he even said it in the HBO post-show clip) he can write the show but has no idea how the details work. As long as it’s self aware, I think this is pretty cool.

Jim: What is on our air?
Don: Red Carpet Roundup. We need a studio feed.
Jim: Can I just say that this network’s Saturday night programming is–
Don: Maybe now’s not the time. But I do agree.

Complaining about Saturday night news programming is pretty stupid, if you put a good news show on at that hour those guys would complain that you’re burying it.

Jim: There’s a typo. You left out the R.
Maggie Jordan: Where?
Jim: It says “beaking news.”

I think people would be surprised with how often that happens and what percentage of the time it’s caught (pretty high).

Jim: It says “baking news” now.
Maggie: Fuck!

I think all these newsrooms should have buttons that you press and it spells breaking news correctly (I’m pretty sure some of them do but these guys would need Neal to get away from the website to get it done).

Don: Freedom won and not a bullet was fired.
Jim: Let this day be recorded in the all…
Maggie: Your fly is unzipped.
Jim: I’m not sure how I feel about new confident Maggie.
Don: She’s looking good.
Sloan: I can still hear you.
Don: Do you think there’s any chance she’s…
Sloan: I’m not pretending.

I thought this was great, funny while showing character growth (especially from Maggie). And I’ve watched it five times and laughed every time.

Will: Doesn’t it take at least a week to vet 27,000 documents?
Molly: If you put the same scrupulous attention into vetting this story as you did with Genoa, you should be done in no time.
Mac: You are sitting at the loser table.
Molly: At your wedding, what else is available?

Mac: You’re getting the fish and the fish is gonna suck!
Molly: You’re talking about your own wedding.

Points like this are where I think that Sorkin was just hitting his stride. The more I think about it the sadder I am that this show is going to go. Having him writing for TV at all (even in an imperfect form) is so much better than having to wait for a movie.

Charlie Skinner: All right, obviously we’ll talk more before then. But for now just go drink… Home. Just go home.

I love Charlie. He really means drink, wherever it is that you do that (for him it would be everywhere).

Rebecca Halliday: That stunt with the cameras, that wasn’t cool.
Charlie: Neither am I.

I think this was another meta thing, Sorkin is telling us he doesn’t care that he isn’t doing the cool thing — now I’m wishing this season was 13 episodes!

Will: They’re not gonna lock me up. I’m too big to jail.

It’ll be interesting to look at this in comparison to the infamous “too big to fail” quote. It would be too much of a coincidence to not look at that — I’m really hoping it’s something of an Easter Egg for those obsessive enough to transcribe (or read the transcriptions) although I doubt it.

Will: Why do we have a loser table?
Mac: Your friends.
Will: All right.

I thought he didn’t have friends! Still, a nice recall of the joke.

Jim: The Mets need speed. The Mets need power. The Mets need pitching. That’s what I’m thinking about right now.

Mets don’t need pitching or speed, JIM! I love that you like baseball but they need money, they need to move the fences in and they need competent management. Although that may be more than you can ask for. On April 22, 2013 the Mets were 9-8 (above .500) and in second place in the NL East, had great minor league pitching prospects and had some form of slim hope. Yes, I really did just look that up (that’s the kind of detail you get when I delay this blog for almost a week).

Jim: I would take any one of the three… Speed, power, or pitching.

If he stayed a Mets fan he did get one, pitching. And in the 2015 season he may get it the majority of the time (the future staff is looking promosing).

Maggie: Mac’s put it in the B block. When I asked her what story she felt was going to trump the end of the world, she said, “I don’t know, but I’m sure something will come up.”
Jim: So you want this to feel more like a Jim Harper segment and less like a Maggie Jordan segment?

This is a great exchange. This is what the Maggie-Jim relationship should have been like in episode three, not season three.

Maggie: There’s nothing unimportant in there.
Jim: Then what was the point of highlighting it?
Maggie: To amplify its importance.

It’s a personal pet peeve of mine when people highlight everything. If you signal everything is important than nothing is really important or stand out. I do like the famous Jim Collins quote: “If you have more than three priorities, then you don’t have any.” Same goes with highlighting.

Reese Lansing: I had a perfectly good idea.
Leona Lansing: No, you didn’t.
Charlie: What was it?
Reese: Poison them. Poison my half-brother and sister. Just go Shakespeare on their ass.

This has to appeal to Charlie. I also like that we got Shakespeare into this episode.

Charlie: Owning a news network’s cooler than owning a location detection software company.

I’m not sure that’s true and I especially don’t think that’s true in the silicon valley atmosphere that the buyer Lucas Pruit is supposed to be in. I could see a great newspaper (The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and maybe some others) carrying weight but that’s mainly in NYC or Washington DC dinner parties.

Will: Would you coven of knee-jerk, lefty bigots not condemn the man until after he’s said hello? I know he’s committed the unpardonable crime of making a lot of money, but perhaps in spite of his talent, hard work, and enormous accomplishments, he’s still a decent guy.
Charlie: Yeah, whose ideas are worth listening to.
Will: Yeah. Wait, what? He has ideas?

Why is that a surprise? It seems that the show has been a failure on all levels: financially (no money, no ratings), journalistically (Genoa) and socially (they can’t find a way to present the end of the world). Things have to change.

Will: We’re not going to the Correspondents’ Dinner.
Charlie: We are now.
Will: I can’t.
Charlie: The Justice Department is Friday night and the Correspondents’ Dinner is Saturday.
Mac: We can’t go because last year he railed against the Correspondents’ Dinner and said we’d no longer be going.
Charlie: Where?
Will: To the Correspondents’ Dinner.
Charlie: Where did you rail against it?
Will: On TV.
Charlie: What network?
Will: This one. My show.
Charlie: I think I remember now.
Mac: “ACN won’t be attending the Saturnalia of incestuous ingratiation”…
Charlie: Oh, brother.
Mac: “that does little to instill confidence in the public that the press isn’t ensorcelled by the powerful.”

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Charlie doesn’t watch every episode. This is also a problem when you make huge declarative statements that are always on the record. What do you have to gain from going against the Correspondents’ Dinner? It’s such a small thing that very few people even care about and is absolutely not information people need in the voters booth.

Charlie: Yeah, you got to eat it. Hope nobody remembers your on-air bacchanal of boisterous buffoonery

Just some showing off going on here, but that’s good — I think it works here.

Jim: This is the part I keep tripping on.
Hallie Shea: What’s that?
Jim: I’m still looking at your contract.
Hallie: 45K. 45 large, my young friend. 45 Grover Clevelands.
Jim: Grover Cleveland’s on the $1,000 bill?
Hallie: Back when we printed them. They’re not in circulation anymore, but imagine 45 of them.

Discontinued in 1969! Well before these guys were born. They are now worth more than $1,000 due to rarity and because everyone loves Grover Cleveland — OK, probably more the first reason.

Jim: The incentives.
Hallie: James, they’re not incentives, they’re bonuses.
Jim: For page views.
Hallie: Yeah.
Jim: The more page views you get, the more money you’re paid.
Hallie: Welcome to capitalism. We’re happy to have you.

Yes, this shouldn’t be shocking. I’m sure she also has bonuses for people thinking she did good work and they specify what type of stuff they want her to do, but this isn’t a non-profit.

Jim: If you’re writing about a cabinet secretary who testified in front of the House Oversight Committee, are you more likely to write about the content of the testimony or “Cabinet Secretary Blasts Darrell Issa”?

You can write both, and is it better to provide a little bit of information to a lot of people or a lot of info to only the ones who care enough to look for it (and probably have most of the information)? I’d lean toward the former.

Hallie: Will is paid millions of dollars a year and Murrow was paid the equivalent of millions of dollars a year for the same reason anyone in the private sector is paid anything… Their ability to make money for other people.
Jim: Will doesn’t get paid per view or per story.
Hallie: That’s either heart-stopping naiveté or denial.

I’m agreeing with Hallie more and more. Will’s contract doesn’t say anything about ratings or give bonuses for certain viewership? Possible, but I think unlikely.

Jim: If those reporters were being paid per person reading their story, the front page of the Times would look a lot different.
Hallie: And because it doesn’t look a lot different, there are a lot fewer people reading their stories.
Jim: Who, Hallie, gives a genuine shit how many people are reading a story if the story is hyped?

Jim seems to think the media tells people what to care about, I think it’s largely the opposite and media organizations have to be responsive to the public’s views — this means looking at traffic and ratings data.

Don: Gary Cooper, Alex Thacker, this is Wyatt Geary and he is the new VP of Human Resources for AWM.

This seems like Sorkin listening to critics, that’s probably a good thing — dropping a HR guy could be really good but I’m worried we don’t have the time.

Alex Thacker: You asked for 20 seconds of copy for Elliot on Justin Bieber visiting Anne Frank’s house.
Don: Why, you know, in the world would I do that?
Gary: Because Bieber signed the guestbook on his way out and wrote “Hopefully she would have been a Belieber.” And then you and Elliot got drunk and you told him you’d give him $100 if he could read the story off the prompter without laughing.
Don: Once again, this is the new HR rep for our parent company.
Alex: The copy should have been assigned to me, but Gary assigned it to Stacey.
Don: Once I give it to Gary, Gary gets to make that call.
Alex: Based on merit, not based on who he prefers to sleep with at any particular moment.
Gary: I’m not sleeping and I’ve never slept with Stacey.
Alex: That may or may not be, but probably is a lie. What we know for sure is Gary flirted with me, hit on me, took me out five times, slept with me twice, and then dumped me in a pile with the rest of the staffers he’s used for his pleasure.
Don: I can’t emphasize this enough… This is the new HR rep.

Why we need a HR rep. Great bit by Don. Also do people really remember how many times they go out with someone? I understand the first couple, and maybe even five, but at some point I just stop counting (like after three).

Alex: What I am not fine with is being passed over for an assignment at work because I exercised poor judgment in my personal life.
Gary: I gave it to her because she’s better at this kind of thing.
Alex: What kind of thing?
Gary: The intersection of pop culture and the Holocaust.

Don: I told Gary to give it to Stacey, all right? He is covering for me. I told him to give it to her because she is a better writer than you are.
Alex: Well, what am I supposed to do?
Don: Write better.

It’s absolutely true that different levels of writer are around the newsroom and sometimes you have people who just can’t write pop culture or hard news or seemingly do anything but you can’t phrase it like this. This was a very funny bit but “write better” is never good advice — I know that seems obvious but I’ve heard those very words being the only feedback given to young writers.

Wyatt: Fraternization between superiors and subordinates exposes the company to all kinds of problems, including the one you just saw.
Don: And we don’t tolerate it.

LOL! This tangled web of relationships is the only thing tolerated.

Wyatt: So if you and Sloan Sabbith were in a relationship, there’s a chance we’d have to move one of you to a different bureau. DC or LA.

I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve ever heard of a news organization moving someone to a completely different bureau just due to a relationship. Don can rest slightly easier.

Jim: Why do we have to write Will questions like it’s a sex test in Sex, you know, Magazine or something?

Apparently Sex Magazine is a real thing that exists. The more you know.

Jim: Did you know there are online news outlets that offer bonuses to their reporters for page views?
Maggie: Yes.
Jim: I didn’t know that.
Maggie: That’s because you live in the time of King Arthur along with Don, Will, and Charlie.

Maggie has gone from the dumbest person in every room she walks into to become the voice of reason and I seem to have missed the transition. She seems to be the only character to undergo any real sort of change in the season and we’re rushing it. I’m happy that it’s happening but it’s a little strange.

Jim: Leave it to you to find the only person in the world who can make money being ethical.

This line confused me a bit. Why would Maggie be that person? I wouldn’t say Don would fit that label, especially not old Don.

Will: Just so we know what we’re talking about, if you were a doctor and we were the patient, what’s your prognosis? 1,000 years? 2,000 years?
Richard Westbrook: A person has already been born who will die due to catastrophic failure of the planet.

Don’t ask questions you don’t know the answers to! Think saying “stay safe” to a reporter in Boston was bad? This is going to be a million times worse.

Will: You’re saying
the situation’s dire?
Richard: Not exactly. Your house is burning to the ground, the situation’s dire. Your house has already burned to the ground, the situation’s over.
Will: So what can we do
to reverse this?
Richard: There’s a lot we could do.
Will: Good.
Richard: If it were 20 years ago or even 10 years ago. But now… No.
Will: Can you make an analogy that might help us understand?
Sure. It’s as if you’re sitting in your car in your garage with the engine running and the door closed and you’ve slipped into unconsciousness.
Will: And that…
Richard: That’s it.
Will: What if someone comes and opens the door?
Richard: You’re already dead.
Will: What if the person got there in time?
Richard: You’d be saved.
Will: OK. So now what’s the CO2 equivalent of the getting there on time?
Richard: Shutting off the car 20 years ago.
Will: You sound like you’re saying it’s hopeless.
Richard: Yeah.

I’m not sure why, but I think this is so much better reading it than having it rapid fire on TV, although both are pretty good. I’m just leaving this here so that anyone can stumble upon it later (including myself).

Richard: Well, that’s the thing, Will. Americans are optimistic by nature. And if we face this problem head on, if we listen to our best scientists, and act decisively and passionately, I still don’t see any way we can survive.

This is such the opposite of what I think of when I think of Sorkin shows — the stirring speech, the optimism, the love story — but this is really just the other side of the coin. I think this character works when not in the stupid train scene.

Barry Lasenthal: I’ll see that your concerns make it straight to the children of undercover agents who’ve been killed when their identities were made known.
Mac: You’re bringing out your queen a little early, aren’t you?

This isn’t a chess match, you don’t have the same pieces and you don’t take turns.

Barry: But I wasn’t recruited by Nebraska, so I played fullback at A&M. And we lost to Nebraska all four years I was there.

I actually looked it up and I can’t find four straight years that Nebraska and Texas A&M played. The Cornhuskers are 10-4 against the Aggies. Also I would be surprised that Nebraska would be that much of a better football school than A&M, they were probably in the same conference back then.

Will: You come in here like Brian Dennehy. You’re at the other end of the table ’cause it’s some Jedi mind shit you were taught at a three-day seminar in Hilton Head. I was the one most apt to cooperate. The agents must have reported that to you. That’s the signal I was sending you. But you insulted our lawyer and you insulted my producer who happens to be my fiancée, which you also know. And you insulted Charlie Skinner, which your people would have told you wasn’t gonna make any of us happy. And you threatened to bankrupt us and to have the same PR operation that got 38 people killed turn Neal into a radical. Yeah, I moved the pieces so they’d end up looking like this. Except Neal’s supposed to be in a Super 8 in Bayonne, New Jersey, and not South America. And I did it because, while I have no doubt that you’d shake Neal up and down until he gave you the source, which would never happen, your jaw-dropping government overreach simply won’t extend to putting a TV star in jail for contempt. You bungled this and I can’t help you anymore.

I have to think this is the longest monologue of Will’s this season. He found his voice.

Sloan: Have you Googled my romantic history? I date guys called Mr. Chairman. I date first round draft picks, high second round if it’s a skill position. You think I’m dating the EP of a 10:00 PM newscast that barely outrates a rerun of Just Shoot Me?
Wyatt: I absolutely do. And I’m gonna nail you.

One of the things missing in the first two seasons was that the characters didn’t have worthy adversaries and seemed so stupid. For the moment, it’s actually seeming like Wyatt knows what he’s doing.

Charlie: What are you drinking?
Lucas Pruit: Unflavored Absolut Vodka with a capful of Schweppes Bitter Lemon poured over ice in a rocks glass.
Pruit’s assistant: They don’t have Schweppes Bitter Lemon.
Lucas: It eludes me why that should ever be the case, you know?

I really think the most fun part of Schwepps Bitter Lemon is saying “schweppes.” Glad it made it in here from West Wing.

Lucas: If I was a man with no choices, I’d kill myself.
Charlie: Well, I guess that means I have a choice, so…
Lucas: Would you like to talk about my intentions for the network?
Charlie: Yes, sir, I would.

I like the juxtaposition between the optimism of these guys and Mr. Pruit.

Lucas: Let me tell you what I’m about. Disruption. I can see fear in your eyes.
Charlie: There almost always is. What’s an example of disruption as it would apply to a news network?
Lucas: User-generated content. Crowdsourcing the news.
Charlie: I’ll tell you, Lucas, we just had in Boston…
Lucas: Boston was a bad instance of crowdsourcing, but it was still disruption. Why one channel? Why not 500? With no cost for content.
Charlie: No cost for content on the other 499? I’m just trying…
Lucas: I’m not talking about guys with head-cams in Syria. I don’t know. Maybe I am. A disaster channel. A stalker channel. I just did three. Now you.
Charlie: A channel where professionals investigate and report the news.

If he’s willing to bankroll all of those channels then that’s good for Charlie and the gang. You have to believe in your product and that you can out-rate the Danny Glover channel, if you can’t then all hope is lost anyway.

Charlie: I’m looking forward to talking more about this.
Lucas: No, you’re not, but you will anyway.

True, I don’t hate Lucas Pruit.

Eli Shapiro: Mr. McAvoy, this is a subpoena for you to be sworn in before an investigative grand jury at 1 St. Andrew’s Plaza, Monday, April 29 at 10:00 a.m.

Had to see this coming. I’m getting a bit sick of the Neal/source storyline but you had to see the subpoena coming… hopefully they get past this story soon.

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~ by realfactsandbeer on November 30, 2014.

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