Newsroom Season 3 Episode 6: What a day it has been

This is late but this is the final episode of the Newsroom and I wanted to put everything in one post (instead of like 20 different posts) and start deciding on the future of this blog. Nothing has been decided but I’m sure things are changing.

Overall: I was pretty disappointed by this episode, it seemed disjointed and strange throwbacks to things I didn’t care about — overall it made me more OK with the show ending but also yelling “That’s it?!?” at the TV.

Will McAvoy: Ellen! Ellen!
Random employee: He means you.
Maggie Jordan: Excuse me, sir. Do you mean me?
Will: Who the hell do I mean when I say your name?
Maggie: I’m Maggie. Margaret. Maggie’s fine.
Will: I need Ellen.
Maggie: Does anyone know someone named — I don’t think there’s anyone here named Ellen.
Will: I can’t keep track. Karen I think her name is.
Maggie: I don’t think there’s anyone named Karen here either.
Will: My assistant. She sits right over there.
Maggie: I’m your assistant now. You promoted me last week.
Will: I have no memory of that.
Maggie: You fired Ellen and then forgot that you did and thought I was Ellen.

So in this flashback we’re showing bad Will, but I don’t want to go to a character I’ve never known in a big time change in the last episode. Also this brought to mind the fact that Jeb Bartlett never remembered names, which took me down a rabbit hole deep enough to get buried in so I’ll move on.

Will: Don, the storm is now causing record flooding in New England.
Don Keefer: We’ll drop that into the copy.
Will: And clear out the block.
Don: The whole block?
Will: Yeah.
Don: That means throwing out Moscow.
Will: Remind me.
Don: A pair of suicide bombers attacked two subway stations, 38 dead, officials think it was Chechen rebels fighting–
Will: Record flooding, FEMA’s saying 200,000 people in Rhode Island could be affected.
Don: Yeah, it’s raining in Providence. Everyone’s gonna be okay. You really want the whole block?
Will: Yes.

I thought Don was supposed to be the person pushing for ratings… this is just backtracking on any growth we thought Keefer made as a character and reminded us of what a mess Maggie was (although I’m still not sure where she is in the final season — is she the next Mac?)

Will: It’s been several days since I asked Don Keefer to have the website do a poll on Obamacare so I could do a segment on the poll.
Neal Sampat: Yeah, Don spoke to me about that and I wasn’t sure what kind of poll question you were looking for.
Will: Really?
Neal: Yeah.
Will: Do you favor Obamacare?
Neal: Are you sure that’s a good idea?
Will: What’s the problem?
Neal: For one thing, it hasn’t been implemented yet.
Will: I know that.
Neal: It’s just that polling is a science and this wouldn’t be a proper —
Will: What are you talking about?
Neal: If you want to spend the money on polling —
Will: Just ask the question, give the answer to graphics. They’ll put it up on the screen, I’ll talk about it with a guest.
Neal: I’m just trying to protect the integrity of the website.
Will: It’s a website. It doesn’t have integrity.

Pretty ridiculous on multiple accounts. I thought Will didn’t know he even has a blog but he knows about the website and is suggesting features? Doing a poll before something is implemented is common — it’s especially important to see if after it launched did things change. Not every poll has to be a scientific study of what all Americans/voters/populations of people think about something — they can be for fun, they can show you what audience you have and it might tell you something about a bigger thing. I resent the implication that a website doesn’t have integrity because it’s a website — a medium isn’t what brings credence to things, the message does.

Charlie Skinner: So I was at their house last weekend and I wander out to the garage and see Bo teaching “That’s How I Got to Memphis” to his friends. And I ask him, “What’s a kid from New Rochelle doing singing about Memphis?” He said, “Memphis is a stand-in for wherever you are right now.” That it really means that’s how I got here.

This is pretty heavy handed, you had to know Will and Jim Harper would be playing this song with Charlie’s family. That in itself isn’t bad but it seemed like the song itself was a strange fit here.

Charlie: Have you ever thought about having kids?
Will: You mean adopting?
Charlie: Adopting, abducting. Meeting somebody, getting married. Whatever it takes.
Will: I haven’t considered abducting anyone, but I’ve thought about the others.
Charlie: And?
Will: Well, first of all, I’m now in my 50s and I need to consider that I’m gonna die and will my kid be old enough to handle it when I do?
Charlie: There’s no age at which you’re okay with your father dying.
Will: But there’s a difference between being an adult and dropping a piano on a kid.
Charlie: You don’t look to me like you’re gonna die anytime soon. And if you got hit by an ice cream truck, they’d still have you as a father for a while.
Will: Yeah, I’m not sure that’s a prize.
Charlie: Why?
Will: I’ve read plenty of experts who say that whatever undiagnosed shit my father has can be hereditary.
Charlie: Your father’s an alcoholic, you’re not.
Will: I’m talking about — He’s obviously lived his life with some kind of severe depression.
Charlie: Your depression isn’t chemical.
Will: Who says I’m depressed?
Charlie: I do.

I’ve had a lot of deep conversations and I’ve had many conversations over drinks/at a bar but I’ve never had one like this. Was the point just to reinforce that Will and Charlie are true friends? That’s either been established in the first two seasons or we need to forget about it. A short PSA: Try not to talk about alcoholism in a bar, it’s not the place for it.

Charlie: The president in his first visit to Afghanistan as the president meets with Hamid Karzai. And then I couldn’t believe the words that came out of your mouth next. “We’ll have two top campaign strategists here in the studio to debate the war right after this.”
Will: They were good guests.
Charlie: What in the hell are we doing having two campaign hacks from the D-triple-C and the RNC on our air debating America’s longest war when you know as well as I know that they know exactly as much as what’s printed in their talking points?
Will: Who would you have preferred?
Charlie: Anybody from AEI, Brookings, Heritage, Cato. Anybody from State or Defense. Anybody from House or Senate Foreign Relations. At the very least you could get the guy who wrote the talking points.
Will: There’s a midterm election coming up.
Charlie: In six months. So why do you book a red guy and a blue guy? For the fight.

Eh, I’m not sure having any sort of talking heads is a decent way of conveying policy even if they are from Brookings, Cato, the state department or especially a politician. Everyone in that group is just going through talking points. Why not just axe the guests? Also being six months away from the midterms doesn’t mean much anymore — the campaigns were well into full swing.

MacKenzie McHale: I’m seven weeks pregnant and there’s like a five in nine chance that it’s yours.
Will: I don’t care if there’s no chance it’s mine. It’s mine now. Couple of questions.
Mac: Give them to me.
Will: Are you feeling all right? Should you be standing up? Is it all right for you to be outdoors?
Mac: I feel great and I’m allowed to be outdoors for the first eight weeks.
Will: Feels like that was a joke, but I can’t tell.
Mac: It was.
Will: Moratorium on jokes for the next week and seven months. Have you had an amnio?
Mac: In between getting off the phone and talking to you? No, I was going to use the amnio room in the chapel, but they were out of really long needles.
Will: What rule did I just make about jokes?
Mac: I don’t think you’re gonna be making rules for a while.

Not surprised but OK with the fact that Mac is pregnant. This was some nice dialogue and I liked it right outside a funeral — it didn’t feel heavy handed in comparison to the other stuff.

Jim: That was a nice service. Episcopalians know what they’re doing. I thought Will was gonna give the eulogy, but —
Maggie: Pipe down a second.
Jim: Okay.
Maggie: Terry Smith wants me to come down and interview for a field producer job in DC. A field producer job in DC.
Jim: I know.
Maggie: How do you know?
Jim: I’m the one who recommended you.
Maggie: When?
Jim: Yesterday. She called and said, “Who’s ready for a promotion? Who’s the best you’ve got?” I said Gary. Then Tess. Kendra, Tamara, then Martin. And then I said, “But Maggie Jordan is the sixth best we’ve got. You couldn’t do any better than Maggie unless you went with one of the other five.” I’m kidding. I said, “You’ve got to take Maggie.” Well, I have to go down to DC tomorrow to interview. You’re gonna get it.

They tell us that Maggie is better than those five but I haven’t been shown anything to prove that. At this point, I’m completely conflicted on if I like Jim or not — I’ve gone back and forth in the past — he seems to constantly be working against himself.

Leona Lansing: Two days ago the story from Valleywag comes out saying you pay women at Kwench less than men. And then yesterday a story in The New York Observer says you hired hookers for your 35th birthday party.
Lucas Pruit: It didn’t say that. It said I hired models for my party.
Leona: Mm. Any of the models men?
Pruit: No.
Leona: So you hired young women to be guests at your party.
Pruit: It’s not uncommon.
Mac: It’s not?
Leona: Were these women given dress codes?
Pruit: The whole party had a dress code.
Leona: The invitation said suggested dress.
Pruit: You got hold of an invitation?
Leona: So was the dress code for these young women suggested or was it mandatory?
Pruit: The women weren’t hired for sex. I don’t expect you to understand this. They were hired to be living art.
Leona: First of all, you shouldn’t expect anyone to understand that. Second, you need to know that every time you try to explain it, you just make it worse.

Wow, women issues am I right? Some Sorkin meta stuff going on here but this isn’t the same thing, you need to make Pruit’s situation much worse to force the head of a company into action — people still have relatively short memories.

Charlie: I was able to get in touch with your friend Jim Harper and he told me that at 11:00 AM on a Monday I could find you at the Lucky Strike Bowling Lanes. Then he said, “Yeah, you heard me right.” And that was pretty much it. You’re serious about bowling?
Mac: I just took it up recently. I bowled a strike once when I was a little girl and it seems to me if you can do it once, then you should be able to do it 12 times in a row, which would be a perfect game.

This just makes Mac look stupid and makes Charlie seem desperate but we don’t have something that started this (was it talking about the weather) and the timeline is pretty difficult to keep up with.

Mac: Well, haters gonna hate.
Charlie: That’s not your first beer today, is it?
Mac: I’m not sure, but I think the reason I’ve been drinking lately is to numb the feeling of despair.
Charlie: If you were thinking clearly, you probably would have asked me by now why I came down to Washington to talk to you.

Charlie judging people’s day drinking habits? WHAT!? Mac saying haters going to hate? Really out of character. Also isn’t saying “the reason I’ve been drinking lately is to numb the feeling of despair” a little on the nose?

Don: Market Rip-off With Sloan Sabbith.
Sloan: Wrap-up.
Don: I’m kidding. It’s just what we call —
Sloan: Yeah.
Don: It’s not a joke about you or the show.
Sloan: I understand.
Don: It’s more about how the banks play it a little fast and loose with subprime mortgages.
Sloan: It’s fine. On dayside we call you the executive producer of Train Wreck With Will McAvoy.
Don: It’s not as clever as Market Rip-off ’cause it doesn’t have the same alliterative relationship to the — You know what? How can I help you?
Sloan: Friday night you had Rothstein on. It was right after the totally newsworthy segment on the season finale of 24.
Don: It was the series finale. And do you have a problem with Jack Bauer?
Sloan: I’ve got a problem with Jake Rothstein and now I’ve got a problem with Will McAvoy.
Don: Sounds like your problem with Will started before last night.
Sloan: It did, but that’s neither here nor there. Rothstein said it’s perfectly legitimate for their firm, referring to Goldman, to have sold off those toxic assets that were exposing them to risk. “The people who bought them from us should have known better.”
Don: You did that without notes.
Sloan: Yeah. And you know what McAvoy’s follow-up was? “We’ll be right back after this.”
Don: You’d have liked to have seen a tougher follow-up.
Sloan: Tough-er?
Don: You’d have liked to have seen a tough follow-up.
Sloan: Or any. How about this: “Wasn’t the twisted brilliance of the big banks that they managed to conceal a bunch of subprime mortgages inside a collection of other more legitimate mortgage-backed securities”?
Don: That wasn’t a loaded question?
Sloan: I’ll deload it. How would these customers know that these assets were toxic since the established companies gave them a triple-A rating?
Don: You have your own show and you’re free to ask your guests any questions you’d like.
Sloan: And I would have, but my guest, Jacob Rothstein, was poached by your booker so your boss could ask him if he watches 24. This is one of the people who caused the crash and is freely roaming the countryside.
Don: Sloan, you came down here and insulted my anchor and demanded to know why we didn’t prepare a better interview. Let me add this to the conversation. For two years I’ve been listening to people like you say they can’t believe no one’s been prosecuted for these Wall Street crimes, and after two years, I’m still fuzzy on what crime was committed and who should be prosecuted for it. You’re a financial news reporter who gets to spend an hour on one subject and I’m at least an average consumer of news and you have failed to get me to understand what you’ve called the most important story of the last 10 years. So after you get done telling me how badly we did our job last night, you may want to do an internal investigation of your own work.

A good point by Don, it’s an especially difficult for wonky people (be it economics or any stat heavy field) to put stuff in a way an average consumer can understand and I find it impossible to believe that a high-ranking Goldman person would willingly walk into that ambush.

Charlie: I’ve watched tape and during the short time you two worked together at CNN, you were onto something.

Now my timeline is all jumbled up. When were they both at CNN? I can’t keep the dates straight.

Mac: There was a time when journalism wasn’t a career, it was a calling.

Many people still think it’s a calling and I bet that many people back then thought of it as a career and NOT a calling.

Pruit: I have a plan, Leona. I’m not improvising. I’ve been up all night with the most expensive PR people in New York. I’m gonna speak to the 10,000 Women Initiative at the Clinton Foundation. I’m sponsoring the Matrix Awards for Women Leadership in Communication. And Business Insider is gonna do a profile on me in which I will be likable.

This is a common mistake, you don’t fix bad press with good press — you generally can only fix bad press with time and then (maybe) with some new news. Stop the bleeding and wait to see if this storm passes.

Leona: You have a PR problem because you have an actual problem.

But you can’t fix the actual problem. No matter if you promote one person that doesn’t solve the larger issue.

Sloan: Markets rely on Standard & Poor’s to objectively rate debt. But the companies that want a favorable debt rating are the same companies that pay Standard & Poor’s. You follow so far? Don: Yeah.
Sloan: Banks wrote a ton of bad mortgages to people they knew were going to default. It’s called predatory lending. Then hid those bad mortgages inside good mortgages to shine up the books for S&P, which gave them triple-A ratings. Then they’d bundle the whole thing and sell the debt to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which is owned by–
Don: You and me.
Sloan: Yes. And then the banks bet on those loans defaulting. Not that much different from fixing a college basketball game except a ton of people wind up broke and homeless. Those people can’t buy things anymore, so businesses start going out of business and more people are broke. When you start eliminating consumers, you start eliminating jobs, which eliminates consumers, which eliminates jobs, which eliminates consumers, and you see where this is going?

That wasn’t all that easy to follow and Don’s point was explain it on your show (maybe with a slowed volume) and not JUST explain it to people who already know.

Sloan: Would it be forward if I asked a man if he wanted to get a cup of coffee? I was kind of in his face and then it turned out he got a demotion, so and if he says no, then I’ve got to come to work with him every day.

Is this the definition of a stupid question, GATHER YE ROSEBUDS!

Mac: What happened here?
Jim: Most of the furniture was Audrey’s. Some of it was mine, but she liked it.
Mac: And so you gave away your furniture?
Jim: Seemed like the least I could do.
Mac: She didn’t take it well.
Jim: She called me a Lost Boy.

But she still takes the furniture? It seems like Jim would make an awful friend (that he isn’t trying to sleep with). We’re supposed to think Jim has grown because all of a sudden he’s OK with long distance relationships, that’s what he’s overcome in three seasons? Something that we didn’t even know about until midway through the series finale? Sorry, I can’t buy that.

Bree: Are you Neal?
Neal: Yeah.
Bree: Welcome back, man.
Neal: “The Nine Most Overrated Movies of All Time.”
Bree: We thought it would be fun.
Neal: For who?
Bree: For movie fans. Look, I know this —
Neal: And I saw you went all the way back to The Matrix.
Bree: Yeah.
Neal: 1999.
Bree: Yeah.
Neal: All time and 14 years are two different units of measurement. But my question is why is overrated more fun than, say, underrated? You embarrass me.
Bree: I what?
Neal: It took me a long time to build ACN Digital. I was laughed at by the people in this newsroom. People I respect didn’t respect what I did around here, but I built this into a tool that gathered, expanded on, and disseminated information that’s useful. I kept telling my colleagues and my bosses that the Internet is user sensitive just like most things. And I’ve watched from 1,000 miles away while you proved that. You embarrass me. Build a page that says the site’s down for repair.
Web dev: For an hour?
Neal: For a week. We’re gonna rebuild the whole thing.

Does Neal want people to call classics overrated? The 10 most overrated movies are probably all from the last 20 years (no, I won’t actually made this list). Why wouldn’t they do all those lists? Overrated, underrated and all of that stuff? People like lists, it makes points easy to go with and, again, the medium isn’t really the issue here. How is the site going to be down FOR A WEEK? An hour of planned downtime is awful and you can’t just have an under construction page for ACN digital — you always build a beta while you are still working on this site.

Nancy Skinner: He was praying you were gonna fight him on it. The last seven weeks were hell for him since Leona sold the network to Pruit. He wasn’t angry that you guys were fighting him. He was counting on it. He loved you, Don. And he was so proud of you. I doubt you killed him. That had to be hard to say to me and I appreciate it, but I don’t care. I care what you did for him while he was alive.

Is this supposed to be a surprise? You had to know a monologue like this was coming and I’m just sad it had to come from a new character that we didn’t know/care about until this point.

Gary Cooper: You know what I always thought would be fun if I was a parent? You teach your kid something wrong like wood comes from birds and you see how long you can keep it going. They’re all grown up and at a dinner party and people are admiring the table and your kid says, “It took a lot of sparrows to make that table.

I think this is the best bit of the whole episode, by a lot. If we’re doing a spinoff I vote that Gary is the main character.

Jim: Cancel the interview in DC.
Maggie: Why?
Jim: I’m the new EP of News Night and my first move is making you senior producer.
Maggie: Seriously?
Jim: Yeah.
Maggie: Congratulations! That’s sensational.
Jim: Thank you.
Magie: I’m incredibly flattered, but I’m going to interview for the other job.
Jim: Why?
Maggie: I want to be a field producer. It’s DC. I’ll be in line for the White House.
Jim: Is this because I recommended you for the job — and then wasn’t upset enough that you– Maggie: No.
Jim: Then why wouldn’t you want to be senior producer?
Maggie: I want to be a field producer. It’s DC. I’ll be in line for the White House. Did you not hear me the first time?
Jim: Fine.
Maggie: Fine?
Jim: It was a big deal. I don’t care how many days it’s been and I’m not delusional either. It is more than it is.
Maggie: It is to me, too.
Jim: Really?
Maggie: Yeah. I just said those things.
Jim: You’ll stay in New York?
Maggie: No. I’m going to interview for the job in DC. You know why?
Jim: I’ll take the last plane every Friday night after the show and then the first plane back on Mondays.
Maggie: Or sometimes I could come to New York.
Jim: Or meet in the middle of New Jersey.
Maggie: That’s right.
Jim: Yeah.
Maggie: Have you had a lot of long-distance relationships?
Jim: Yes.
Maggie: Have any of them worked?
Jim: No.

This is a nice stretch that shows a bunch of things I can’t stand about Jim, I guess it’s good that Maggie stood up for herself but I wish she had a better reason for going to DC: I want to succeed without everyone around, I want to do specific things that I couldn’t do there, I want to make contacts or something. The last part is just stupid.

Will: I have faith.
Mac: Why?
Will: There’s a hole in the side of the boat. That hole is never going to be fixed and it’s never going away and you can’t get a new boat. This is your boat. What you have to do is bail water out faster than it’s coming in. Also, I have to not die. That’s crucial.
Mac: It’s always gonna be something with you, isn’t it?

Is this just an awful impression of the guy in the hole speech. No, can’t except that but let’s just put in the video of that speech

Sigh, I miss Leo.

Newsroom ended up being closer to Studio 60 than West Wing or Sports Night and that’s sad and will be disappointing in the moment but hopefully we can look upon it later with greater clarity and it will seem better.


~ by realfactsandbeer on December 18, 2014.

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