'The Newsroom' 2.1: Sorkin is a master plagiarist…of himself

“My name is Aaron Sorkin and I can’t stop robbing myself.”

Glad you enjoyed the season premier so much, Adam. I, too, noted the new opening credit sequence. I’m wondering if it has something to do with the show swapping house directors.

Last season it was comedy-minded Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland) setting the tone. This season—at least judging by this one episode—it looks like frequent HBO collaborator Alan Poul is on board to give the show the sedated house style.

That could ultimately be a good thing, as Sorkin’s writing has the best chance at soaring when there’s someone on the ground to hold the kite. (The Social Network and Moneyball, which Sorkin co-wrote, come to mind as examples.)

But I’m surprised you didn’t mention the appearance of News Night’s own intern, that pretty college coed who reawakened McAvoy’s irascibility by asking him why America was the best country in the world all the way back in episode 1. She seems to be still paying off the debt for her innocently dumb question. Seriously, we treat our interns way better (don’t we?). We actually let you guys do stuff other than drop off dry cleaning and look up trivia like who won the Tony for best musical back in Nineteen-Who-Gives-A-Crap.

By the way, Adam, where’s my chilled orange soda with a cherry twist? This oversight will not stand.

Anyway, I was not nearly as impressed by this ep as you, young Padawan. I do like that News Night seems headed for a needed humbling, but the fictional “Genoa” lawsuit shouldn’t be the one Sorkin concerns himself with. I personally can’t wait for Sorkin the Oscar-winner and Sorkin the West Wing Emmy-winner to team up and sue Sorkin the Newsroom creator for ripping them both off. The whole using-a-deposition-to-bookend-the-action was already used—quite well, I should say—in The Social Network and in a couple of episodes of The West Wing. Hell, maybe Sorkin even applied it on Sports Night. Anyone remember that show? Sorkin’s a gifted writer, but if he’s already plagiarizing himself, this season is going to feel like one long, strange deja vu trip. Or like the remaining Who wheezing through “Baba O’Riley” for the umpteenth time.

I’ll be curious to see what Dave has to write about the whole Occupy Wall Street subplot. You’re right, Adam, the OWS crowd did come off like entitled fools. Sorkin tried to have it both ways with this scene. Occupiers look like bumbling dolts. But then he allows their attractive (non)leader to deliver a devastating, foot-noted takedown of the media’s Goldman Sachs scrutiny. And THEN Sorkin has blogger Neal (Dev Patel) accurately predict Occupy’s credibility problem if it can’t pick an issue and stick with it. How many tails is that swallowing?

Other thoughts:

  • I so don’t care about the Jim-Maggie relationship, to the point that I actually screamed those words any time they started casting longing, conflicted glares at each other.
  • The press flak who keeps Jim off the Romney bus for McAvoy’s Tea Party dig. First of all, I didn’t know the Romney-bot identified so much with Tea Partiers when the cameras weren’t on. And secondly, how would we handle that kind of blatant denial at SN&R, Dave?
  • Will the two minor black characters ever get names, or more than a couple lines of dialogue in a row? Can’t wait until News Night “covers” the Trayvon Martin story to find out.

Here’s one thing Newsroom did get dead-on right: Mackenzie’s post-show order of Jameson on the rocks. After watching the premier, I think I need one myself.

Grade: C+

Previous episode blogs:

Adam Khan on 2.1.

Season 1 recap.

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