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The Newsroom Recap: Don Quixote Rides Again

Dear Rhonda,

I know on HelpMeRhonda.com you usually only give relationship advice for person-person couplings — loved your note last week telling the Middle Eastern freedom fighter to fight for his soul mate, even if he’s thousands of miles away; amen! — but I’m hoping you can help me out with a different kind of relationship.

So, there’s this show, and it’s done nothing but disappoint me for ten weeks. I had such high hopes. I’ve known certain members of its family for a while, and its older siblings are great — fast-talkers with hearts of gold, just the way I like ‘em. But this one’s trying too hard to be everyone else in the family. It tells some of the same stories, makes some of the same jokes, and has some of the same characteristics, except they don’t all fit together into one genuine seeming whole. It’s like it came out of the womb with an inferiority complex.

And yet, I’ve devoted myself to it for nearly three months, hoping it’ll start treating me with a modicum of respect. I thought I owed that to its dad, who’s been so nice to me in the past. This week was its last chance — I wasn’t going to see it again for a long time.

But it seems incapable of change. It’s the same mix of sanctimonious melodrama week in and week out. I don’t dread hanging out with it, I guess, but it’s like a filler friend, the kind of person you make plans to see while you’re eating, because you like eating with somebody, no matter who it is. But you never think to see it when there’s something better to do.

My question: What do I do? When it comes back to town — and it will — should I make plans to see it again? Or do I walk away, relying on others to tell me if it ever got better?

Sincerely,

Jilted Sorkinophile

Dear Jilted,

It sounds like the show is a mediocrity undeserving of your time. Dump it.

With love,

Rhonda

 The final rundown:

  • This episode’s nested structure of flashbacks added little besides a scattered timeline. Newsroom’s direction has actually been one of the few parts of the show that hasn’t been an issue. The structure has, at times, even seemed elegant. But the flashbacks ruined the little suspense this episode offered. Will’s threat not to come back to News Night was empty on its face, as we already knew Will came back to the show. It’s like Sorkin, for whom plot twists are to be avoided the way MacKenzie stays away from jellyfish, was nervous viewers might turn the show off the moment they thought Will was going to quit. (The horror!) Too bad, really, since a showless Will would actually make an interesting plot and character development going into season two. Newsroom 2: A newsman in exile.
  • Lonnie and MacKenzie’s Hansel and Gretel hunt for Will — follow the blood-crumbs! — is far more disgusting once you realize the trail of blood is actually just a trail of vomit.
  • Only MacKenzie would see the love of her life gaunt and stricken in a hospital bed and assault him. First with a magazine, then with a pillow. If she really wanted to do damage, she should have used something weightier — like Will’s self-regard.
  • What passes for romance between MacKenzie and Will: “You’re coming back if I have to chop you up, put you in a duffel bag, and reassemble you at the anchor desk.”
  • You know a show’s bad when its characters explicate each other’s psychological nuance to each other. MacKenzie to Will: “That’s a child’s answer.” Sloan to Don: “You’re just not [a bad guy].” If only other characters did this. Jim to Maggie: “I know you’re a nervous person because your mouth is doing that twitchy thing.” Will to MacKenzie: “You may be flighty but your blatant attempt to mother me while I’m sick suggests you truly love me.” Maggie to Lisa: “Your willingness to do anything for your best friend and her soulmate borders on the masochism of a convenient plot device.”
  • What would Sloan have done with the $4 million from her new job? She admits she has no friends, no social life, and no real interest to do anything but study economic indicators. Not only does that mean she’d be miserable as a venture capitalist — VCs aren’t exactly hanging on Ben Bernanke’s every word — but it means she’d have a lot of money and nowhere to spend it. Besides Hang Chew’s.
  • That Sex and the City bit left me feeling like I had been run over by a Sex and the City tour bus. Woof. At least Maggie forgot to put on her tutu before she left the restaurant.
  • All this talk about Will being a Keith Olbermann character before Newsroom premiered obscured his real doppelgänger until last night. A Republican who believes conservatism has lost its way, that the military should be small, that Sarah Palin has hijacked the party with her lies, and that religion has no place in the public sphere? He’s Andrew Sullivan. Just less British.
  • RIP, Solomon Deepthroat. May you eat your overly sweet beef stew — brown sugar and ketchup! — for the rest of your days.
  • As usual, the show brightened considerably the moment Ms. Leona Fonda appeared on screen. Reese’s panicked gulp of that water — with lemon, naturally — was a subtle comedic touch. And Charlie’s fabricated list of Reese’s hacking targets was exactly as lame as Reese would have made it: MacKenzie, Howard Stern, Casey Anthony’s lawyers, relatives of Somali pirate victims … and that’s it. It’s a miracle TMI brings in $80 million in revenue.
  • To prove that he’s changed over the last ten episodes, Will finds the same girl he berated ten episodes ago and berates her again. “You're the girl, right? You asked me that moronic question. You ruined my life.” But, see, he has changed — he’s willing to hire her now. He’s so much cuddlier after a season of bile. Must be the ulcer.
  • Good Sorkin: “I don’t know. I don’t care. I like Jell-O.”
  • Weird Sorkin: “Pussyass cowardass pussified pussies.”
  • Sexist Sorkin: Will, to Maggie: “You look terrible. I’ve never seen you look so bad.” (Maggie leaves.) “I was being supportive!”
  • Namedrops: Disappointingly few, for this, our last merry go round. Columbo, Dulcinea in Don Quixote, Sancho in Don Quixote, Don Quixote in Don Quixote, Don Quixote, Camelot, Allen West, Grover Norquist, and a whole bunch of other Republicans … and could that possibly be it? What’d I miss?
  • Next Sunday night, in the wake of the Newsroom, watch something great. Like the news. Or just Breaking Bad. Not even Neal has found better trolls on the Internet than you guys. It’s been a pleasure.
Photo: Patrick Harbron/HBO