The new promo for The Newsroom finds our noble heroes out in the desert, with only their romantic nonsense and surreal levels of hubris as shelter. It is grandiose and dramatic!
The show’s self-regard borders on parody. And in this case, it borders on the greatest parody of the modern age: Mr. Show’s 1996 dead-on spoof of Jesus Christ, Superstar called Jeepers Creepers, Semi-Star. It stars Jack Black in the faux-Jesus role.
Yes, plenty of the movie of Jesus Christ, Superstar is set in the desert, but the opening segment of the film and the opening part of Jeepers Creepers differ in a key way: In JCS, a throng of hippies unload a bunch of stuff from a bus, including metal bowls, giant baskets of guns, and a massive cross. In Jeepers, though, they unload an old (even by nineties standards) television, which is how we can tell Newsroom is saluting Jeepers and not the original JCS. (Or the even more original Bible. No TVs in the Bible.)
Further, the opening lines of Jeepers are: “Who, the what, the when, the where, the why, the who?” An anthem for a newscast if ever there were! And then there’s Jeepers’s reluctance to be a Jesus figure. “Hey man, why can’t you commit? / Stop walking the line,” David Cross’s character implores. “Your people need some leadership.” That might as well be Mackenzie begging Will to take on a more powerful leadership position in the world of news.
Now that we’ve proved conclusively that the Newsroom promo is a Jeepers homage, what else can we draw from this stunningly obvious overlap? Well for one, perhaps we’re meant to feel more ambivalent toward Will. In season one, he’s presented as an unquestioned — though reluctant — messiah, the one true path to righteousness, and the only man brave enough to talk about what America should be like. But maybe he’s more of a Jeepers, someone whose advice is more like “always be happy / except when you’re sad” — a guy who can’t lead in addition to not wanting to in the first place.
If Will is Jeepers, this promo foreshadows his being told to leave — a not-so crazy prediction, really, since Will frequently picks fights with the higher-ups. The only question that remains is which Newsroom character will be the first this season to say “check this shit ouuuutttt.”