The Newsroom (Season 1, Episode 2)

Coming off a strong pilot, some shows fall into a trap of attempting to recreate the magic of its premier in the process ignoring story development. Others begin their development in ways that steer too far away from the pilot that it leaves the viewer questioning whether the pilot was in fact as strong as it seemed. “The Newsroom” balances between these two potentials disastrous outcomes, and succeeds in retaining its audience, including myself in this case, for future episodes by allowing them to invest in the show’s characters in a more substantial way than most other shows.

This episode looks to provide history to some of our characters. By attempting to draw parallels between some of the major characters in the show, I felt it stepped off the gas, falling into cliché story arches that shows which put on the façade of being innovative tend to do. Its kind of a shame because the stories Aaron Sorkin, the creator of the show, attempts to stitch together in some way are independently very interesting stories. To cheapen it by tying everything together at the end of the episode makes me wonder whether this will be a running theme for the rest of the series.

Battlestar Galactica and The West Wing fell into similar traps, while a show like The Wire could have done so as well, but managed to avoid that fate. For example, in The West Wing, every episode would introduce a conflict, and the characters, as they had been developed over time, managed to address the conflict by the end of the episode allowing the show to move onto new issues in the next episode.

Mackenzie does in this episode explain that the news team would not be covering the topic they covered in the first episode to the same degree, claiming that they were trying to push the news as the immediate objective rather than fluffy pieces with political and ideological spin, and they do cover new topics in this episode, however there is more to this show than the news, and I hope they dive more into a serialized story rather than the episodic style.

To me, serialized stories which are rich in plot and complex characters is what separates decent but mediocre shows from masterpieces. The Wire is a masterpiece, and “Battlestar Galactica” could have been a masterpiece if not for a lot of episodes which fell into the trap of segments being dedicated to a formulaic “problem of the week”. I believe “Friday Night Lights” was a great example of approaching the serialized element while maintaining some semblance of pace and digestibility  If “The Newsroom” can carve out a niche of its own, and do so in a way that allows its characters to develop with the story rather than through stunted stories spanning no more than a week, it will live up to its potential. I have high expectations for this show, but I am fairly sure it will be able to deliver it.

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