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The Newsroom 1.10: The Greater Fool

Brian's magazine piece puts Will in a dangerous state, then Mac in a right tizzy, then me in a sort of open-mouthed stare. (They didn't think the guy who thought Mac cheated on him with Will would write a scathing piece? Okay.)

In Mac and Will's absence, Sloan and Don decide to take a leadership role in the newsroom by filling the utter vacuum of sexual tension with some really solid work. Sloan has some career decisions to make, and she makes them.

Will and the team produce and air an episode exploring the voter ID laws and skewering the Tea Party.

TMI's Nina Howard locates her conscience, to the extent that she tells Mac she's about to run a story on Will. (Not to the extent that she won't do it.) Will and Charlie deduce Nina's source and use Solomon Hancock's information to their benefit.

Jim and Maggie continue to be Jim and Maggie.

Comments

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marymary
Aug. 27th, 2012 04:44 am (UTC)
LOVED:

- Sloan and Don. THAT'S what I'm talkin about. Ok, a little too on the nose ("You never asked me out."), but both of them had the right tension, a realistic reticence, and great timing. It was sort of thrilling! I felt that, you know? And for maaaybe only the second time in this series. *slow clap*

- Also, Sloan and Jim, side by side, reacting to Don's news that he was going to ask Maggie to move in -- brilliant moment.

- Jim, challenged to come up with office gossip: "They put Fresca in the vending machines....The vending machines have Fresca." HA! That's my favorite Sorkin reference so far. Awesome.

- Mac, pulling the pillow from under Will's head, to hit Jim with. I often hate the physical humor on this show, but that was great.

- Maggie's rant at the Sex in the City bus. Ok, the rant itself was silly and unrealistic. But the CONTENT -- Brava. She covered a lot of what I hated about SATC.

- Will, admitting to being high: "Could not feel my face." In place of a "yes." LOL the delivery was perfect.

- Jane Fonda and Sam Waterston were both great in this episode.

HATED

- Just...Emily Mortimer. I'm ready to call it -- can't stand her in this role. I've absolutely loved her in other things, but holy mother of god, her very voice is starting to grate.

1. In the hospital room, trying to get Jim to lift Will's spirits. SO awkward and stupid. "Look, it's Jim! From where we work!" UGH.. I know it was written for her, but it's half her fault.

2. SHE HAS IT IN HER HANDS? The big pad of paper she held up to Will, at Northwestern, what...18 months ago? She has it IN HER HANDS? Well, I guess she's learned from Will, who's apparently kept her unused engagement ring in his top drawer since 2006 -- you gotta keep those sentimental items within reach at all times.

3. "You're melting, aren't you? Your heart is full. Just say what you're feeling." To be fair, no one on earth could deliver that well. But she really drove it into the ground. I literally made a face.

4. "WHAT DOES THE REST OF THE MESSAGE SAY??" OMG shut. UP.



Edited at 2012-08-27 04:46 am (UTC)
canarymburns
Aug. 28th, 2012 10:28 pm (UTC)
I thought he only bought the engagement ring recently? In the episode where he first meets the new therapist, the therapist said something like "So when you found out about [something] you had an intern run over to Tiffany's."? Then towards the end of the episode he ripped up the receipt?

I may of totally misread that timescale though :-)
marymary
Aug. 28th, 2012 11:09 pm (UTC)
No, you're right, I was just being silly and expressed myself badly. :)

When I say, "she's learned from Will," I'm taking Mac's POV. Will sort of tricked her into thinking he'd actually had that engagement ring for years. And that, apparently, it lives right there in his drawer. We knew it was bought recently, and of course Will knew, but Mac didn't.

So I was saying maybe she's learned from Will the habit of keeping sentimental items close all the times, because she thinks he does. :)
elinorigbe
Aug. 29th, 2012 06:46 am (UTC)
SHE HAS IT IN HER HANDS?

I know it was well past AS's time, but that reminded me of Josh pulling out his folder of Donna's quotes from the drawer RIGHT BEHIND HIS DESK--he could reach for it without looking, when she came in for an interview.

Who does that?



Edited at 2012-08-29 06:49 am (UTC)
marymary
Aug. 29th, 2012 02:55 pm (UTC)
Wow, good catch, elinor! That's a great comparison.

I feel like sometimes, that sort of thing can be very powerful. If we really believe the character is keeping something close by, that says to us that it's important to him. I just don't think it works in these cases.
tomfoolery815
Aug. 29th, 2012 03:34 pm (UTC)
Great comparison, Elinor! We've gotten away from this, but in a pre-computer, pre-Internet age what you kept in your desk drawer was of great importance. Nixon set Watergate in motion after telling one of his subordinates ... John Erhlichman, IIRC ... "I want to know what Larry O'Brien [the head of the DNC] keeps right here," and then pounded on one of the lower drawers of the Resolute Desk. Sorkin being an old soul, and into writing characters who are old souls, it seems less surprising that Will, or Josh, would keep such things in their desks. Josh knew Donna would show up looking for a job; Will wants the ring available to brandish at an opportune moment.

I just don't think it works in these cases.
I think it works, Mary, in the context of Mac thinking about what it will take to get Will up off the mat.

She didn't have to have it in hand when the nurse came in to tell the story of her great-aunt (grandmother?), but knowing that so much of what Will had done had been to win her over or win her back -- and in light of this bottom-desk-drawer conversation -- I can believe that Mac slipped it back onto her clipboard, waiting for the moment when Will would bring it up. The clipboard is her bottom desk drawer.
marymary
Aug. 27th, 2012 05:05 am (UTC)
One more thing... I'm so torn on the sorority girl being Thomas of Warwick. Any Arthurian reference makes me happy, and Will employed it well. That was the intent of the Arthur character - to "seed" someone with the story and the ideals, so they would live on.

It was just too much for me, that she'd come back and look for a job, that Will would then yell at her A SECOND TIME, and then hire her and assume she'd be the vessel for their whole vision.

But overall, I liked it.
aunt_deen
Aug. 27th, 2012 12:13 pm (UTC)
Sloan and Don. THAT'S what I'm talkin about. Ok, a little too on the nose ("You never asked me out."), but both of them had the right tension, a realistic reticence, and great timing. It was sort of thrilling! I felt that, you know? And for maaaybe only the second time in this series. *slow clap*

I did throw a piece of popcorn at the "you never asked me out" line.

I am full of mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, the notion that you can pine and still not act like an idiot around the object of your pining is something that is far too rare onscreen. Sloan, because she is an adult, can work with Don and talk to him and even give him sincere and sympathetic advice on his love life. She's not staring at him wistfully, she doesn't look miserable when he talks about Maggie, she doesn't obsessively analyze the Don/Maggie relationship with her co-workers. She is a grown-ass woman and she deals.

On the other hand, I'm calling a certain amount of bullshit on the idea that Don never asking her out means she's single. Still. After over a year of Don/Maggie. She is hot and smart and funny and she would have all kinds of quality men asking her out. Yes, because she's a female Sorkin character, she has to be socially inept, but she's not socially inept on the scale of Dana Whitaker. She's just a bit oblivious about some things.

So yes, I anticipate some great things ahead for this relationship. I really like both characters and they have an interesting relationship already, and there is some great chemistry there. I just wish the dialogue had been handled a little differently.
marymary
Aug. 27th, 2012 02:51 pm (UTC)
On the other hand, I'm calling a certain amount of bullshit on the idea that Don never asking her out means she's single. Still. After over a year of Don/Maggie. She is hot and smart and funny and she would have all kinds of quality men asking her out.

Yes, absolutely, and I had that exact same thought when I heard that line too.

I decided to see it as more of a provocative comment. Like, I can imagine myself saying something exactly like that, just to be disarming. I decided neither Don nor Sloan thinks Sloan is single because she's been pining for Don -- it was just a way for Sloan to say, "Oh and by the way, I like you." *

She is a grown-ass woman and she deals.

Yes, this is an excellent point. IMO this works ONLY with Sloan, because she's the only one in that newsroom with any kind of poker face. I believe she could have been attracted to Don and no one would have known.

Now, Mr. Sorkin, whether WE should have known is another question. I smell a little retcon here -- I think you got this idea when you were writing this episode.


* Not for nothin, but this is very reminiscent of Aaron's "I buried the lede" speech in Broadcast News. /broken record
elinorigbe
Aug. 30th, 2012 03:29 am (UTC)
Not for nothin, but this is very reminiscent of Aaron's "I buried the lede" speech in Broadcast News

it's also very reminiscent (reaching VERY far afield) of two reveals in "4 Weddings & a Funeral": first where Fiona tells the Hugh Grant character that she had never coupled because the object of her adoration (he) was not available, and the second where Mathew,(John Hannah) reads that heartbreaking W.H. Auden eulogy at the funeral of his here-to-for secret lover Gareth.
tomfoolery815
Aug. 27th, 2012 04:41 pm (UTC)
Love it. :) I know you and I agree with him about the brilliance of Don's trashy-news tutorial. I think he's right about Olivia Munn -- it's fun to see an obviously smart person figure out, right in front of us, how to be a better actor.

He makes a great point about the early episodes of SN -- Mac's shrieking has its origins in Jeremy's build-to-a-crescendo yelling in his job interview. What made that moment even more painful was the laugh track telling us just how hilarious that moment was.

Mary, even given your reasonable criticisms of the Mackenzie character, I think you'll agree that it is fun to hear EM say "douchebag." :)
tomfoolery815
Aug. 27th, 2012 04:33 pm (UTC)
I decided neither Don nor Sloan thinks Sloan is single because she's been pining for Don -- it was just a way for Sloan to say, "Oh and by the way, I like you."
I agree, Mary. I suspect you're also pleased to finally some subtext in this series. :)

It was a great, fun scene. One of the few instances of adult romantic tension I can recall in this series.

She is a grown-ass woman
Deen, might this be a Shirley Bennett reference? :)
marymary
Aug. 27th, 2012 06:12 pm (UTC)
One in our column! #teamsubtext
tomfoolery815
Aug. 27th, 2012 06:38 pm (UTC)
Here's hoping our team puts a lot more points on the board in Season 2. :)
tomfoolery815
Aug. 27th, 2012 04:54 pm (UTC)
Jim, challenged to come up with office gossip: "They put Fresca in the vending machines....The vending machines have Fresca." HA! That's my favorite Sorkin reference so far. Awesome.
Somewhere, Ainsley is smiling.

- Mac, pulling the pillow from under Will's head, to hit Jim with.
Yes! That was fun.

Jane Fonda and Sam Waterston were both great in this episode.
Yes, they were.

But the CONTENT -- Brava. She covered a lot of what I hated about SATC.
I know I was never the target audience for SATC, but I think that's why it didn't do anything for me when I did watch: The characters weren't sympathetic enough for me. /OT
anatolealice
Sep. 3rd, 2012 04:54 am (UTC)
Jim, challenged to come up with office gossip: "They put Fresca in the vending machines....The vending machines have Fresca." HA! That's my favorite Sorkin reference so far. Awesome.
Somewhere, Ainsley is smiling.


And Ana is thinking, 'man, I forgot to try fresca again</> '




Edited at 2012-09-03 04:57 am (UTC)
tomfoolery815
Sep. 3rd, 2012 03:50 pm (UTC)
It's good! Imitation grapefruit flavor, but a good imitation :)
tomfoolery815
Aug. 27th, 2012 05:12 pm (UTC)
One more thing... I'm so torn on the sorority girl being Thomas of Warwick. Any Arthurian reference makes me happy, and Will employed it well.
I liked it. It's Sorkin at his most Capra-esque, his most endearing.

Will humiliated Jennifer and, because the clip went viral, caused lots of people to think her stupid. (Naturally, Will sees it as her ruining his life. But I like that, too; not as something that makes Will more likeable, but for showing the part of Will that recognizes that life was easier when he was the Jay Leno of the news.) And still, she wants to be a part of what they're doing.

-- "You do." Loved that moment, don't care who knows it. :)

-- You know what else was cool about that scene? Mac telling Jennifer to stay calm. Because Mac knows that once Will hears what she has to say, the internship is hers.

-- It reminds me of one of my all-time-favorite TWW moments: When Leo tells the young woman who leaked his medical records that she's not fired. (God, that was such a beautiful scene. Made me want Leo as either my boss or my father.) I don't know if Sorkin was thinking of that scene when he wrote this one, but the scenes share some DNA.
marymary
Aug. 27th, 2012 06:12 pm (UTC)
Sepinwall's review.

http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/season-finale-review-the-newsroom-the-greater-fool-what-kind-of-year-has-it-been

He makes an excellent point about News Night team essentially helping to cover up the wire-tapping in order to keep their show intact.
marymary
Aug. 27th, 2012 06:18 pm (UTC)
I know I was never the target audience for SATC, but I think that's why it didn't do anything for me when I did watch

And I suggest that that's maybe NOT why it didn't do anything for you. I was a career woman with a life in the city and single until 30-ish. I couldn't relate to those characters at all, for many of the reasons Maggie stated shouted.

You know what else was cool about that scene? Mac telling Jennifer to stay calm. Because Mac knows that once Will hears what she has to say, the internship is hers.

You know what, you're right! Sorry, not surprised that you're right .. :) .. just that I do recall distinctly NOT hating Mac at that moment. I really liked the expression on her face and everything. (And maybe it was also that she said so little in the scene. ;)
tomfoolery815
Aug. 27th, 2012 06:38 pm (UTC)
(And maybe it was also that she said so little in the scene. ;)
And what she did say was said with an inside voice. :)

And I suggest that that's maybe NOT why it didn't do anything for you. I was a career woman with a life in the city and single until 30-ish. I couldn't relate to those characters at all, for many of the reasons Maggie stated shouted.
I phrased my reaction poorly. While I can see that it suggested that I thought my gender was the problem with SATC, what I was trying to say is that I had no sympathy for any of the main characters. I tried to like SATC; but as Maggie was, yes, shouting about it I thought "Yes, there it is! That's why I didn't like it!" The story of Thirtysomething Mary would surely be much more sympathetic. :)

-- I did like the use of "Baba O'Riley," but then that song always gives me goosebumps. (Forgive me if I've mentioned this before: You guys may have noticed that, on the Season 1 DVDs, the chapter of "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet" which includes the series of "I serve at the pleasure of the president" moments is titled "Out here in the fields." Which is the first line of "Baba O'Riley.")
anatolealice
Sep. 3rd, 2012 05:08 am (UTC)
I enjoyed SATC, it was great light hearted fare to come home to after my evening uni classes. I couldn't relate to it at all which was why it was enjoyable, it was a glimpse into another world. I never really thought what it must be like for women who thought they should be able to relate. Ouch. It did teach us about dating, which was nice.Aussie girls of my generation never went out with more than one guy at a time. If you were 'going out' with some one you were a couple ( or not, but not free to go out on a date with anyone else without being thought a slut)?

As aunt_deen says below, the rant was a bit ridiculous and perfect. And made me laugh because the little excerpt of theme was so out of place. Also I know someone who did that tour :-)

Edited at 2012-09-03 05:13 am (UTC)
marymary
Sep. 3rd, 2012 03:49 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I totally get that, ana. I love a lot of the shows I love precisely because they're so different from my experience. I think, for me, SATC was close ENOUGH that I kept judging it and saying, "oh, come on...."

The things I did love about SATC:

- All the women were very different and yet were very good friends.

- The sheer ridiculousness of some of the stuff Carrie would wear was very entertaining.

- Samantha was overtly sexual beyond any PERSON I've ever known, let alone a woman. But I sorta liked how she moved the end of the scale. Because then Carrie, Charlotte and Miranda, who slept with their dates all the time, seemed positively prudent. In my crazy brain, that's progress for (fictional) women. \o/

- Some of the male stereotypes had a ring of truth to them. :)

- They cast Ron Livingston as Carrie's boyfriend! And he was awesome! Until they totally character-assassinated him. He was a man, after all, what did he expect? :)

- Sarah Jessica Parker's looks are very... unconventional, yet they cast her as a very desirable woman, and she certainly played it that way. I liked that.
aunt_deen
Aug. 28th, 2012 12:54 am (UTC)
I decided to see it as more of a provocative comment. Like, I can imagine myself saying something exactly like that, just to be disarming. I decided neither Don nor Sloan thinks Sloan is single because she's been pining for Don -- it was just a way for Sloan to say, "Oh and by the way, I like you."

This makes perfect sense and it makes me like the scene a lot better.

It also makes me so much more frustrated with the insanity of everyone in the whole, convoluted mess other than Sloan. For God's sake, how many times does it have to be CLEARLY established to ALL of them that Don & Maggie aren't all that happy together, Jim & Lisa aren't even remotely happy together, Jim likes Maggie and he doesn't like Lisa?

I want to shake all four of them until their teeth rattle.

just that I do recall distinctly NOT hating Mac at that moment. I really liked the expression on her face and everything. (And maybe it was also that she said so little in the scene. ;)

Must laugh because the first time I ever saw Emily Mortimer she was in an episode of Sharpe. She played young nun so traumatized by seeing the murder of her fellow nuns that she was mute. Didn't speak the entire episode just gazed at Sharpe in trusting adoration.

I had no sympathy for any of the main characters. I tried to like SATC; but as Maggie was, yes, shouting about it I thought "Yes, there it is! That's why I didn't like it!"

I was never a fan of Sex and the City and it was simply because I didn't find a single character even a little sympathetic or relatable.

And oh my GOD, I loved the SatC rant. Yes, it was a little ridiculous, but it was still perfect.

The other moment I loved was when Mack started off all solicitous when Will woke up and then started smacking him, yelling, "I've been waiting to hit you for two days!" and Will was trying to defend himself, yelling, "I appreciate your patience!"
arraydesign
Sep. 4th, 2012 12:13 am (UTC)
oh my yes. That's the time I felt it was totally right to see Mack go off the rails. And yes, Will's reaction was absolutely perfect. Like most of the rest of you I prefer Mary's interpretation of Sloan's "You never asked me out" as a dry,wry comment, rather than a pining idiocy... maybe it's just because Sloane really is, hands down, my favorite character.
marymary
Sep. 3rd, 2012 03:35 pm (UTC)
arraydesign
Sep. 4th, 2012 12:19 am (UTC)
After having FINALLY seen the finale... yeah, there are things that bug me, but it's still one of the best things on... and hey extra bonus points... no cops, no lawyers, no doctors. It's such a freaking relief to have an entire hour of television where no one is murdered, horribly disfigured, or bleeds out. (and don't get me started on reality shows!)
Bring on season 2!

marymary
Sep. 4th, 2012 03:21 am (UTC)
... no cops, no lawyers, no doctors.

Ha ha, excellent point! :)
tomfoolery815
Sep. 20th, 2012 05:00 pm (UTC)
TWW reunion for Bridget McCormack's campaign (off-topic, but I believe I'll be forgiven)
Because the main room isn't the hoppin' place it used to be ...

http://youtu.be/v52FLMOPSig
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