Newsroom episode three: Still no humping. But they will hump because this is an Aaron Sorkin show and Sorkin doesn’t just recycle dialogue but entire series. In this case? He’s recycled Sports Night. Let the humping begin!
Sorkin plot points, setting, and issue-he-so-fearlessly-addresses is pure macguffin. The goings on of the newsroom are no more important to The Newsroom than the Maltese Falcon was to The Maltese Falcon. Just as Bogart could’ve sought a rare Ming Vase or an envelope full of cash or the Lindbergh Baby without fundamentally changing the story, Jeff Daniels and his saucy ex-girlfriend/producer could be righting the wrongs of the door-to-door vacuum cleaner industry. It’s not important. What is important to Sorkin is finding exciting new places to drop the same characters and let them deal with their sexual tension.
Episode three we see that so fucking perfectly because the plot is built around network execs complaining about the ratings. It was exactly like every episode of Sports Night in which J.J. from the network complains about the ratings. Jack McCoy, like Benson did on the older show, stood up for his precious program with a glib but oddly compelling monologue. Really, we get it. The network brass always want everyone to compromise integrity for ratings. What a conundrum!
So, Jack McCoy=Benson. Jeff Daniels is to Newsroom what the Six Feet Under guy was to Sports Night. British executive producer on Newsroom is Sports Night Felicity Huffman. The mousey blond girl is a less cool, less attractive, less interesting version of Natalie. The assistant producer guy who is friends with British EP is basically Josh Malina. The only difference here is the Ted McGinley character from Sports Night was injected in the mousey girl/assistant producer story in the form of the former executive producer guy.
If The Newsroom’s theme or setting mattered, then Sorkin wouldn’t have had British executive producer dismiss humanizing the immigration debate with a story about an immigrant in episode two. This is a show that supposedly genuflects before the altar of Ed Murrow and Murrow began his entire fucking crusade against Joe McCarthy with a story about a Dexter, MI college student named Milo Radulovich. If Sorkin were serious about his deep and meaningful thoughts about broadcast journalism, he probably would have noticed the incongruity of his Murrow worship and this particular plot point.
Yes, all the Newsroom characters you expect to hump will hump because that’s what happened on Sports Night and The Newsroom is Sports Night with political journalism. The only difference is the assistant producer/mousey blond girl will never conceive children as beautiful and gifted and awesome as Natalie and Jeremy’s children would have been had Sports Night lasted long enough to let them breed.
The shtick was clever and original 14 years ago with Sports Night and maybe The Newsroom will grow into something worthwhile, but it doesn’t matter. All that matters to Aaron Sorkin is how he gets a character to throw a hump into another character he wants them to hump. The rest is just filler.