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Newsroom Episode Three: In ‘Sports Night’ At Least They Got To Throw Some Humps

newsroomsportsnightNewsroom 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.

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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.

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About the author

Jeff Wattrick is someone whose unsolicited submissions accidentally get published on Wonkette. He also writes for Deadline Detroit, which is this thing on the internet about the Motor City.

View all articles by Jeff Wattrick

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60 comments

  1. nounverb911

    Aaron Sorkin will keep doing the same show over and over until he gets it right.

  2. UnholyMoses

    I give this post a 5.

    It would have scored higher, but I had to make deductions for the ALT text fail and grainy (and, thus, unfappable) picture.

  3. Chow Yun Flat

    I will wait for the kung-fu remake from Hong Kong. Or the Korean, 40 episode soap opera version. Or the one from Japan where Godzilla stomps on them.

  4. Allmighty_Manos

    I remember Benson when I was a kid. Even at the time I thought it was pretty stupid. Wait, is that what you're talking about?

  5. Maman

    Oh good. I loved Sports Night. Are they throwing in a little Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip? Who is Kristen Chenoweth in this one?

  6. BarackMyWorld

    Will McAvoy actually reminds me more of Matthew Perry's character on "Studio 60"…if he were inserted into an episode of "Sports Night."

  7. Chow Yun Flat

    Is this the show where Kiefer Sutherland tortures an Arab for 24 hours and then disarms a bomb?

    Just wondering because I didn't watch that one either.

  8. Goonemeritus

    The only American way to deal with sexual tension is binge eating. Is this Sorkin guy European or something.

  9. BarackMyWorld

    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.

    Didn't you know? Most of the cast was killed on 9/11.

  10. SayItWithWookies

    You know what's wrong with television today? Not enough shows featuring white people in suits yelling.

    Also not enough cop shows or hospital shows — which I will remedy with my pilot, "Cop Hospital."

    1. edgydrifter

      Get in line! I'm already pitching Dr. Faith M.D., Esq. about a country doctor in the big city who solves crimes solely through the clues she picks up in the E.R. and presents in hospital court. Is hospital court a real thing? I sure hope so, because it's kind of central to my show.

    2. thefrontpage

      Cop Hospital!

      I haven't watched cop, doctor or lawyer shows on television since "Kojak."

    3. SorosBot

      Well I've got a totally original idea that's like nothing out there and not like exactly like half the shows on network TV today: a karaoke singing contest with celebrity judges where viewers call in to determine the winners!

  11. BigSkullF*ckingDog

    I would rather eat dinner cooked by Rush Limbaugh than watch this show.

  12. Oblios_Cap

    Seems like the typical American TV fare that has successfully dumbed down our nation.

  13. Jus_Wonderin

    I had "had too much" by the time ep. 3 aired so…I don't remember what happened. That goes for True Blood too. Not sure, I might have a drinking problem.

  14. elviouslyqueer

    When is the episode featuring David Bromstad and Vern Yip fighting over who gets to give a dirty sanchez to Antonio Ballatore? Because I am ALL OVER that shit.

  15. Mittens Howell, III

    I tried to to sit through this, but watching the ex meet the cheerleader date made me cringe and writhe so much some of my internal organs ended up on my outside.

  16. thefrontpage

    Hey, we're out here in Los Angeles, and a group of us Wonketters (yes, a group of us Wonketters, that's what we said) regularly dumpster-dive at studios for discarded scripts, and we found some from "The Newsroom," Episode Six. Here's a brief scene:

    Editor: Hey, doll, I need that story on the moonhine bust in Laurel Canyon, now! The paper's about to be put to press! We have six editions today! Hey, Lois, come on! Where's that story, dollface?

    Lois: I got it, boss! I was just waiting on that phone call from my liberal politician source, who complained about the Republicans going after moonshining operations in Laurel Canyon! I'm typing the last graph now! Okay, you've got it–25 inches of copy on the moonshine bust and the Republican complaints!

    Editor: (Takes a swig from his bottle of Jack Daniels in his drawer) This is great, babe! We're putting this on page one! Now let's put this paper to bed! We're doing great work here! We're saving the world from Laurel Canyon moonshiners!

    Lois: I hate Republicans.

    END SCENE.

  17. edgydrifter

    Beige is the new charcoal, I see, but slouching, smirking and hands-jammed-in-pockets are eternal Sorkinisms.

  18. Mojopo

    I watched all 3 eps over the weekend. What in the hell is with the meet cute/forced chemistry between the different characters? Everything about their capitalized Tender Moments feels forced and agonizing – like watching a robot strain to create empathy, but who winds up crapping out a bolt instead. Those parts embarrass me.

  19. SorosBot

    So you're saying this isn't worth paying $100 a month to Comcast, plus extra for HBO?

    1. Mojopo

      Better to get "Downton Abbey" from Netflix. But Comcast just upgraded me to everything and I pay less for now – some promo, they said, if I tried the Voice thingie. And I have a Roku. And you know what? I watch exactly 5 things, 6 when "Finding Bigfoot" is on. But I like knowing I have options.

  20. prommie

    Well, can you really blame the humping on Sorkin? People will hump, you know. Its one of the few things you can count on, as far as sure things, there is death, taxes, and people will hump. The law even has a presumption, that if a dude and a chick have "inclination" and "opportunity," they will hump. This is a legal presumption, all you gots to show is that a man and a woman are sweet on each other, and were alone together, and the law presumes that humping has transpired. Its a beautiful thing.

    1. ASHLEIGH_Joe

      The law even has a presumption, that if a dude and a chick have "inclination" and "opportunity," they will hump.

      When you put it that way, it sounds an awful lot like an R&B song. Or, just perhaps, every R&B song.

  21. Chichikovovich

    If I am remembering correctly, two weeks ago we got an extended rant in the "Aaron Sorkin's new show – such suckitude you've never seen, say critics!" genre. Then a week ago we got a "Oh man, you wouldn't believe how much it sucks. More suckage than anything in the entire history of sucky things!" post. This week we get a "And it is totally copied from another show which didn't suck! But it, however, sucks." post.

    I think I see a pattern here. This is the snark equivalent of the nun who is so shocked, appalled and revolted by the porno she found in a student's desk that she has to read it over a dozen times, for a month.

    1. JerkCade

      Or that smell that you're not sure if it's something off at the bottom of the kitchen garbage or some really terrific Thai dish with fish sauce that your neighbor is making so you keep sniffing even though it's really gross but also compelling

      . . . or so a friend told me.

  22. ColHeightsChic

    Forgive me for complete lack of snark, but I feel the need to rant about this today:
    Why the f*%k are the two female characters so overwhelmingly pathetic? Even the one who is supposed to be so intelligent (British chic) is overly emotional and the incredibly stereotype of the drama-filled crazy lady after a breakup. The only message I got from this show was: be careful when employing chics, because they will be emotional basket cases around the office.
    And I really wanted to like this show.

    1. DemmeFatale

      I actually think there are good parts of this show. I LOVED the teabagger take down stuff, but I was bewildered by the ridiculous behavior of grown women last night.
      Was it the writing? Acting? Directing? Something else?
      The contrast was especially sharp with Jane Fonda playing a cool and ruthless boss.

  23. PuckStopsHere

    I've always wondered what happened to my porno. Uh, I mean I've always wondered what happened to that porno I was holding onto for a friend. Yeah, that's it. It was MY BUDDY'S porn.

    1. eggsacklywright

      The ghost of Jamie Gillis will haunt you if you lose the pron. He watches from the ether.

  24. owhatever

    Episode Four: Will hits the little blonde with the big eyes out on the balcony to keep her from jumping. Maggie blows the Indian dude while wearing a headset. Fonda, looking out over the Tea Partiers with torches and pitchforks outside the building, tells Waterson "Those assholes have hated me for forty years. Squeeze my boobs and you can keep your damned show."

  25. ttommyunger

    Haven't watched it, not gonna watch it, you can't make me. I Don't have much of a life,but I have too much going on to watch that sort of shit….

  26. PuglyDoRight

    I watched last night…learned more about the Koch Brothers than I ever saw on CNN.

  27. BathroomGoblin

    This whole thing is just a vehicle to reintroduce Olivia Munn, right? I mean I dislike the blonde girl with the close-in-eyes and she makes Munn seem normal, or employable at least.

  28. TheDelano

    I think this is Time Warner's "I wish we could have done this with CNN" fantasy.
    If you look at what HBO has done in the past as a complete package, you can see trends toward positively displaying progressive ideas and criticizing conservative ideas and choices. An incomplete list:
    HBO: Game Change, Recount, Too Big To Fail, You Don't Know Jack, The Newsroom, myriad examples of displaying homosexuality in a positive light, hell, even The Wire did what it could to expose corruption and the failing educational system in inner cities.
    Obviously there are exceptions to the rule, but I really do believe Time Warner is trying to sow the seeds of doubt and rational logic with it's choices in programming for HBO. To think that this show is just a rating grabbing monster with no real relevance is naive. This is a move to try and encourage real broadcast news stations to reconsider the way they report the news. I'm interested to see where CNN is going to head. I wonder if the "powers that be" at Time Warner feel like they should take any of the messages they're trying to send with The Newsroom and incorporate them into their choices with CNN.

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