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Vinny Ginardi: My reaction to this episode summarizes my quick take on the series thus far. There were moments where I felt like I was getting some quality television and others where I was left scratching my head and rolling my eyes.
The Good: I really enjoyed seeing Will go too far on the air and consequently have the situation turned on him. For perhaps the first time in the series, Will didn’t seem like some superhero who couldn’t do wrong when hosting the news. It was refreshing and sort of humanizing for Will not to come out on top after a news show.
The Bad: Probably because it’s a Sunday night HBO show created by Aaron Sorkin where political views are often a centerpiece, this show is scrutinized like no other show on television . While I think it’s a bit unfair that the show is treated this way, I did have a major problem with this episode.
I’m against television shows and movies using therapy sessions to give the audience a more detailed look at a character. While it can be effective in short segments or when it is logical for a character to therapy, using it for a long period of time (such as most of an episode, as we saw here) can make it feel cheap and forced. The golden rule in creative writing is to show your audience something, not tell it. I don’t want to be told what is going on inside the mind of the main character through a therapy session, I want to interpret it based off of how they act or their interactions with others. For example, why not show more interactions between Will and Sloan instead of having Will tell us that Sloan has become a “little sister” to him? Maybe this is more of a personal peeve, but I can’t stand being spoonfed this type of information. Having the noncontinuous timeline where we jumped back and forth from the therapy session to the events within the newsroom allowed for Will to give his commentary on everything that happened in the episode. To me, it just felt unnecessary, especially when you take into consideration that the need for Will to go to therapy was created this episode.
Greg Kaplan: Before Vinny goes further with his rant against shows that use therapy sessions to help narrate a show, I agree and I disagree. In this nature, in this episode, yes, it really seems like a ploy to drive the story line because you need something to carry it from start to finish without leaving out the questions to why are we here and how did we get here. However, I wouldn’t classify every show that uses therapy sessions as a crutch to be as poor as this. For example, I think some of the best episodes and scenes from another HBO show, The Sopranos, uses therapy sessions very successfully.
Back to this week’s episode, I didn’t have the same distaste for the news angle of the show I normally do. I’ll admit, it was very uncomfortable having Will tear the Santorum aide a new one and I was really wishing for it to be over, but moments like that on television are hard to turn away from and make for great television. Instead, my major problem with this week’s episode comes down to the marginalization of the characters within The Newsroom. Read more…