Episode four of HBO’s The Newsroom, “I’ll Try To Fix You” suffers from the same unbalanced tone and implausibility that the first three episodes displayed. At once we are supposed to believe the genius of the characters but still accept the stupidity with which they constantly behave. Further, the series feels rushed—not made too quickly with little resources—but written with broad, stereotypical and at times lazy character traits that they hardly seem real or all that interesting. With each episode, it becomes more difficult to care about their plight.
“I’ll Try To Fix You” begins as the news crew celebrates New Year’s Eve. That we have spent roughly a year or so with them does not seem possible. Time flies by, and we hardly know the characters, save for the stereotypes they represent. But these traits don’t hold up even within the context of the show. To wit: Will McAvoy, the show’s cantankerous host, in last week’s episode displayed a penchant for dating attractive females. Indeed, several are seen waiting for him as he finishes up the news. Clearly, he knows how to woe a lady. With his fame and fortune, this makes sense. Plus, he is a reasonably attractive man.
But in this episode, we are to believe that he can’t even walk up to a woman during a New Year’s Eve party in his own office and talk with her? Further, after he does muster the courage to talk with her, he immediately insults her profession and, by extension, her. Moreover, we are to believe, aghast, that some “journalists” engage in “take down” stories designed to destroy a person and that McAvoy is entirely oblivious to this reality? This strains believability too far. Of course, he is interested in ‘real’ news so has not done that sort of thing, but to not even be aware that it’s done erodes the show’s credibility. Of course, his insults result in the tired and hackneyed champagne in the face bit. So, then, all the other women McAvoy dated prior to this incident met with his intellectual and ethical approval? Every one? Seems implausible.
The subplot between Maggie, Jim and Don — the love triangle — also feels improbable. Maggie and Jim can’t seem to hide the fact that they have serious infatuation for each. This is clear to the viewers and we assume the staff. This undercurrent of frustration comes out during the most inappropriate times—in work meetings, in the middle of the office as they scream at each, etc. It is all too unbelievable. So these people are unable to control their emotions? They comport themselves like pre-teens.
While intending to be funny but coming off as ridiculous is the “bigfoot may be real” argument by Neal. Are we really to believe that Neal advocates this? Please. It is a distraction that makes little sense and worse generates no laughs.
The show has no subtly. It telegraphs everything, and when it fears the tardy viewer will not understand, we get a pedantic speech telling us what to think. This mostly comes via McCoy. This is the case in this week’s episode.
Set in the recent past, the show comments on the current state of affairs. So when the tragic shooting of the real-life Congresswoman Gabby Giffords happens, the team attempts to cover the facts. While several stations report her being dead, Team McAvoy needs confirmation. Here we receive yet another lesson in ethical and responsible journalism—news reports facts; it does not create them. This is all too heavy handed and would be better meted it with some subtlety. The show’s creator and main writer, Aaron Sorkin, might have a bit more confidence in his audience.
Thus far, each episode has concluded with McAvoy re-affirming his commitment to the show in some capacity. This is getting tiresome as well. The first three focused on the type of news show he and his team, namely his former fling Mac, would deliver. Here the threat is to McAvoy himself as we learn that “embarrassing” and “harmful” stories are essentially being deliberately created to justify firing him. Don’t mess with the Tea Party!
The show’s pedantic approach and heavy handed righteousness needs toning down. With some six episodes left in this season and a whole new season set for next year, I am not ready yet to throw in the towel. These concerns can be ironed out. The show needs its own ‘fixing.’