HBO’s journalism drama The Newsroom begins its second season tonight, promising more scandal and incisive political commentary from Aaron Sorkin’s cable news station. As the series heads into its new chapter, take a look back at the best moments from Season One.
Will Cuts America Down to Size
Episode 1: “We Just Decided To”
Opening scenes don’t get much better than this. Regardless of what critics may say about the rest of The Newsroom’s inaugural season, Sorkin thrust us into his latest political drama with a brilliant serving of, well, political drama. The debate at Northwestern established Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) as a world-weary patriot while delivering one of the most honest six minutes of television in recent memory.
The Therapy Sessions
Episode 6: “Bullies,” then ongoing
Most television grumps eventually reveal their sensitive side, and it was only a matter of time before News Night 2.0’s curmudgeon-in-chief showed his. David Krumholtz (of Numb3rs fame) coaxes some important truths from Will with dialogue that’s witty but not overheated – a refreshing break from the high-octane goings-on at the office.
Will Does the News High
Episode 7: “5/1”
Of course, the biggest story of the team’s career would break while Will is more fried than a Paula Deen dish. Thankfully, he keeps his cool while reporting the death of Osama bin Laden, despite coming dangerously close reporting the assassination of our president instead. “In days to come, you’ll look back and think that this moment was funny,” he chuckles. We’re laughing right now.
Sexual Tension between Jim and Maggie
At the center of the newsroom’s love quadrangle are good-guy Jim Harper (John Gallagher, Jr.) and taken-but-wishes-she-weren’t Maggie Jordan (Alison Pill). They manage to eschew the Halpert-Beesly dynamic from The Office by delightfully torturing us: settling for sub-par relationships, bumbling like adorable children mid-flirt. Even when they come tantalizingly close, things somehow never work out, building our anticipation to a peak before frustrating us to no end.
Neal’s Conspiracy Theories
Episode 4: “I’ll Try to Fix You”
Lovable Slumdog star Dev Patel’s Neal represents what may be the future of journalism: He knows the World Wide Web like the back of his hand, and he covered the London Underground bombings via camera phone. When he’s not corresponding with foreign sources, though, he’s pushing his hilariously sincere belief in Bigfoot on the entire staff. That, and his semi-serious Internet forum trolling make for some of Season One’s funniest moments.
Mock Republican Primary Debate
Episode 9: “The Blackout Part II: Mock Debate”
The Newsroom gets its sheen in part from the content it works with; most of the stories presented on News Night are still fresh in the minds of viewers. The mock debate staged for RNC executives plays out like a liberal’s dream of an alternate political reality, as right-wing stand-ins are, for once, given the tough questions. As Will puts it: “If baseball players testifying about steroids in front of a House subcommittee are subject to perjury, I don’t know why presidential candidates aren’t.”
Sloan’s Brutal Questioning in Japanese
Episode 6: “Bullies”
Don’t mess with Sloan Sabbith (Olivia Munn). When a translator deliberately changes a Fukushima reactor technician’s statement during an on-air interview, the economist begins interrogating the technician in Japanese before using quotes he had designated off-the-record. If it sounds like incomprehensible journalism jargon, it is, but the little stunt gets Sloan suspended from the network. The scene is a fascinating look at some of the toughest calls in news judgment.
Will and Nina on New Year’s Eve
Episode 4: “I’ll Try to Fix You”
We’ve all been there: it’s New Year’s Eve, the clock is fast ticking toward midnight and there seem to be no smooching prospects in sight. But wait, that cute gossip columnist looks available! Sir McAvoy the Righteous embarks on an anti-gossip crusade against his female match (Nina Howard, played by Hope Davis) in this awkward flirtation that ends up seriously backfiring. No kiss for Will, but he does leave with a drink in the face to show for a cringe-worthy pickup attempt that bites him in the butt for the next six episodes.
The “American Taliban” Speech
Episode 10: “The Greater Fool”
Ever since a little show called The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin has made it a habit to inject his political persuasions into the characters he creates. Sometimes it’s just plain annoying, but this lengthy psychoanalysis of the Tea Party acts as a vehicle for Jeff Daniels to fully embrace the sarcastic papa bear persona he was born to play.
Anything Charlie Says, Ever
“I’m a Marine, Don! I will beat the shit out of you, I don’t care how many protein bars you eat!” It’s outbursts like this that make division president and bearhearted whiskeyman Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterson) The Newsroom’s consistent standout. Casting the Law & Order alum has paid off in more than just comic relief; Waterson knows when to give silent support to his team and when to go absolutely ham on Leona Lansing (Jane Fonda). Charlie’s loyal temperament and hysterically-written lines make him an easy favorite.