Where The Newsroom‘s first episode dealt with a single day, and the second focused on the show’s first full week under new executive producer Mackenzie MacHale (Emily Mortimer), the third episode of the new HBO series takes place over a period of five months as the newly re-branded “News Night” takes on the Tea Party and ruffles the feathers of ACN’s parent company bringing the full corporate attention to the show’s drop in ratings and disregard for the economic consequences at playing hardball with large corporations such as Koch Industries.
The episode is framed through a meeting of ACN’s new division president Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston) with the network’s ratings experts, corporate arm, and the CEO of Atlantis World Media (Jane Fonda) – the parent company of ACN. Through a series of flashbacks we’re caught up to speed on Will’s (Jeff Daniels) insistence on taking on the “grass-roots” organization who have hijacked his party and the effect, both on air and off, the arrival of Mackenzie has had on the cable network’s news anchor.
The show still spends a little too long on the Maggie (Alison Pill)/Don (Thomas Sadoski)/Jim (John Gallagher Jr.) love triangle, which wouldn’t be bad if (as the episode teases) the matter would have been resolved by the end of the episode, but it turns out we’re back to the status quo as the episode’s credits roll. Both Dev Patel and Olivia Munn have small moments in limited screentime this week.
At times the show still struggles with a lack of subtlety and being a little too on-the-nose, even bordering on pretentious, (Munn’s character seeing the Debt Ceiling issue so quickly or Will’s speech to begin the show) but The Newsroom‘s heart continues to be in the right place in taking on the big news stories of the day. It may not be great Sorkin, but there’s more than enough here for me to stick it out to see where the show goes from here in the season’s remaining seven episodes.