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The Newsroom Letdown: From Reality to Absurdity

12/12/2014 02:34 GMT | Updated 10/02/2015 10:59 GMT

I loved the first two seasons of The Newsroom. Maybe it's just nostalgia after being a hack for 50 years. Yes, it's melodramatic and not totally realistic, but maybe that's why I like the show.

Yet its seems to me Aaron Sorkin's third and final season is either an afterthought of something he didn't think would last this long or he's frustrated with it not being good enough to continue on for a fourth series. After all, at only six episodes it could be classed as a mini-series.

The multiple story strands seem to lack continuity and appear to be rushed. One of the main detractions from this as a serious show about working TV news people has been the time wasting romantic involvements that erupt and then break-up in the ACN newsroom.

But in Series 3 Sorkin seems to have taken his Newsroom that had been doing takes on actual news stories to fantasy incidents that require you to suspend disbelief, which is hard for me after spending half a century as a newsman.

Most of the series has centred on an explosive story of American involvement in a massacre of civilians and a cover-up uncovered by Neal (Dev Patel). He got the story from a person who did an Edward Snowden, giving him top secret US documents. Neal encourages the person to get more documents, thus acting as an accessory to a crime.

The FBI gets wind of this and wants Neal. Will (Jeff Daniels) tells him to run. He does, all the way to Venezuela.

From this point its disbelief suspension time with the series diminishing in reality and has become more a statement of the times from Sorkin. Reporters from major news organisations aren't advised by their bosses to run off after possibly breaking the law. They stay, face the music with a legal team and fight the good fight.

It's also here we see that Sorkin has ACN is sort Dome situation where no other news outlets exist in America or the world. The moment a rumour about the FBI jumping on ACN over a leaked story became known, another news story would be created, one that would only be amplified as developments occur and are widely reported.

It eventually came down to Will, a national news anchor, being thrown into jail for refusing to reveal the source of the leak. Can you imagine if NBC's Brian Williams was threatened with jail this way? It would be international news. And the big question would be "why." Not in this New York.

But it gets better, right after Will finally marries MacKenzie (Emily Mortimer), he's arrested and jailed. Meanwhile back at the office the new station management kills this great the story as being too dangerous. As if no one else exists in the news universe to find out what the hell is going on at ACN. This part of patently absurd.But all is not lost; ACN can leak, too...sending the story to Associated Press as a gift.

Episode 5 has Will languishing in jail for 52 days involved in a class war with his blue collar wife beating cell mate. If Walter Cronkite were alive and seeing this he would be laughing or very pissed off.

Back at the office, News Chief Charlie (Sam Waterston), once the hard-ass proponent of journalistic integrity has come under the down market populist spell of the management and wants his troops to judge news values by twitter hits. But in the end he rebels, has a heart attack and dies about the same time Will is being set free from jail.

The main secondary strand was Don (Thomas Sadoski) trying to discourage a rape victim from facing her accused rapist live on the show as part of the management's down-market approach to news. This proved to be the main controversy of the episode.

From the start of Series 3 to the finish in the coming Episode 6, Sorkin has presented an image of journalistic decline in the dot.com Internet world. The main problem for me was a lack of continuity from one series to the next. For example at the end of Series 2, things couldn't be happier at ACN. Then disaster strikes.

Probably the best example of ad hock writing style and vague story continuity was the on and off and on romance between Jim (John Gallagher Jr,) and Maggie (Alison Pill). In Series 1 they are hot for each other. In Series 2 for some reason they barely talk to each other, with Jim meeting someone else. In Series 3 he dumps her and in the end is back with Maggie. Hooray, a happy ending.

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I must admit, as much as a like this show, it can't touch he gritty reality of Lou Grant. But I'm an old print hack...so what do I know.