“One Step Too Many” begins with the first Red Team meeting on Operation Genoa. Jerry Dantana, Mac, Maggie, and Neal sit opposite the Red Team: Sloan, Don, and Jim. The Red Team’s job is to listen to a story proposal they know nothing about and try to shoot holes in it. A sharply written exchange ensues which not only furthers Operation Genoa going to air but confirms just how many reindeer Santa Claus actually has.
This leads Charlie and Mac to go on a road trip and question retired Marine General Stanislaus Stomtonovich, who is one of the few who would have known about the use of sarin gas. Played exceptionally by quirky character actor Stephen Root, General Stomtonovich opens the door further to Operation Genoa actually happening.
But a wrinkle presents itself when Jerry goes to interview the General on camera. Jerry is an interesting character study in “One Step Too Many.” He’s a very unlikable element in the newsroom. He’s pushy and arrogant with his opinion, but unlike Don, has not been opened up enough for us to like him. He’s disrespectful to Mac and Charlie, his superiors, who have solidified a relationship with us in the series. He is self serving, wanting to push his career, as we find out, at any costs. Jerry’s actions expose an interesting twist journalists can make, or anyone for that matter with a video camera or microphone, through the art of twisting what someone says in the editing room in order to shape the story you want to tell. Is writer Aaron Sorkin suggesting this is how many stories are told in the media? Whatever agenda the media has, whether Fox News or MSNBC, the facts can get twisted. Reporters contort stories and interviewees for their own self-serving and political good. While this scenario may be a stretch, I have seen two separate media outlets cover the same material and give the viewers two completely different stories. Has the story changed or just the perspective?
The evolution of Don Keefer has been something to take note of this year. Played exceptionally well by Thomas Sadoski, for most of the first season he was portrayed as essentially a jerk to both his co-workers and girlfriend Maggie. In both regards, he was really just an insecure guy. This season, he has calmed and become likable. He’s a stand up guy in his own unique way. He’s still the same Don, quick with dialogue and to attack stupidity in the world, but he’s changed and become enjoyable to watch and cheer for.
Ratings are important and vital to any newscast. “One Step Too Many” offers a humorous and realistic look at the fear of losing viewership through Will. For several weeks Will has been going through a crisis. His antics on the morning show at ACN showed how far some in the media are willing to go to present themselves as likable and keep viewers. When you are in the public eye, public perceptions matter. But is it worth selling yourself out for? Will acting as himself, doing a hard hitting news show, cross examining guests as if they were in a court of law, is going to lose viewers. It took throwing a football wearing a helmet on the ‘fun’ morning show to shake him straight, hopefully.
Big questions are brought up in “One Step Too Many” about the collateral damage a story like Operation Genoa would likely cause if reported. Don talks to Mac about being at Newsweek when they ran a story on someone flushing the Koran down a toilet. The response was a bombing in a London subway. A story like Operation Genoa, the United States government knowingly using chemical weapons, would be a monumental story. The fallout would be immeasurable. At the end of the episode, Charlie, in present time, talks to ACN lawyer Rebecca Halliday about the one step too many they took on Genoa. But, he also talks about the decision and the moral obligation to report the story. How covering it up would have been a crime as well. This season, The Newsroom has reminded us that reporting the news should be taken far more seriously than the sensational journalism that floods the medium today. For sometimes, the world needs to be taken seriously.
Any episode of TV that talks about the film John Carter is my kind of show. I am one of the very few who loved it. John Carter is used by Sloan as an example of how entertainment is one of the United States’ highest revenue generating exports; Disney took a financial bath with John Carter yet its stocks remained fairly high. What does this all say? Entertainment is mass produced and consumed the world over. Shouldn’t it be seen in a greater light rather than something that just entertains? It is a viable product, employing thousands, and generating billions of dollars. People love their TV show, movies, and music the world over. They want to be entertained. Sure, it might be because the reality of living is far less exciting, but it’s still something people want and should be treated like any other traded commodity.
I’m going to date myself here, but there is a great line from a popular Dire Straits song in the 1980’s.
“I want my MTV!”
And so, too, does the world.