I sat through the entire first season of The Newsroom just for sporadic appearances from Jane Fonda as cackling network czarina Leona Lansing. I was rewarded in three episodes out of ten, and on those three occasions, Jane — how to put this? — naaaaaaailed it. She China Syndrome‘d Jeff Daniels with her nuclear reactions, and cleanup was FEMA-worthy. She wore Sam Waterston around her neck like a beige dickey in 9 to 5. And now, watching the relatively tame first episode of The Newsroom’s second season, I’ve found five more reasons to watch the show going forward. It remains to be seen whether I’ll be able to stomach both the hammy writing and ceaselessly urgent performances from Jeff Daniels and crew, but here are five things that were unerringly great.
1. Marcia Gay Harden’s executive realness
Uh, did you hear? Marcia Gay Harden is part of the fun this season as litigator and magentrix Rebecca Halliday. Originally, Rosemarie DeWitt was set to play this role, which is strange because it’s not an unsympathetically resentful sister character. No, it’s Marcia-Gay-God-Of-Motherf*cking-Carnage-Harden, and she’s so damn good in this limited role that — as far as I can tell — she’s trailing steam in every shot. I think her eyes are powered by separate locomotives? Anyway, moving on.
2. Look at how effing sweet Marcia Gay Harden looks here.
I honestly thought it was going to get no better for MGH than season two of Damages. That was some no-William-Hurt-you-listen-to-me power. God! God. And now here she is, toasting you with an over-the-shoulder grimace. She might be my new Lee Grant, guys. I said it.
3. Marcia Gay Harden? Is pissed.
Whatever, let Jeff Daniels have the throwaway “funny” line. MGH throws away bodies once she’s done searing them in the kiln of her presence, so it’s only fair.
4. Fonda has some leftover electrical fire in her eyes.
Agnes of Glam, filling you with the Holy Spirit, firebombing it out of you for laughs, firing you on the spot. Two Oscars, one smirk, zero f*cks to give.
5. I’m picturing Marcia Gay Harden rotating in a swivel chair and knocking Alison Pill across the room with sheer centrifugal velocity.
Nice new haircut, Alison Pill! Until Marcia Gay Harden fried it all off with her acting choices. R.I.P.
Can you think of any other reason to watch The Newsroom? I can’t. Then again, my brain is drippy Surrealist mush thanks to a certain 2000 Best Supporting Actress and her acetylene aura.