We fade up on an empty newsroom. All the lights are on, computers are on, phones are ringing non-stop, but no one's there. In the journalism industry, this is exactly what a newsroom looks like around 3 p.m. every Friday. It reminds me of the last paper I worked for, where there was a bar conveniently located across the street, and Fridays (there being no weekend edition) would see the entire newsroom staff ("entire" meaning "all five of us") skip out the back door and congregate over at Digger's. And of course, we thought we were being all sly and crafty by using the back door, but the rest of the office knew where we were. I mean, when Digger's closed down because they weren't paying the rent (not that they weren't getting significant contributions from the Times staff), the rest of the office signed a sympathy card for the newsroom, one that began, "In your time of loss..." And now I'm in a different city in a bigger newsroom, and the bar isn't across the street but a couple of blocks away, and it's called the Cornerstone. And why we go there, I'm not really sure, because we inevitably wind up in the section patrolled by the waitress we know only as Surly. She greets us with a grunt, takes hours to deliver drinks, and can mess up the orders of as few as two people. But I'm sure the good folks at CSC aren't off drinking; since the last episode ended with the news that Isaac had just had a stroke, I'm assuming they've all rushed off to the hospital. And I have to say it's fairly effective, because you're anxious to find out how Isaac's doing and these shots of a hastily deserted television studio really ratchet up the tension a notch. Although it does kind of go on for a while, with the endless shots of the empty chairs and the test patterns on the monitor, and you're almost ready to yell, "Okay, there's nobody there, you've established this nicely, thanks!"
So it's a relief when people start flooding back into the studio all at once, and the chaos is remarkably organized as people are yelling things like "I need sound!" and "I'm on it!" and this goes on almost as long as the shots of the empty studio, and Natalie actually yells "no-huddle offence," which really annoyed me, so I was glad when she did a scene hand-off to Dana, except we get more ooh-see-how-calm-and-focused-are-in-a-crisis stuff that was really starting to get irritating, and I'm pleased to see Dan and Casey standing immobile in the newsroom. Dana asks them what they're doing, and they tell her they're standing there, so thank god there is still some idiocy left for me to enjoy. She tells them they're on air in fifteen minutes, so there are other things they should be doing. Oh, so they're going to air in fifteen minutes? Okay, I guess this isn't right after last episode's show. And we find out that Dan and Casey are freaked because there was a bomb scare. Oh. Okay. There was a bomb scare. Um. What about Isaac? Anyway, Dan or Casey says, "There was a bomb scare!" Or maybe they both said it, and I don't think it matters because Dana asks if they know they've been repeating that for the past hour and twenty minutes, which pretty much sounds like normal Sorkin dialogue in any Sports Night episode I've ever seen.