The Newsroom: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review
As I prepare to write about my love and amazement with Aaron Sorkin’s latest venture into television, ‘The Newsroom’, I pause to reflect on the subject matter the show covered and the way it covered it. For those that aren’t familiar with the show, it focuses on the producers of an evening news program that decide they’re not going to cave into cheap gags and empty stories for ratings, but instead are going to report the actual news and dive into the issues that impact the country. It’s a great premise as each episode tackles a controversial topic and for a brief moment, we get to see what the news should be and not what our current media culture wants it to be. But in a country with so many extremist right wing conservatives and blind liberals, I’m not sure the majority of the people watching ‘The Newsroom’ will appreciate what the show is trying to do. So if you’re trying to decide whether or not to give the show a chance, then I want to make it easy for you; watch the clip below where Jeff Daniels’ character gives a monologue about America. If you like it and agree with what he’s saying, then ‘The Newsroom’ is for you and you should continue reading this review. If you’re instantly offended or don’t understand what he’s saying, then you should stop reading and get back to your normal activities.
Still here? Good. HBO’s ‘The Newsroom’ is a fantastic show that showcases some of Aaron Sorkin’s best, most intelligent writing to date. If you’ve ever longed for the days of Cronkite or Murrow, when the news was reported because it was important and not because advertisers liked it, then ‘The Newsroom’ is right up your alley. As the show plays with the different themes, it also tries to stay party neutral, but it’s hard, especially in case of the Tea Party. If you don’t know anything about the Tea Party or consider yourself a part of it, then the second half of the first season of ‘The Newsroom’ might anger you. In fact, it should anger you, but not because the show sometimes feels like it’s attacking the party, but because of how the party has swindled America. You shouldn’t get all your facts from a fictitious TV show, but if this glamorized HBO show inspires you to research particular topics on your own, then I’d say the show has done its job.
But if you wanted the news, you’d watch the news. The most impressive aspect of ‘The Newsroom’ is its ability to make the news interesting. The show really explores the behind the scenes maneuvering of a news program and the audience is captivated as the producers try to get guests to come on the show or to confirm sources for a controversial story. The writing is so quick and witty that even mundane topics are fascinating and the speed of the dialogue is so fast that it forces you to pay attention or risk missing a key element of the plot. When you couple that with one of the best lead characters on TV in Will McAvoy, you have yourself an intelligent and captivating show.
Of course, good writing can only get you so far and means nothing if you don’t have talented actors reciting those lines. The show gets the absolute most from the underrated Jeff Daniels. He embodies Will McAvoy to perfection and manages to be obnoxious and endearing at the same time. After you finish the first season of ‘The Newsroom’, you’ll wish McAvoy was your nightly newscaster. He’s not alone on the show; Emily Mortimer is perfect as his ex-girlfriend and current producer MacKenzie McHale and supporting actors like John Gallagher, Allison Pill and Thomas Sadoski provide enough talent to make their storylines almost as interesting as Will and MacKenzie’s.
I had heard the common complaint that ‘The Newsroom’ starts out great with the first episode and then teeters off as the season progresses, but I couldn’t disagree more. Sure, the opening monologue was the extreme high point of the first season, but every episode is great. If there is a downside to ‘The Newsroom’, it’s with the romantic subplots. The Jim and Maggie relationship tries hard, but it’s difficult to root for any guy trying to date Maggie. The underlying tension between Will and MacKenzie works at times, but I’m glad they didn’t push it too far. Aaron Sorkin is great at politics and sports, but he still struggles when it comes to writing relationships. His quick-witted, fast talking, snappy dialogue works extremely well in a professional environment, but not so much when two people are in an intimate setting.
Clearly, I’m a fan of ‘The Newsroom’, not only for how great and entertaining the show can be, but for the fantasy it creates of a news program doing real news. That idea is a nice dream that I wish were a reality, but until it is, I’ll be more than happy watching Will McAvoy fight the good fight in ‘The Newsroom’.
THE NEWSROOM: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: ‘The Newsroom’ looks stunning on Blu-ray. HBO continues to deliver perfect video on their Blu-rays.
Audio: The audio is equally impressive.
Commentary on Five Episodes: Aaron Sorkin, Jeff Daniels, Olivia Munn and others show up to talk about five various episodes. I always find TV commentaries tiresome, but I liked the ones with Aaron Sorkin (especially on ‘We Just Decided To’). The commentaries with just the actors dragged a little bit.
Inside the Episode: This is a quick feature available on each episode that gives some more detail about the episode.
Deleted Scenes (5:52): I found five deleted scenes, none of which were very noteworthy.
Mission Control (4:56): This is a brief behind the scenes look at The Newsroom.
Roundtable (26:02): Aaron Sorkin, Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Sam Waterson, Greg Mottola and Alan Poul sit at a table and discuss the first season. Roundtable discussions with people that love their work are always great and this one might be the highlight of the special features.