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The Newsroom: The Complete First Season(TV) (2012)
The Newsroom follows the ACN news team on their quixotic mission to reclaim the legacy of Murrow and Cronkite in the face of a fickle audience, corporate mandates and tangled personal relationships.
For more about The Newsroom: The Complete First Season and the The Newsroom: The Complete First Season Blu-ray release, see the The Newsroom: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on June 13, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Alison Pill, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Sam Waterston
Directors: Alan Poul, Greg Mottola, Jeremy Podeswa, Alex Graves, Joshua Marston, Lesli Linka Glatter
» See full cast & crew
The Newsroom: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review
"Can you say why 'The Newsroom' is one of the best new shows on TV?"
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, June 13, 2013
Aaron Sorkin is a man on a mission. And, no, not a political mission, even though The Newsroom is one of the most politically assertive, perhaps even aggressive television series since, well, The West Wing, yet another sharply penned, fiercely acted, confidently produced show from the mind of Sorkin. Instead, his is a mission to blur the line between fiction, reality and idealism; to create a socially minded series worth mulling over, discussing, debating and, above all, enjoying, regardless of one's political leanings. Of course, hardline conservatives and right-wing ideologues, particularly those who hang on Fox News' every word or bleed Tea Party red (please note the or before raising hell this early in the review), won't find much to enjoy in The Newsroom, no matter how desperately it plants itself in the center aisle or extols bipartisanship and transparency. Those sitting center-right, though, and obviously anyone to the left of center-right, will find Sorkin's impassioned indictment of 24-hour News and provocative assessment of the U.S. political arena to be a wry, entertaining, timely look at the way things are and, more importantly, the way things could be.
Popular News Night anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) is a laughing stock among his colleagues, contemporaries and critics. "The Jay Leno of News Anchors," Will is addicted to ratings, and has a reputation of sacrificing anything to stay on top. But that all changes when a sudden crisis of conscience and a poorly timed question at a crowded college forum -- "Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?" -- cracks the newscaster's calm veneer and leads to a heated rant as to why he believes America no longer holds that distinction. (The fan-favorite pilot clip remains a fixture on YouTube, with the humble and innocuous title, "The most honest three and a half-minutes of television ever." It also just so happens to be a perfect litmus test as to how strongly, positively or negatively, a prospective first-time viewer will react to the series.) Soon McAvoy is embroiled in controversy, something ACN News president Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterson) and News Night's new executive producer MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) use to their advantage, relaunching Will's show as a bastion of integrity in a 24-Hour News Cycle cesspool.
Skinner, McHale and McAvoy begin by assembling a first-rate news and research unit to pull it off. (Much like I imagine Sorkin began by assembling his ensemble.) Producer Jim Harper (John Gallagher, Jr.), associate producers Maggie Jordan (Alison Pill), Tess Westin (Margaret Judson), Gary Cooper (Chris Chalk) and Martin Stallworth (Thomas Matthews), blogger Neal Sampat (Dev Patel), economist Sloan Sabbith (Olivia Munn), bookers Kendra James (Adina Porter) and Tamara Hart (Wynn Everett), and eventually former executive producer Don Keefer (Thomas Sadoski). Personality conflicts aside, the fresh News Night team quickly learns how rocky the new show's waters will be. The public doesn't warm to the change in direction as readily as Skinner, McHale and even McAvoy expect, and ratings wane the moment News Night starts covering serious stories rather than the tabloid sensationalism, political propaganda and corporate interests of other items and parties. Parent company CEO Leona Lansing (Jane Fonda) and her son, ACN president Reese Lansing (Chris Messina), take a personal interest in the flailing show, particularly in the billion-dollar targets he selects (like the Koch Brothers), and threaten to close the doors on News Night if Will and company refuse to follow orders.
The Newsroom offers a broader appeal than its "America isn't the greatest country in the world anymore" opening volley suggests. In fact, it's Sorkin's signature writing style and rapidfire dialogue -- not the series' political wranglings -- that are by far the most divisive elements of the show. Adore textbook Sorkin? You're already well on your way to eating up every minute of The Newsroom. Not that reinvention and innovation isn't on the table. Rather than construct a typical narrative, Sorkin has devised a more intriguing structure. Each episode focuses on a separate major news story, some weeks removed from the last, and leaves much of what occurs in between to the imagination. Almost immediately a legitimate sense of passing time becomes evident. Relationships stagnate. Tensions simmer without incident. Little changes. Until, that is, the arrival of another story serves as a professional catalyst with very real personal consequences. Ethics are tested. Integrity is challenged. Friendships strengthen or crumble. Conflicts rage. The status quo is altered. For as much criticism as Sorkin and his writers endured over the first season's character tangents -- the romances, the ex-romances, the new romances -- they forged a convincing workplace, a squabbling band of similarly-minded idealists, and a familiar reality: sometimes life doesn't exist outside of work, and the two become one.
More crucial to the series is the showrunners' handling of the newsroom itself. Ripping back the curtain on 24-Hour News, its follies and flaws, its benefits and costs, Sorkin uses a diverse cross section of recent historical events, cultural developments and political movements, both domestic and international -- from the rise of the Tea Party to the U.S. debt ceiling, the BP oil spill, voter ID laws, the Fukushima earthquake, the run-up to the Primary Elections, and the raid on Osama Bin Laden's Pakistani compound -- to examine U.S. policies and practices, emerging (oft-times troubling) trends in the political sphere, and the complex relationship between the public and its news sources. Yes, there are missteps and distractions along the way. The tiresome "high on the air" subplot that graces one episode (and its fallout). The amount of screentime devoted to Jim and Maggie's will-they-or-won't-they dating lives. And Will's card-carrying Republican status, which is too often more of a contrivance for balance's sake than a tool for providing insight into the beliefs and positions of the Party proper. Even so, The Newsroom is so thought-provoking, so funny, so topical, so unflinching, so moving and so infectious that anything but excitement over the series' upcoming second season almost seems hypersensitive or reactionary.
No one will appreciate every question raised or agree with every political point made in any given episode. If you're looking for a show to pat you on the back and scream, "that's what I think too!", spend more time with the pundits on Fox News or MSNBC. If you're looking for a riveting drama that tackles tough issues head on, though, typically to surprising, multifaceted ends; one that doesn't offer or accept cookie cutter sound bytes or dogmatic answers; a wonderfully cast series with heart and conviction, passion and punch; a cleverly written show that dares believe in the best in all of us... welcome to The Newsroom.
The Newsroom: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
HBO continues its reign over high definition TV releases with The Newsroom: The Complete First Season and its flawless 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation. From start to finish, "We Just Decided To" to "The Greater Fool," the series looks fantastic, complete with warm, lifelike colors, perfectly saturated skintones, strong primaries, deep black levels and consistently striking contrast. Detail is outstanding too, with crisp, clean edges (sans any significant ringing or aliasing), well-resolved textures, refined and unobtrusive grain, and revealing delineation. Closeups are especially impressive, and I had an abnormally hard time paring down the screenshots I captured to a select few. Better still, macroblocking and banding are nowhere to be found, noise isn't an issue, and other anomalies never materialize. I came away from all ten episodes without a single complaint. And while I'm sure I missed a blip or artifact somewhere, HBO's oh-so-proficient presentation brushes as close to perfection as any high-scoring series or season the network has released on Blu-ray.
The Newsroom: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The first season's true to its source DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is an excellent one, with pinpoint prioritization, solid dynamics and an immersive soundfield. No, the rear speakers aren't as engaging as the center channel or forward soundscape, but only because this is a Sorkin series, and conversations, arguments and whiplash dialogue rule supreme. Still, the newsroom itself is bustling with activity, all realized with convincing directionality, smooth pans and a so-convincing-its-easy-to-overlook naturalism. LFE output is restrained but reliable as well, lending just enough power, pulse and momentum to the series' score to help propel the drama along. Voices, meanwhile, are clean and clear, fully supported, and nicely grounded. Compared to, say, a True Blood lossless track, The Newsroom experience is quaint and uneventful. Judged on its own merit, though, the series' mix fares as well as any other, and manages everything in its reach with precision and class.
The Newsroom: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Newsroom: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Newsroom isn't for everyone, but it's meant for everyone. In a better world, with more open-mindedness and less partisan bickering and propagandizing, it would be for everyone. And, to that extent, Sorkin and company perhaps bite off more than they can chew, attacking 24-Hour News, U.S. politics, cultural trends and other big targets, all while attempting to pull off an entertaining ensemble drama. But the lengths to which they go to inspire discussion and debate, rather than push or preach, all while very much pulling off an entertaining ensemble drama makes the HBO series one of the best new shows on TV. HBO's Blu-ray release of The Complete First Season impresses too, with a terrific video presentation, excellent DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, and a solid selection of special features. I can't recommend this one enough, no matter what your political affiliation or beliefs may be. If nothing else, it will generate thought and discussion, and thought and discussion -- contrary to what many political extremists insist -- are noble pursuits. They were once American pursuits. Perhaps, as The Newsroom so hopes, they will be again one day.
The Newsroom: Other Seasons
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The Newsroom: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Newsroom: The Complete First Season Blu-ray - February 8, 2013
HBO Home Entertainment has officially announced and detailed the Blu-ray release of creator Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom: The Complete First Season. Sorkin's sharply penned sociopolitical drama stars Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher, Jr., Alison Pill, ...
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