The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: HBO - 2012
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Feature running time: 610 minutes
Genre: TV Drama
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French DTS 5.1, Spanish Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish
Starring: Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Sam Waterson, Alison Pill, John Gallagher Jr., Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Oilvia Munn, Chris Messina, Kelen Coleman
Directed by: Alan Poul & Greg Mottola
Music by: Alex Wurman
Written by: Aaron Sorkin
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 11, 2013
HBO presents a series from the fertile mind of Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) and executive produced by Sorkin, Scott Rudin and Alan Poul. Smart, topical, humorous and highly entertaining, The Newsroom takes a behind-the-scenes look at a high-rated cable-news program at the fictional ACN Network, focusing on the on- and off-camera lives of its acerbic anchor (Jeff Daniels), new executive producer (Emily Mortimer), their newsroom staff (John Gallagher, Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Olivia Munn, Dev Patel and others) and their news-division boss (Sam Waterston). Overcoming a tumultuous first day together - climaxing in a newsflash that a BP oil rig has just exploded in the Gulf of Mexico - the team sets out on a patriotic if quixotic mission to "do the news well" in the face of corporate and commercial obstacles, and their own personal entanglements.
A favorite with viewers, news anchor Will McAvoy has found a safe niche with bankable ratings on his 8:00 p.m. flagship cable show, "News Night." Numbed by success, McAvoy has become stoic, complacent and cynical, content not to rock the boat as he delivers the nightly news straight down the middle of the road. In a literal blink of an eye, McAvoy is catapulted from apathy to engagement when a spontaneous outburst leads him to tackle the principles of American patriotism in a public forum prompting his staff to jump ship. Setting the stage for Will's return, his boss Charlie covertly orchestrates the hiring of his ex-girlfriend, MacKenzie McHale, as his new executive producer. With their shared past, she knows exactly how good he can be. Even more unsettling for him, she challenges Will to abandon the successful, middle-of-the-road approach that has made him so popular with both sides of the aisle, and realize his full potential by delivering the news with integrity.
I didn’t have the opportunity to catch The Newsroom during its broadcast season but looked forward to seeing it upon its release on Blu-ray. It’s a heady TV drama that revolves around a fictional TV News Network, ACN, its star anchor, and the support staff that puts the show together. The show integrates real news stories into the script beginning in 2010 with the BP oil spill and touching on headlining events such as the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the presidential election, The Anthony Weiner scandal, and the Casey Anthony trial. Amidst that we get a behind the scenes look at what goes into producing a flagship news program and the trials and tribulations associated with dealing with tabloid media, social networking, ratings driven corporate decisions, and the interpersonal relationships that ebb, flow and threaten to derail the entire operation.
The Newsroom probably qualifies as high brow entertainment that speaks to matters that make for interesting and passionate coffee table discussion. It is an intelligently written show that adheres to its theme with narratives that reflect viewpoints about a variety of topics most of which involve political indignation, corporate greed, and the struggles of a group of news people desirous of getting away from today’s obsession with tabloid style reporting and returning to the art of bringing viably important and relevant news to the masses. I watched the series with my wife and we were hooked right from the start. Writer Aaron Sorkin stays on point, mingling plenty of topical situations with character derived drama that never strays too far from the central plot. It can be dialogue heavy at times leaving you a bit punch drunk but it rewards with witty banter, biting commentary and wonderfully drawn characters that are fallible, affable and interestingly interwoven in the evolving storyline.
The cast is lead by Jeff Daniels who is simply marvelous as the engaging Will McAvoy. I find Emily Mortimer’s scratchy delivery and foot stomping rages as executive producer MacKenzie “Mac” McHale to be off putting but predominantly speaking she holds her own opposite Daniels. The remaining members of the cast Sam Waterson, Alison Pill, John Gallagher Jr., Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Chris Messina, Kelen Coleman and Olivia Munn shine in support of the shows various subplots and narrative offshoots. I can’t say that each and every episode had us riveted however those that did paid dividends.
Season one is spread out over four BD-50 dual layered Blu-ray discs with the bonus content is integrated throughout. There are five audio commentaries by the series creators and cast members that further enhance the viewing experience. The set comes housed in a sturdy cardboard keep case/slipcover with the discs located in a book style foldout containing a spot for each along with a separate cardboard case for the two flipper DVDs.
I really enjoyed The Newsroom and appreciated its salty/savvy commentary, engaging themes and well drawn characters. I look forward to season two which airs in July on HBO.
The rating is for language, drug references, sensuality and thematic material.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Newsroom The complete first season comes to Blu-ray from HBO featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 27 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.5 Mbps.
This television series effectively uses visual aesthetics (predominantly lighting) to set the tone based upon the mood of a particular scene. In all respects there is a pleasing blend of primary colors that are capably offset by delineated secondary hues. Fleshtones are on the warm side but are tonally balanced and lifelike in depiction. Resolution is estimable as close ups and midlevel pans have appreciable depth while exhibiting varying levels of refinement. Fine detail isn’t always copiously on display which results in images appearing less delineated at times. On the contrary there are many instances where the video has defining sharpness and lucidity. Contrast is stable and blacks have appreciable dynamic range but are mildly crushed which in some instances makes subtle gradations harder to detect. This isn’t problematic as there are few instances of low level sequences where it is even noticeable. I didn’t see any obvious signs of video related anomalies.
The multi-channel lossless audio won’t test the limits of your surround sound system but it capably delivers the elements present in the show’s soundtrack. Dialogue is tonally rich with excellent room penetration and defining clarity. Dynamic range and bass response is appropriate in support of the track’s recorded elements. The front channels handle the bulk of the audio and presents an open two dimensional soundstage with the surrounds supplying ambient detail. I think the mix mates perfectly with the source material and sounds great.
- (HD) Mission Control" - a behind-the-scenes look at the state-of-the-art sets with cast and crew – 5 minutes
- (HD)The Roundtable" - Aaron Sorkin, executive producer Alan Poul, co-executive producer Greg Mottola, Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer and Sam Waterston discuss in detail their experiences shooting the first season in this exclusive conversation – 25 minutes
- (HD) 5 Deleted Scenes
- 5 Audio Commentaries featuring Aaron Sorkin, executive producer Alan Poul, cast members Jeff Daniels, Sam Waterston, Emily Mortimer and more
- (HD) “Inside the Episodes” - Get the inside perspective on each of the episodes with revealing interviews from Aaron Sorkin
- (HD) Episodic Previews/Recaps
- Bonus DVD (flipper)
- Digital Copy
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
The Newsroom is an intelligently written show that adheres to narrative themes that reflect viewpoints about a variety of topics most of which involve political indignation, corporate greed, and the struggles of a group of news people desirous of getting away from today’s obsession with tabloid style reporting and returning to the art of bringing viably important and relevant news to the masses. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from HBO featuring gratifying high definition audio/video and a decent supplemental package highlighted by enlightening and entertaining commentary tracks and a revealing cast/crew roundtable discussion. I thoroughly enjoyed season one and hope to catch season two when it airs this summer on HBO. If you’re a fan this set it worth picking up. For those not familiar with the show give this a rent or try and catch it on demand. It’s well worth your time.
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JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package