The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
"More on this story as it develops"
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)
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
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.
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.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
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Thanks for that review, Ralph! Don't have HBO and really wanted to check this series out, so I'll definitely rent it first and then perhaps make a purchase if it's up to par with other Aaron Sorkin efforts. However, with HBO's track record of canceling good shows I'm wary about buying it.
They never even completed the Blu-ray sets of The Sopranos and that was a huge hit!! Only the First and Sixth. Why do you they think no one bought them????????
Just wanted to point out that this show is extremely liberal, so people should probably know that before purchasing such a politically charged show. If you are more right-leaning, you probably won't enjoy the show all that much. Thanks for the review, however.
Yah, I was really hoping it was taken a more center approach. I am pretty open minded with regards to politics, but I kept finding myself cringing throughout the show too much to even enjoy it. It is fine for the characters to have political opinions, especially in a news show, but if there ever was a good example of a show having a political agenda, this is it.
Actually, no its not. But it is set in a "liberal" environment. I can't imagine anyone would expect anything different from Sorkin.
I think the show has many moments of typical Sorkin brilliance. It's essentially a re-staging of The West Wing with very similar characters. But several episodes tend to fall flat, although over all the season is a winner.
From the clips I've seen of The Newsroom, I think it more or less lambasts the sorry state of real news and politics (whether it be conservative or liberal leaning or floundering to find itself like today's CNN or more moderate political voices) just like the best parts of The Daily Show. Sorkin is crying out for the golden era of Edward R. Murrow, Cronkite, and after that early CNN from the 80's and 90's when news gathering was of substance and not a bunch of infotainment B.S.
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