The Complete First Season
Blu-ray/DVD/Digital l DVD
CREATED BY: Aaron Sorkin
DIRECTORS: Greg Mottola, Alan Poul, Alex Graves, Daniel Minahan, Jeremy Podeswa, Joshua Marston, Lesli Linka Glatter
WRITERS: Aaron Sorkin, Gideon Yago
CAST: Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Sam Waterston, John Gallagher, Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Jane Fonda, Chris Messina, David Krumholtz, Patton Oswalt, Marcia Gay Harden
RELEASE DATE: June 11, 2013
With shows like Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, and True Blood leading the charge, it’s clear that HBO’s hit shows can often have a hefty budget and rely heavily on visual effects and costumes and so on. One of their newer series, The Newsroom, is not one of those shows.
Created by Aaron Sorkin, the show is simple enough on the surface—being about the inner workings of a news team—but a collection of lives intertwined within this newsroom setting leads to plenty of interesting storylines as the show progresses. Instead of the aforementioned effects and costumes, it instead relies on two key things: writing and acting, and nails both of them consistently.
The Newsroom opens with news anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) going off on a rant on live TV, which leads to his executive producer Don (Thomas Sadoski) leaving for another show on the network and taking most of McAvoy’s team with him. President of the news division Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston) sees the disaster unfolding and acts quickly to not only stop the bleeding, so to speak, but rebuild entirely, including bringing in McAvoy’s ex-girlfriend MacKenzie Morgan (Emily Mortimer) as the new executive producer…something that does not go over well with him at all.
As mentioned, the show is all about writing and acting and does both really well. When a show is created, written by, and executive produced by Sorkin—an Oscar and Golden Globe winner for The Social Network and multi-time Emmy winner for The West Wing—you know writing is of paramount importance. The dialogue comes fast and furiously, jumping from dramatic to sarcastic to humorous to witty as necessary.
The writing only works if the actors capably perform the lines, of course, and The Newsroom‘s ensemble cast impresses often. Daniels is great as McAvoy, and all of the actors around him do outstanding work. But there’s two actors who stand out for me personally, and that’s Mortimer as Mackenzie, who has great back-and-forth with and often stands toe-to-toe with Daniels’ intimidating McAvoy character, and Waterston, who’s absolutely fantastic as the head of the news division, going about his work with a hilariously laid back, sometimes childlike approach.
The show is smartly set a couple of years prior to present day, which allows Sorkin to integrate actual significant news stories from the past few years. This helps greatly in fueling the newsroom storylines, and is sometimes surreal as you re-live some major world events like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill or the killing of Osama bin Laden.
If you live solely off of TV shows that feature lots of visual effects, such as the above mentioned Game of Thrones and True Blood, then The Newsroom might not fit your tastes very well. But if you have a fondness and appreciation for the crafts of writing and acting, and you live for varieties of characters—likable and unlikable alike—it’s a show that should not be missed.
Each episode of the first season comes with an “Inside the Episode” option, which are short and talk a little about the episode. There’s also some deleted scenes to watch, a roundtable discussion about the show involving the cast and crew, audio commentary, and a brief behind the scenes featurette.