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HBO

SERIES INFO

Created By:
Aaron Sorkin
Cast:
Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Sam Waterston
Writing Credits:
Various

Tagline:
Together They Stand Alone.

Synopsis:
Season 2 takes place over a five-day period leading up to Election Day 2012, and encompasses numerous flashbacks to earlier events from 2011 and 2012. One of the season's major story arcs involves a wrongful-termination lawsuit made by a staff member alleged to have doctored a report about a suspicious U.S. drone strike. As details about the suit's origin and aftermath emerge, The Newsroom team continues its quixotic mission to "do the news well" in the face of corporate and commercial obstacles, and their personal entanglements.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS 2.0
French DTS 5.1
Castillian DTS 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Castillian
Danish
Finnish
Norwegian
Swedish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Castillian

Runtime: 540 min.
Price: $79.98
Release Date: 11/4/14

Bonus:
• Audio Commentaries for Four Episodes
• “Inside the Episode” Featurettes
• Deleted Scenes


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Newsroom: The Complete Second Season [Blu-Ray] (2013)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 28, 2014)

With this package, we find Season Two of the HBO program The Newsroom. As occurred with Season One, this concentrates on the people and events within a fictional TV news studio. The Blu-ray set spreads all of Season Two’s nine episodes across two discs. The plot synopses come straight from the Blu-ray menus.

First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers: “Will (Jeff Daniels) and the News Night staff are questioned by their lawyer about a story they’ve aired that’s become a network crisis. An on-air remark from Will has him pulled from 9/11 anniversary coverage. Jim (John Gallagher, Jr.) volunteers to cover for an embed reporter on the Romney campaign, and Neal (Dev Patel) investigates the beginnings of Occupy Wall Street.”

Season One of The Newsroom took on events of 2010-2011, and Season Two goes for 2011-2012; as seen here, it starts in August 2011 and will finish in November 2012. The manner in which it touches on fairly recent events gives it a little perspective; there’s not much distance but we find enough to ensure that the opinions aren’t wholly reactionary.

Though they’re not exactly told in a neutral manner, as the series tends to wear its opinions on its sleeve. It also likes to speechify a whole bunch and to throw out dialogue that no human would ever actually speak.

One’s enjoyment of Newsroom will depend on your tolerance for those trends. I fluctuate, as I can enjoy the show’s artificial dialogue but also find it to be off-putting, and the same goes for its attitudes toward politics/news.

“Lawyers” accentuates the series’ strengths and weaknesses, though the episode mostly stays on the right side of that ledger. It flounders when it deals with Occupy, as it seems more invested in echoing that movement’s goals than anything else, but it provides better insight when it deals with other areas. These add to an erratic but mostly solid launch to the season.

The Genoa Tip: “A tip on a story that will ultimately cripple the network starts to become more real. MacKenzie (Emily Mortimer) and Sloan (Olivia Munn) continue to push Will on drones as Don (Thomas Sadoski) urges Will to advocate for Troy Davis. Maggie (Alison Pill) is un-friended by her roommate but gets the assignment she’s been begging for. Neal gets arrested on Wall Street.”

For me, Newsroom works best when it avoids moralizing and/or the personal lives of its characters and concentrates on the news operation. “Tip” mixes those various issues in a fairly satisfying manner, though it tends more toward the soap opera side than I might like. Still, it percolates in a mostly good manner and sets up various subjects well.

Willie Pete: “Will continues his mission to civilize by telling Nina Howard the truth. A new witness to the Genoa story emerges on Twitter, and in New Hampshire, Jim’s efforts to have his questions answered continue to fall on deaf ears.”

Expect another semi-mixed bag from “Pete”. It launches on a rough note via one of its patented moral tirades, but it rebounds after that – mostly. I don’t think there’ll ever be a truly consistent episode of Newsroom, as it usually finds a way to shoot itself in the foot, but “Pete” still manages to develop various threads in a compelling manner – once it gets past that opening and some other politically heavy-handed bits.

Unintended Consequences: “Maggie tries to convince Rebecca (Marcia Gay Harden) she’s fine following her shattering trip to Africa with Gary (Chris Chalk). An Occupy Wall Street protester with a Black Op lead refuses to cooperate with Neal and Jerry (Hamish Linklater) after an on-air interview with Will goes poorly. Jim lands Hallie (Grace Gummer) a one-on-one interview but gets heat from Mac as a result.”

Though the show may come with the title “Unintended Consequences”, the episode follows fairly predictable paths. That’s especially in true in the case of Jim’s story, but it occurs elsewhere as well. These issues don’t make “Consequences” a bad show, but it seems a little lackluster.

News Night with Will McAvoy: “Will is distracted during his telecast by a phone call and an unflattering Twitter post. Charlie gets a visit from a longtime friend from the Office of Naval Intelligence, who has knowledge of Operation Genoa. Sloan phases from humiliation to rage following a revenge posting. The newsroom traverses the slippery slope separating fact from fiction.”

With this show, the series jumps forward quite a few months, which makes it jarring, as the program doesn’t handle the shift in the smoothest manner. This means that the show doesn’t flow quite as well as I might like; it develops some issues but feels a bit out of left field.

One Step Too Many: “Mac and Charlie score a key witness – a retired Marine general – in their attempt to corroborate Dantana’s Operation Genoa story. Will follows Nina’s lead to soften his image by making an impromptu appearance on a morning talk show. Jim gets unexpected company during his reunion with Hallie, who’s in town to cover a Romney rally.”

The Genoa narrative gets a good push here, as do a variety of character areas. Of course, some of the usual editorializing comes along for the ride; it’s hard to find an episode of Newsroom that doesn’t follow that path. Even with those moments, “Step” moves along the season well.

Red Team III: “Through depositions with the newsroom staff, Rebecca pieces together the events that led to ACN’s fateful decision to go forward with Dantana’s special report on Operation Genoa – as well as the post-air revelations that undermined its credibility. The repercussions threaten to ruin News Night while eclipsing breaking ness during another 9/11 anniversary.”

After seeing Genoa as a continuing backdrop all season, that thread leaps to the fore in the involving “Team”. The program digs into the issues in a satisfying manner and brings us up to date well. The show leaves me eager to see what happens to finish off the season – the only negative comes from the possibility that the excellent Marcia Gay Harden will no longer appear once the legal case gets resolved.

Election Night, Part I: “In the wake of Leona’s (Jane Fonda” refusal to accept the resignations of three top CAN talents, News Night goes forward with its 2012 election night coverage, with Will in the unlikely role of Director of Morale. Sloan is perturbed that her book was auctioned off with a forged signature, while Mac tasks Neal to fix a faulty Wikipedia page. Mindful that Charlie wants a screw-up free eventing, Jim weighs the cons of retracting a call he made too soon. The team deliberates whether to hold off on a story that might impact a tight Senate race.”

When I encounter two-part episodes, I save my comments for the finale.

Election Night, Part II: “As Election Night 2012 winds down, Will and Charlie await a decision from Reese (Chris Messina) that may impact their future at CAN, and that of the entire senior staff. Sloan learns the identity of the anonymous winning bidder for her book; Don discusses a countersuit against Dantana with Rebecca; Neal turns to Hallie for help giving Mac a parting gift; Jim tries to make peace with Lisa, encouraging Maggie to do the same; Will has a revelation while Charlie is sharing his.”

The season ends on a positive note with the exciting two-part episode. It gives us some good revelations and concludes the year’s narrative arc in a satisfying manner.

Though my review of Season One was mostly positive, I admit I came into Season Two with some trepidation, as I remembered the series’ preachiness more than anything else. S2 comes with some of that but seems better balanced and less strident. While it still flounders at times, S2 demonstrates a more mature, involving and enjoyable Newsroom.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C

The Newsroom appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The series’ visuals usually looked quite good.

The shows offered solid clarity; only a smidgen of softness materialized, so definition was usually positive. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws failed to mar the presentation.

The series opted for a subdued palette with a moderate teal tint. Within those parameters, the colors seemed fine. Blacks were pretty deep and tight, while shadows appeared positive, with only a little opacity on occasion. Overall, the shows provided appealing visuals.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack suited the shows but won't win any awards. The soundstage appeared nicely broad at the appropriate times and could be moderately engulfing on occasion. It's a talky little series, so the focus was mainly up front, but the audio expanded when necessary. This occurred mostly via gentle environmental ambience, so the surrounds didn’t have a lot to do. Occasional thunder added the most pep and that was about it. That said, the imaging made sense for the series.

Sound quality seemed fine. Dialogue always appeared crisp and natural, and I had no trouble understanding it. The low-key music that acted as the score was warm and distinctive. Effects also seemed realistic and adequate for the tasks at hand. Newsroom won't be anyone's demo track, but the mix worked well for the series.

We get four audio commentaries here. Here’s the list:

“First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers”: creator/executive producer Aaron Sorkin, executive producer/director Alan Poul and actors Jeff Daniels and Sam Waterston.

“News Night with Will McAvoy”: Daniels, Poul and actor Emily Mortimer.

“Red Team III”: Mortimer, Poul, director Anthony Hemingway and actors Thomas Sadoski and Hamish Linklater.

“Election Night, Part II”: Sorkin, Daniels, Poul and actors Constance Ziimmer and Olivia Munn.

During the conversations, we hear about story/character subjects and themes, cast and performances, camerawork and editing, sets and locations, and other aspects of the series. If you heard the commentaries for Season One, you’ll know what to expect here. The chats come with decent morsels of information but they never become especially insightful. Though they remain worth a listen, they don’t add a ton to our understanding of the series.

Next we find two Deleted Scenes. These accompany “First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers” (2:16) and “Election Night, Part II” (1:09). “Lawyers” focuses on the fantasy football draft and some character issues, while “Night” shows a bit more election coverage. Neither adds a whole lot.

We find Inside the Episode featurettes for all the season’s episodes: “First Thing…” (2:37), “The Genoa Tip” (3:13), “Willie Pete” (2:22), “Unintended Consequences” (2:21), “News Night with Will McAvoy” (2:51), “One Step Too Many” (1:59), “Red Team III” (), “Election Night Part I” (2:11) and “Election Night Part II” (4:49). Across these, Sorkin discusses various character/story elements and other aspects of the shows. These act as sort of an expansion of the commentaries, and they throw in some good thoughts, though they do tend to act as recaps more than anything else.

While I liked much of the series’ first season, I thought The Newsroom had enough problems to make me less than excited about Season Two. Happily, the show offers clear improvements in its second term; the negatives still appear, but not to the same degree, so S2 works well overall. The Blu-ray comes with very good picture, more than acceptable audio and a handful of supplements. Season Two probably won’t convert those who didn’t live Season One, but I think it shows growth and becomes a compelling package of shows.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main