Politics and television have both been staples of Aaron Sorkin‘s previous television series. With The Newsroom the show’s creator examines both simultaneously. The HBO original series centers around moderate Republican news anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) whose eruption about America’s shortcomings during a debate is used by his boss Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston) to move the show to a more traditional news program whose main objective is to inform its viewers.
The change causes friction with the news program’s corporate owner (Jane Fonda) and a complete overhaul of the staff beginning with Skinner hiring Will’s ex-girlfriend MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) to produce. Also on board for the ride are Mac’s right-hand man Jim (John Gallagher Jr.), the often erratic Maggie (Alison Pill), and the other behind-the-scenes members of the news program (including Dev Patel, Adina Porter, and Margaret Judson).
The First Season of the show focuses a little too much for my tastes on the various romantic entanglements such as Will still dealing with MacKenzie’s affair years later and the insipidly cute Jim/Maggie/Don (Thomas Sadoski)/Lisa (Kelen Coleman) storyline. Highlights of the First Season include the coverage of the death of Osama bin Laden, Will’s unusual trip to the psychiatrist, unrest in Egypt, and both the show’s premiere and the First Season finale.
Although the First Season doesn’t contain any stinkers, the quality of the show, its writing, and its use of the supporting characters does vary over the course of 10 episodes. When the show keeps the romantic craziness in the background as merely another distraction it works far better than when those same stories occasionally take over. The promise of the first episode is realized several times over the season, and the show ends on a high note that (at least temporarily) keeps Will and the show’s new format on the air while also revisiting his initial tirade which started the ball rolling.
The six-disc collection includes commentaries from Sorkin and his stars on five of the show’s 10 First Season episodes. Also included are interviews with the cast and crew about the show’s First Season, short featurettes on the episodes, deleted scenes, and a behind-the-scenes look at The Newsroom set.
[HBO Home Video, Blu-ray $79.98 / DVD $59.99]