THE NEWSROOM THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON, Rated TV-14, Starring Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Thomas Sadoski, John Gallagher Jr., Alison Pill, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn and Sam Waterston. Contains mature political and satirical content, coarse language and minor use of sexual references. For mature fans and Aaron Sorkin fans.
Blu-Ray Review by Dominic Messier, Founder, Editor and TV Critic
With its third and final season underway, Aaron Sorkin’s highly popular ode to the 24-hour news cycle, The Newsroom, continues its trip through recent news events, with the usual melange of interpersonal issues, ethical debates regarding world crises and some great writing and comic timing, of course.
While Season Two had more of a seasonal arc than compartmentalized stories, it still made for good TV, showcasing the importance of journalistic integrity, accuracy and honesty regarding the audience.
The bulk of the season is spent on a lead story regarding a military conflict involving American troops, in an engagement codenamed Genoa; an ambitious young producer named Jerry Dantana (Hamish Linklater) who comes in to the New York ACN office from the Washington bureau when Jim (John Gallagher Jr.) is sent out on the Mitt Romney campaign trail. It’s soon discovered that the Genoa story might not be as fascinating as it seems, until Dantana cleverly manipulates the edit of an interview with a high ranking general, so to give the impression of an admission of guilt in the illegal use of sarin gas.
This fraudulent move by the visiting staffer puts Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) and MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) in hot water with their boss Charlie (Sam Waterston) and the network owner (Jane Fonda), putting into question the station’s reputation and integrity, forcing an on-air retraction.
While all this is going on, not all is rosy in the halls of ACN: Will and Mack are still bickering over past dalliances and do the will-they-or-won’t-they dance around the idea of reconciling; the bizarre love triangle of Jim, Don (Thomas Sadoski) and Maggie (Alison Pill) continues, with Maggie running off overseas to an assignment which will traumatize her and cause her to make drastic changes to her appearance; sexy and smart financial analyst Sloan Sabbith (Olivia Munn) deals with a case of sexual humiliation; Neal keeps trying to push some story ideas to his superiors, to no avail.
The brilliance of this show so far has been its use of the recent past to help support character stories within the context of news coverage of events we’re already familiar with. By setting the show back a matter of months to a year, Sorkin is able to create conflict within his setting while still reminding us of important world events like the U.S. Presidential Election, the Cairo uprising and other current events.
There’s not as much of the patented “walk-and-talk” seen on The West Wing, but the rapid fire witty repartee is a must and is ever present in this series of episodes, with much of the banter evolving between Daniels, Mortimer and some staffers.
Thankfully, everyone gets to shine, whether the scene appears emotionally charged or occasionally comical. Therein lies the brilliance of a Sorkin script: the perfect marriage of comedy and drama without loss of quality.
I highly recommend this show to TV viewers who enjoy great writing, flawless cast chemistry and rapid-fire dialogue which still manages to tackle the big issues. I shall miss this show after its final season airs, another Sorkin product concluded leaving fans in withdrawal until he reveals another high-end concept for mass consumption.
4 out of 5
Dominic Messier is a media veteran who’s written and discussed movies for almost 20 years, from entertainment radio shows to newspaper columns to websites. Follow him on Twitter via @dommessier or join the Pop Culture Landscape with Dominic Messier page on Facebook.