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Almost everything works like clockwork on this TV-on-BD edition of Aaron Sorkin's latest show....
HBO / 610 Minutes / 2012 / Unrated / Street Date: June 11, 2013
Aaron Sorkin is a magic man, an entertainer who has equal love for both the human question and be-here-now cultural import, and his new show, The Newsroom, has his fingerprints all over it. Characters large and small zip through uncannily lucid monologues, real events collide with invented melodrama with smart, witty impact, and the whole thing just feels real, like you’re in the boardroom with these guys as they try to figure out how to bring issues of the day – the BP oil spill, Arizona’s immigration bill – to the masses.
Yet this expansive Broadcast News for the internet generation lacks one major thing: a heart. Hearing Sam Waterston say words like ‘douchebaggery’ as he drunkenly stumbles through a PowerPoint presentation is proof that Sorkin has the ability to get any actor to do anything, but even though The Newsroom speeds along with well-oiled locomotion, its characters feel more like passengers than co-pilots: everything works on the show, but there’s no lightning striking the thing to bubbling life.
But if this is what grand yet uninspired TV looks like, it’s frequently thrilling. In addition to Jeff Daniels and a sparkling regular cast, The Newsroom: The Complete First Season showcases an exceptional supporting squad – Jane Fonda, Patton Oswalt, Marcia Gay Harden – that keeps things interesting around every turn. But the show reverts to mouthpiece sentiment more often than it should, and as smart as many of its philosophical and political sentiments might be, they resound intellectually but not emotionally. Perhaps its newest season will infuse The Newsroom’s monster intellect with some good, old-fashioned interpersonal melodrama.