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Newsroom: Season 2, The

HBO // Unrated // November 4, 2014
List Price: $59.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted November 5, 2014 | E-mail the Author

The Season:

Even though it's supposed to be an accurate representation of a contemporary newsroom in a major network, Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom is more of a product of fantasy than Game of Thrones. It's full of characters who value journalistic integrity above everything else, including the well-being of their corporate owners and their lofty careers, while we all know that the modern news world is so jaded and so hungry for ratings, sensationalism, empty opinion pieces and partisan talking points that Sorkin's characters end up looking like anachronistic oddities.

If the show took place in the Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite era when journalistic integrity in television news meant something, the many monologues full of preachy grandstanding about telling the brutal truth regarding world affairs in an objective fashion while doing the right thing for the good of the public would have meant something.

If it took place in the 50s, the show could have jumped on that Mad Men bandwagon and at least wouldn't have stunk of My Little Pony-esque wishful thinking. Hell, Paddy Chayefsky's prophetic masterpiece Network predicted the television news' switch from objective journalism into tabloid entertainment almost forty years ago. It looks like Sorkin didn't get the memo.

The fact that The Newsroom utilizes the gimmick of having the characters report on actual news that took place about a year before the premiere of each episode makes matters worse as it feels like a desperate attempt at artificially injecting the show with some realism in order to cover up how full of crap it really is. Another huge issue of course is that it mixes in Grey's Anatomy-level inter-office clunky soap opera romance and sex in the middle of holier than thou preaching to the choir.

In all fairness, the second season of The Newsroom is slightly better than the first, but not enough to keep watching HBO's gross misfire, which is luckily coming to an end after the upcoming third season. There are some decent episodes here among the usual mix of various love triangles soaked in 1940s style wisecracking rom-com material mixed with the oh-so-integrity-filled actions of the AGN staff, the fictional network where The Newsroom takes place.

The storylines that focus on personal experiences of the characters, away from their convoluted romantic connections to the rest of the ensemble, are the ones that are heartfelt and moving. Perhaps the best storyline in this season is Maggie's (Alison Pill) heartbreaking journey into Uganda. It takes the character away from her annoying White People Problems world and turns her universe upside down, leaving behind perhaps the only character in the show who has some depth.

The tech geek Neal (Dev Patel) was always a woefully underused character and it was fun to see him go after the Occupy Wall Street movement when no one else was interested in it (We all know how that one turned out).

Sorkin and company try to shake things up from last year by creating a framing device for the entire season as the people at AGN face a serious legal problem. But of course the one issue on every fan's mind will be whether or not superanchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels, who's too good for this obvious material) and superproducer MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer. Also, who the hell comes up with the names for these characters, Ronald McDonald?) will finally get back together. The answer to that question is buried in a season finale that feels extremely rushed.

The DVD:


For a standard definition transfer, The Newsroom's second season is actually quite impressive. After all, HBO practically invented stellar DVD releases for TV shows and they continue with this tradition even after the takeover of Blu-Ray. The videos transfer sports as much detail and definition as possible for an SD presentation.


It's beyond a doubt that Sorkin loves his trademark walk-and-talk fast-paced dialogue so all the 5.1 Dolby Digital track that's included on the DVD has to do is to provide a clear mix that focuses on that very dialogue. It does a good job at that and not much else, so don't expect any strong surround presence. This is a DVD set that would sound fine played out of TV speakers.


The extras are divided across the three DVDs that comprise the set instead of being dumped into the last disc.

Inside The Episodes: In these brief introduction-style videos (Even though they have to be accessed through the Features menu), Aaron Sorkin talks about the issues the show dealt with in each episode. There's a separate clip for each of the 9 episodes.

Deleted Scenes: there are two deleted scenes in total. One is in the first disc where three members of the AGN team play fantasy football and one in the final disc that briefly depicts Will stressing over the election coverage.

Audio Commentaries: There are commentaries included for four episodes, 1, 5, 7, and 9. Each commentary has different members of the cast and crew with Sorkin as the only one who appears in all of them. They are fun, breezy and should be very informative for die-hard fans of the show.

Final Thoughts:

I decided to give The Newsroom another shot after finding the first season to be glib, cloying and out of its time. The second season is slightly better but is still plagued by the same problem of trying to mix unfounded idealism with below-HBO-standard attempts at wisecracking romance. Fans of the first season should still be pleased but for those still living in the real world, don't waste your time.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and

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