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The Newsroom: Season 1

4.7 out of 5 stars 13,801 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

HBO presents the new one-hour drama series from the fertile mind of Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) and executive produced by Sorkin, Scott Rudin and Alan Poul. Smart, topical, humorous and highly entertaining, The Newsroom takes a behind-the-scenes look at a high-rated cable-news program at the fictional ACN Network, focusing on the on- and off-camera lives of its acerbic anchor (Jeff Daniels), new executive producer (Emily Mortimer), their newsroom staff (John Gallagher, Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Olivia Munn, Dev Patel and others) and their news-division boss (Sam Waterston). Overcoming a tumultuous first day together – climaxing in a newsflash that a BP oil rig has just exploded in the Gulf of Mexico – the team sets out on a patriotic if quixotic mission to “do the news well” in the face of corporate and commercial obstacles, and their own personal entanglements.


The Newsroom has caused as much conversation about creative and cultural tunnel vision as the HBO series' creator sparks himself. Aaron Sorkin was the brains behind TV's The West Wing, Sports Night, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip as well as screenwriter of The Social Network, Moneyball (with Steven Zaillian), and A Few Good Men (based on his play), among others. Wielding a sort of totalitarian imprimatur that marks everything he does, Sorkin is the subject of much adoration and derision, both of which have been heaped on a show with a distinctive voice that can be as long-winded, blustery, and full of idealistic intellect as most of its characters. The Newsroom is set in a sprawling simulacrum of the nerve center for a fictional 24-hour cable news network, with only a few segues into the boardrooms, bars, and apartments. The prime-time anchor is Will McAvoy, a vaguely Republican veteran reporter whose crisis of faith in the media and dedication to the fundamentals of journalism causes a meltdown in the premiere episode. Before he knows it, he's launched into a public diatribe about how America isn't number one, an event that ultimately drives him to form a new path for his show. Helping him craft a purer angle that's poised to cut through the noise, mundanity, and ennui in TV news is a new production team headed by producer MacKenzie McHale. She's an ex-lover who jilted Will, but who also happens to be a firebrand of passion, integrity, and battle-scarred honor. Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer as Will and MacKenzie carry much of the weight with their inherently personal skirmishes (hard feelings linger) and the speechifying that makes up most of the dialogue, usually dialed up to 10 in speed and volume. Will's arrogance is slightly tempered by MacKenzie's uprightness, but both of them represent clear archetypes in Sorkin's quest to carry his message through the medium. MacKenzie says her imperative is "speaking truth to stupid," which pretty well sums up Sorkin's attitude about the show's mission as well as his intention for his audience. The stridency flows from the top down, but the large cast includes plenty of other mouthpieces for the editorializing. All the politics and realistic newsiness is countered by the very public personal lives of the newsroom staff. Thomas Sadoski and John Gallagher Jr. play pit-bull producers with disdain for each other and a mutual attraction to Maggie (Alison Pill), an associate producer who plays ditzy and quick-witted at the same time. Dev Patel is a quietly likable presence on the research desk and Olivia Munn plays an on-air personality with multiple advanced degrees in economics, but a remarkable deficit in social skills. In the executive suite above them all is news director Charlie Skinner, brought to crafty, curmudgeonly, and authoritative life by Sam Waterston.

Sorkin told The New York Times he "thought it would be fun to write about a hyper-competent group of people," which he has certainly done. They're also just plain hyper; watching an episode can be like an adrenaline shot of sermonizing, sanctimony, sophistication, and jaw-dropping flights of fast-talking astuteness. Researching the show, Sorkin spent time embedded at MSNBC shadowing both Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews. He also dropped in on programs at Fox News and CNN that were the model for McAvoy and his Atlantis Broadcasting Network's show "News Night." The homework clearly informs The Newsroom's sense of verisimilitude, which is made even more realistic by the device of molding episodes about real news events of the recent past. The season unfolds from April 2010 to August 2011, so the action includes the newsroom's reporting on everything from the Gulf oil spill and the killing of Osama bin Laden to the teacher protest in Wisconsin and Arizona's controversial anti-illegal immigration bill. Personal politics enter the fray when the subject of the Koch brothers and the Citizens United decision come up, and there's a "News Night" uproar when the Fukushima nuclear crisis spills over into questions of ethics and personal responsibility. But for such a bunch of brilliant, zealous professionals there certainly is a lot of childish behavior, especially when it comes to everyone's love life. Biting social commentary dressed up as high-class entertainment sometimes dips into the soap opera-ish--which doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. A phone-hacking scandal that develops in the last episode will probably carry into the second season. It's also tantalizing to wonder what to expect when The Newsroom starts delving into the 2012 presidential election as seen through the lens of Aaron Sorkin's cutting pen and gift for putting lots of smart words into other people's mouths. --Ted Fry

Special Features

  • THE RUNDOWN: Creator and Executive Producer Aaron Sorkin along with Alan Poul (Executive Producer), Greg Mottola (Co-Executive Producer), Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, and Sam Waterston discuss in detail their experiences shooting the first season in this exclusive conversation.
  • MISSION CONTROL: A behind-the-scenes look at the state-of-the-art sets with the cast and crew.
  • AUDIO COMMENTARIES: Five audio commentaries with cast and crew including Aaron Sorkin, Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer and many more.

Product Details

  • Actors: Various
  • Directors: Various
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Box set, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital-Plus 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: June 11, 2013
  • Run Time: 725 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13,801 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0092QH902
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,309 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Newsroom: Season 1" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Much has already been said about the show's quality as a TV drama, the great acting and inspired writing. I want to focus on something else.

Having spent more than two decades at CNN Center in Atlanta, until two years ago, as a writer and producer, the show is a brilliant success in conveying what it feels like to be in a newsroom like that, especially when there is breaking news.

In particular, the episode with the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford was absolutely true to life. Another reviewer criticized the dilema the team felt as other networks were reporting that she was dead and they were under pressure from network executives not to fall behind on the story. At the climactic moment, the anchor Will McAvoy makes the call on air and offers only the information about the shooting: "Here's what we know so far..." Which, of course, we know to have been the right call.

The factual context is right. NPR did report that Gifford had been killed; CNN, among others, repeated the misinformation, albeit attributing the report to NPR.

I don't know exactly what happened around Congresswoman Gifford's shooting, it was on a Saturday and I was working M-F, but I was there in the CNN Headline News newsroom in a similar situation: we came within seconds of airing a false report that the first president Bush had died during a visit to Japan in 1992 (where he had taken ill the night before, throwing up on the Japanese Prime Minister).

How close?
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Format: DVD
I've been an Aaron Sorkin fan for a long time. His dialogue is brain candy for me: regardless of whether I agree with what he's saying, the eloquence and the rhythm are thrilling and addictive. I don't think you need to believe he's right in order to enjoy the show. That said, I usually do agree with him, and The Newsroom is no exception.

It's rare to turn on the news and get anything more than the cheap thrill of watching someone from the left fight it out with someone on the right. The anchors themselves take a passive role, and yet if they wanted to, they really could challenge the speakers, couldn't they? Force them to defend their statements with verifiable facts? And in so doing, help the viewers to evaluate the merits of the argument on each side?

The Newsroom is a pleasurable fantasy about what that might look like. And I can't help but think that the hostility the show has drawn (Google it; you'll find a lot) is mainly from people who find it easier to call Aaron Sorkin smug and sanctimonious than to admit that our national discourse is broken. Because if it is, then it needs to be fixed, and what if the only way of fixing it was to demand more facts, to think harder, to learn more? I just used several words that Americans are conditioned to hate. You want the country to go back to school for an hour every night? You intellectual, elitist snob.

Perhaps that's controversial. But I doubt that anyone who uses the word "intellectual" as a pejorative would be interested in watching this show. Like any Sorkin series, The Newsroom celebrates the power of intelligence, while reminding us that it's only as good as the heart that wields it. Sorkin's characters are inspiring less because they're smart than because they want so badly for the world to be a better place.
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Format: DVD
Brilliant, Briskly Intelligent Writing was the title for this review when this enormously successful series premiered in June 2012. For some reason Amazon did not make this available either on Video On Demand or in a place where reviews could be written. Now the first season is complete - having finished last night with one of the finest shows of the season. And with the soon to be released DVD set of the first year, we can finally discuss it. To start with, the following response was to the first opening show:

A new series launched on HBO with a star-spangled episode `We just decided to'. As conceived and written by Aaron Sorkin it is a timely, incredibly intelligently written show populated with some of our best seasoned actors as well as some very fine actors on the way up. This is the kind of television that reminds us that at one time the news programs informed us about current events and ran a continuing commentary on the development of events in this country and around the world in a manner that kept us alerted of why we as a nation needed to remain alert to both good and bad events, to celebrate when indicated and to fight back when injustices were occurring. This direction is indicated in the background imagery for the titles - running glimpses of the likes of Walter Cronkite, Edward R Murrow, Huntley/Brinkley etc who were responsible news anchors instead of the flippant celebrities more concerned with ratings of their show than the news we see today.

The first episode opens with popular news anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels who proves his acting chops here) being interviewed on a college campus and responds to a student question `Why is America the greatest country' by answering `We're not.
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