Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 3, 2015)
With its third season, HBO’s The Newsroom comes to an end. As occurred with Seasons One and Two, the series concentrates on the people and events within a fictional TV news studio. The Blu-ray set spreads all of Season Three’s six episodes across two discs. The plot synopses come straight from the Blu-ray menus.
Boston: “Will (Jeff Daniels), Mac (Emily Mortimer) and the newsroom err on the side of caution in reporting a breaking story in Boston.” When we last saw the Newsroom crew, they covered the 2012 election. As the title implies, “Boston” takes them to April 2013 and the bloodshed at the Boston Marathon.
A season premiere acts largely to set up themes/stories for the rest of the year, and “Boston” does so reasonably well. However, I think it becomes a bit scattershot, as it casts too broad a net. Hopefully it’ll tighten up these threads as the season progresses.
Run: “Will tries to protect Neal (Dev Patel); Reese’s (Chris Messina) half-siblings look to cash in on a hostile takeover gambit.” Season Two worked well because it focused so tightly on the election. Without such a unifying event, Season Three seems looser than I’d like. It’s still entertaining and fairly compelling but so far, S3 feels like a minor disappointment after S2. At least “Run” brings back Marcia Gay Harden, one of S2’s highlights.
Main Justice: “Will gets a surprise at the Correspondents’ Dinner; Sloan (Olivia Munn) and Don (Thomas Sadoski) try to keep their relationship a secret.” “Justice” shows S3’s strengths and weaknesses. On the negative side, the episode still seems scattershot, as it tries to pack in too many storylines. However, it always remains involving and entertaining, so it’s still a good program.
Contempt: “Will faces a contempt charge; Sloan and Mac try to prevent ACN from falling into Lucas’s (BJ Novak) hands.” Aaron Sorkin projects tend to be preachy and wear opinions on their sleeves, a trend that seemed especially apparent during S1 of Newsroom. That theme faded somewhat during S2 but it roars back in S3, which can be a bit of a problem. Characters stop what they’re doing to throw out monologues about various areas, and this seems more dominant than usual in “Contempt”. The show moves along various plot lines well enough to remain engaging, but I could live without so much of the speechifying.
Oh Shenandoah: “Charlie (Sam Waterston) capitulates to Pruit’s vision for ACN, while Sloan and Don are determined to undermine it.” With little time left in the season – and series – “Shenandoah” accelerates matters quite a bit. It takes place almost two months after the last show, so it demonstrates substantial changes. Those create some intrigue, as do a few interpersonal domains. “Shenandoah” isn’t a great episode, but it leads us toward the end pretty well.
Casting curiosity: Sarah Sutherland plays a college rape victim here. There’s nothing wrong with Sutherland, but her presence becomes a minor distraction, as she also appears on Veep. It just seems a little odd for a regular in one HBO series to pop up in another.
What Kind of Day Has It Been: “In the series finale, a colleague’s death leads Will and Mac to contemplate their past and future.” While I won’t divulge the identity of the dead character, I will say it shouldn’t come as a surprise. (It happens at the end of “Shenandoah” anyway.)
As a finale, “Day” seems lackluster. It does develop matters and advance material reasonably well, but it just comes across as a little too neat and tidy. I won’t call this a poor finish for the series, but it seems less memorable than I’d like. It’s just too sappy and cute for me.