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HBO

SERIES INFO

Created By:
Aaron Sorkin
Cast:
Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Sam Waterston
Writing Credits:
Various

MPAA:
Rated NR

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS 2.0
French DTS 5.1
Castillian DTS 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Castillian
Danish
Finnish
Norwegian
Swedish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Castillian

Runtime: 360 min.
Price: $49.98
Release Date: 6/16/15

Bonus:
• Audio Commentaries for One Episode
• “Inside the Episode” Featurettes


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Newsroom: The Complete Third Season [Blu-Ray] (2014)

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.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C-

The Newsroom appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The series’ visuals usually looked quite good.

The shows offered solid clarity; only a smidgen of softness materialized, so definition was usually positive. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws failed to mar the presentation.

The series opted for a subdued palette with a moderate teal tint. Within those parameters, the colors seemed fine. Blacks were pretty deep and tight, while shadows appeared positive, with only a little opacity on occasion. Overall, the shows provided appealing visuals.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack suited the shows but won't win any awards. The soundstage appeared nicely broad at the appropriate times and could be moderately engulfing on occasion. It's a talky little series, so the focus was mainly up front, but the audio expanded when necessary. This occurred mostly via gentle environmental ambience, so the surrounds didn’t have a lot to do. Occasional thunder added the most pep and that was about it. That said, the imaging made sense for the series.

Sound quality seemed fine. Dialogue always appeared crisp and natural, and I had no trouble understanding it. The low-key music that acted as the score was warm and distinctive. Effects also seemed realistic and adequate for the tasks at hand. Newsroom won't be anyone's demo track, but the mix worked well for the series.

We get one audio commentary here. This accompanies “What Kind of Day Has It Been” and features creator/executive producer/writer Aaron Sorkin and executive producer/director Alan Poul. They discuss story/character areas, cast and performances, music, editing, sets and locations, and related topics.

While the commentary offers a mix of good details, I don’t think it wraps up the season – or series – especially well. I hoped for more of a valedictory look back on Newsroom with thoughts about its entire run, but that doesn’t really occur. It’s still a useful chat but it lacks the scope I wanted from it.

We find Inside the Episode featurettes for all the season’s episodes: “Boston” (2:18), “Run” (3:20), “Main Justice” (2:49), “Contempt” (3:06), “Oh Shenandoah” (5:16) and “What Kind of Day Has It Been” (4:16). Across these, Sorkin discusses various character/story elements and other aspects of the shows. These throw in some good thoughts, though they do tend to act as recaps more than anything else.

Given that the series’ second year improved on its first, I hoped Season Three of The Newsroom would continue that upward trend. It doesn’t and S3 works less well than its predecessor, but it includes enough drama to deliver a decent finish to the series. The Blu-ray offers good picture and audio but skimps on supplements. While this isn’t a great finish to The Newsroom, it’s an enjoyable enough farewell.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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