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The Newsroom: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review

newsroom-S1-blu-ray-coverU.S. Release

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), French DTS 5.1, Spanish DTS 2.0
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 6 (4 x Blu-ray + 2 x double-sided DVD)
  • Digital Copies: iTunes & UltraViolet
  • Run Time: 725 Mins.
  • Studio: HBO Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: June 11, 2013
  • List Price: $79.98

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(The below TheaterByte screen captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray Disc and losslessly compressed in the PNG format. There should be no loss of picture quality with this format. All screen captures should be regarded only as an approximation of the full capabilities of the Blu-ray format.

The Series

[Rating:4/5]

Newsroom-S1-BD_05

Aaron Sorkin’s (The West Wing; The Social Network) latest creation is this hour-long HBO drama, The Newsroom. Starring Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer amongst others, the series tackles our country’s recent political and social issues, like the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the rise of the Tea Party, and the 2010 mid-term elections head on. It’s funny, it’s apposite to today’s social order, and often brutally honest.

Jeff Daniels plays Will McAvoy, a top news anchor for the fictional news channel ACN, who’s lost his motivation to go for the real news, instead playing it safe and steering clear of controversy. That is until he does a political panel at a university and loses it, after a young political science major asks him why America is the greatest country in the world. This opening monologue that kicks off the series of McAvoy ranting at the young woman about how America has lost its edge is probably the strongest part of the entire season. It sets up the the remainder of a season that will see McAvoy’s ex-fiancé MaKenzie (Emily Mortimer) return to ACN to become the new producer of his show causing a lot of tension, sexual and otherwise. But she spurs Will on to once again become a real, hard-hitting journalist, not afraid of the tough questions and the controversial stories. It gets him into trouble with the network, the tabloids, and the Republican party, for his relentless maligning of the Tea Party, even though he’s a registered Republican.

The series is not without its faults, however. There are various subplots involving love triangles between the staff (John Gallagher Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski) and Sorkin seems incapable of writing female characters with real brains. MaKenzie, for instance, whose background is as a journalist in the field in the Middle Eastern hot zones, is a klutz who’s incapable of using a Blackberry without emailing the entire office intimate details about her love life with Will and can’t understand the stock market.

The production for The Newsroom, however, is faultless, evoking a moody, under pressure, game of high stakes media room, with high tech monitors, stressed out staff, and wonderful visuals. You really feel like you are in the moment, reliving all of these stories, which are based on real events, as they happened. It will be very interesting to see where they take this series in the second season.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Newsroom-S1-BD_01

The Newsroom is an original high definition production shot on the Arri Alexa with Angenieux Optimo lenses. It comes to Blu-ray with an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodement from HBO. The production manages to capture a very film-like quality in this high-def production, so much so that it almost looks like, perhaps, a layer of “grain” was added to the image as an effect, rather than the somewhat gritty appearance just being a natural occurrence of the video noise from the camera. That being said, this Blu-ray set is definitely above and beyond what the series looked like in its broadcasts with much better detail and flesh tones, and beautiful, stable shadow details. However, the grittiness does take away a tad from the pop of the image.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Newsroom-S1-BD_02

A simple and straightforward English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack is supplied. It’s front-heavy, dialogue-driven and limits activity in the surrounds to minimal ambience. The dialogue is clear and full, while the series’ score sounds natural and airy. There’s a slight bit of low end extension, but not much.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

Newsroom-S1-BD_03

Cast and crew commentaries make up the bulk of the supplements supplied, but there’s a good roundtable offered as well.

The supplements:

  • DVDs
  • UltraViolet & iTunes Digital Copy
  • Audio Commentaries:
    • Episode 1 “We Just Decided” with Aaron Sorkin (Creator/Executive Producer), Alan Poul (Executive Producer), and Greg Mottola (Co-Executive Producer/Director)
    • Episode 3 “The 112th Congress” with Aaron Sorkin (Creator/Executive Producer/Writer), Jeff Daniels (Will), and Sam Waterston (Charlie)
    • Episode 4 “Ill Try to Fix You” with Aaron Sorkin (Creator/Executive Producer/Writer), Emily Mortimer (MacKenzie) and Alan Poul (Executive Producer/Director)
    • Episode 6 “Bullies” with Jeff Daniels (Will), Olivia Munn (Sloan), and Alan Poul (Executive Producer)
  • Inside the Episodes (1.78:1; 1080p/24) Episodes 1-10
  • Deleted Scenes (1.78:1; 1080p/24)
  • Mission Control: A Behind the Scenes Look at the state-of-the-art sets with the cast and crew (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:05:17)
  • Roundtable: A look back at the first season with the cast and producers of The Newsroom, including series creator Aaron Sorkin. (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:25:30)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Newsroom-S1-BD_04

The Newsroom makes headlines with a rousing first season that is somewhat flawed, but still enjoyable and in the best tradition of Broadcast News and its ilk. A strong transfer to Blu-ray, a clued-in performance from Jeff Daniels, and topical scripts make it an interesting series episode to episode.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase The Newsroom: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

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[amazon-product]B00CW8DRU8[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product]B0092QHXZS[/amazon-product]

Purchase The Newsroom: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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