Category Archives: mary tyler moore

The Newsroom

I love HBO. I think that they, along with the folks at Showtime, AMC, and Starz among others, just make the best television out there. Looking at ratings and award nominations, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that belief. I guess that’s why “The Newsroom” is such a hard pill for me to swallow.

I tried to watch the first season of “The Newsroom” when it aired. I just couldn’t get into it, and once the episodes started to pile up in the DVR, I gave up and resolved to catch up later. It’s hard to start watching a new show. Some things like “Dexter,” “Treme,” and “The Walking Dead” grabbed me immediately from the first moments. Others like “Rome,” “The Wire,” and “Homeland,” all of which I loved/love, took some time to warm up to. “The Newsroom” falls solidly in the latter category, but maybe without so much of the love part.

There’s a lot to like about “The Newsroom.” Jeff Daniels, in the lead as a on-his-way-out newscaster trying something new to stay relevant, is spectacularly selfish. He’s been given something few actors get – a platform on which to act over the top. His supporting cast is amongst one of the best ensembles in television. Dev Patel is someone to watch, and Alison Pill is the real star of the show, definitely watch her. Most of the performances are high caliber, a hallmark of HBO.

The show is a little bit Network, a little bit Broadcast News, with just a touch of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” as well. The problem I have lies behind the scenes, in its creator, Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin belongs to an era and style of television I particularly dislike. Much like David E. Kelley, Sorkin doesn’t just want to entertain audiences, he wants to teach, to preach, to ultimately force feed his opinions into the viewers, whether they like it or not.

Here, in “The Newsroom,” it gets so bad sometimes as though it literally feels as though characters are merely taking turns on an imaginary soapbox than actually having a conversation or debate. It always takes me out of the show, and sometimes it’s painful in its execution. Shame.

Except for that, “The Newsroom” is definitely worth watching, especially for Jeff Daniels, Alison Pill. Dev Patel, and also genre favorite, Oliva Munn. The Bin Laden episode made me cry, and that’s saying a lot. The show is very very good, despite its preachiness, but it is, after all, HBO. Check it out.

Spies and Victims

Three Days of the Condor ~ I’m watching this the day after hearing of Sydney Pollack’s passing and this is truly one of his better films. What strikes me immediately is how violent the flick is without actually showing the violence the way a current film would. My, how things have changed, and not for the better. Thinking about the movies that Pollack has directed Robert Redford in I really have to say that he brings out the best in the actor. I’ll have to remember to watch Havana again soon. This film though is excellent and highly recommended.

36 Hours ~ Another excellent but also probably sadly forgotten flick. James Garner, showing terrific acting chops rarely seen in his role as Jim Rockford, gives an amazing performance here as an American soldier on the eve of D-Day who is captured by the Nazis, and tricked into believing it’s six years later and the war is over – so they can discover the details of the invasion. Brilliant flick based on a short story by Roald Dahl.

Mary and Rhoda ~ A desperate shot at reviving the magic of the old “Mary Tyler Moore Show” two and a half decades later. Mary and Valerie Harper’s Rhoda meet up in New York and help each other deal with their college age daughters. This TV movie was so bad that even the actors in it wish it best forgotten.

Ulli Lommel’s Black Dahlia ~ This is just a sick sick sick mess. Writer/director Lommel (and it hurts to even give him the benefit of the doubt as those titles) is a hack and would be better off making snuff films. The only thing this has to do with the Black Dahlia is that the three sociopaths who ‘act’ as protagonists repeatedly reenact Elizabeth Short’s murder on victim after victim after victim. I hated this.