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If you have any desire to see important TV, pun intended, take a gander at this 6 episode comedy series(available on VHS & PBS) produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 'The Corp.' let writer/director Ken Finkleman(escaped from HOLLYWOOD hackdom) do whatever he wanted and it shows in a TV show that knows no bounds in its behind the scenes look at a Toronto TV Newsroom. Smashingly smart, searingly irreverant, better than Larry Sanders at giving you the inside scoop on the crap that makes (most) TV what it is. Lock up your sacred cows. Ken's knives are sharp and long. Also see 'More Tears'(1998) also by CBC and Finkleman.
The deadpan quasidocumentary feel of this series puts it solidly in an evolutionary chain from Canadian sketch comedy, perhaps most obvious among the SCTV and other Second City folk who've done so much that's been visible in the States, to such latter-day offerings as THE OFFICE, in its original UK form and US remake. The interplay of dialog is often as quick as anything I've seen in screwball or drawing room comedy in any medium, yet usually the build toward absurdity is held deftly in check till a rich payoff. The new season, offered to US television in 1995, may seem a bit familiar as a result of the first season's influence, and the first sequel project, MORE TEARS, was by intention somewhat more self-indulgent (parodically...and simultaneously not...Fellini-esquire), but all are well worth seeing, particularly this first season.
I would love to see more comedies out of Canada. Most of today's American comedies are downright dumbed down to the audience of the young and the restless. Anyway, I was surprised that I actually enjoyed watching this show mixed in with the British comedies on NJN. I love Canada. I was watching the episode which was well-written about pretty boy anchorman who enjoys doing stories on pets in Kabul. I love his school teacher who said that he had a great voice and looked great enough to be doing something that wouldn't require too much thinking or intelligence. Anyway, this anchorman gets kidnapped while on assignment. The ransom was 2 million American dollars not Canadian but it was brought down to 1700 Canadian dollars because the reporter captured wasn't anybody worth keeping. Of course, his boss was on the shortlist for an Order of Canada. If you don't know what the Order of Canada is, it's like the Order of the British Empire or Order of Australia with no knights or dames. Well the boss was on the shortlist until his anchorman gets kidnapped and he gets bumped. By the time the shortlist comes out after Jim Walcott's unflattering tapes of his past surface and he gets bumped off. Who gets on the list is the substitute female anchor. It's all political but it shouldn't be in the Order of Canada. Oh well, God Bless Canada.
"The Newsroom" is honestly one of the best-made television shows I've ever
seen. Brilliant writing; solid acting; dialogue that flowed more
realistically than you'll ever see. And the stinging commentary on office
politics and the cut-throat portrayal of the media was dead on. This
a show about nothing. There was no audience. There was no laugh track. It
didn't need any of these. It tackled real issues in the news, but gave you
the insiders look. The show takes place in Toronto, Canada at a local news
station. In one scene, the crew gets word of a train accident in the Congo
river. Instead of going with the big local story, they go with the
unrelatable, yet more interesting train wreck halfway across the world. In
trying to somehow relate it to Canada, they check to see if any Canadians
were on board.
Mark: We haven't even confirmed this Canadian. Jeremy: Well, we're hoping there's a Canadian dead. George: We're hoping he's dead.
Just an example of what goes on behind the scenes. Makes the network executives of Fox look like saints.
People have compared "The Newsroom" to Garry Shandling's "The Larry Sanders Show." Both similar; both excellent shows, "Sanders" coming before `the Newsroom.` But the Newsroom was done so much better in every way, that's there can be no comparison.
Like I said, one of my favorite shows of all time. Do yourself a favor and check your local PBS stations to see if they're playing "The Newsroom." Or, in Canada, beg the CBC to show some re-runs.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sid Robinovitch's theme song for The Newsroom is one of the best ever,
and the theme (instrumental) captured the mood and underlying solemnity
of a satirical series.
The Newsroom was unapologetically hard-edged for sure, and it was critically acclaimed. I'm a big fan of The Newsroom although the characters weren't exactly lovable.
One scene really disturbed me. It was when George Findlay, the executive producer, had an incredibly offensive discussion with a Canadian news anchor of Chinese descent. Interesting, when I saw an interview with the actor Ken Finkleman (who also created The Newsroom) he felt uncomfortable with performing the scene. He felt uncomfortable??!!! What about the poor Chinese actor who no doubt felt humiliated having to earn a Canadian dollar to be on screen?
I saw this years ago, so I'm reviewing this based on my response in the
This harsh satire of the news industry was pointed, dark and very, very funny. I don't remember too many details, but I remember that it was absolutely brilliant.
And then came the last episodes, in which the main character snaps. And they were awful. What had been a straight ahead comedy suddenly, inexplicably turned into an obvious tribute to/ripoff of Frederico Fellini. It was clear that series creator Finkleman, like so many humorists, felt humor wasn't enough and that he had to prove himself as an artist. And the result was tedious, pretentious and a complete misfit with the rest of the series.
But it's still worth watching all the episodes up until that point. It's just a shame Finkleman couldn't have been satisfied making a really funny satire of television news.
This show was excellent and had me until the completely unnecessary and
bizarre 8 and a half homage (the three episodes called the meltdown).
The entire purpose of which seemed to be to allow finkelman to pretend
to be the main character from the movie. Which was hopelessly
self-indulgent ("which was the point! get it?!") and devoid of anything
interesting to say.
Before that though the show lays the blueprint for one camera office politics satire which both the British and American Office have utilized (if not totally ripped off). The show features some of the best writing I've ever seen on Television, incredibly sophisticated and never broad, it still manages to be hilarious.
8.5 out of 10 (get it?)
The first time I attempted to watch "The Newsroom" I tuned out, bored. The second attempt was not only better, but I became hopelessly enslaved and devoted to the series which I have watched over and over, for therapy, a hedge against loneliness, and other times when I just want to be a part of Finkleman's wacky world. I love the man. He can do no wrong for me. For many of the cast it had to have been the "best of times" to have been part of this magnificent production. Along with Ken's "More Tears", and Dennis Potter's "Singing Detective" I know of nothing finer ever done on TV, and I could absolutely kill myself for not being able to write a more fitting tribute to this great artist.
Wit, an insider's view of the TV system, and great writing, directing, and performances collide to give auidences an absolutly BRILLIANT show that should be put out on DVD, already! Don't miss "Meltdown", the 3 episode tribute to Fellini's 8 1/2.
A superb and biting satire of the politics of a television newsroom. Ken Finkleman seems to have been born to play the role of the newsroom head and the supporting cast also play the roles convincingly.
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