The Telefile

TV on DVD: Tuesday, June 11, 2013

by Ethan Alter June 11, 2013 6:00 am
TV on DVD: Tuesday, June 11, 2013

This just in: The Newsroom stinks.

The Newsroom: The Complete First Season
The return of Aaron Sorkin to series television -- and on a pay cable channel like HBO no less -- was hyped as a major media event in the run-up to the premiere of The Newsroom last summer. But then people actually saw the show and... well, let's just say the bloom fell off the rose pretty quickly. While Sorkin's gift for gab is still very much in place, so too, unfortunately, is his self-righteousness, not to mention his ability to transform seemingly smart, professional women into total idiots. Jeff Daniels heads up The Newsroom's overqualified ensemble as cable news anchor Will McAvoy, whose struggling show is apparently the most important series to the incompetently run ACN network. That's why they bring in his ex-girlfriend and supposedly expert producer MacKenzie (Emily Mortimer) to reimagine the program, even though -- as written and performed by poor Mortimer -- one can't help but wonder how she's capable of getting herself dressed in the morning. Aiding Will and MacKenzie in their reporting on stories that are all three years out of date are the worst employees in all of cable news, from exceptionally unlikable associate producer Maggie (played by exceptionally likable actress Alison Pill), space cadet blogger Neal (Dev Patel) and flaky producer Jim (John Gallagher, Jr.). (That Olivia Munn's economist Sloan comes across as the most seasoned and empowered staff member tells you all you need to know.) We won't lie: The Newsroom is awful, but it's catnip for hatewatchers, especially now that Smash is no more. Look for Season 2 to begin on July 14.
Extras: Cast and crew audio commentaries on five episodes, deleted scenes, inside the episode featurettes, a behind-the-scenes documentary and a roundtable session with Sorkin, Daniels and Mortimer.
Click here to read our full recaps of Season 1 of The Newsroom
Click here to see our advice on how Aaron Sorking can make The Newsroom even worse

House of Cards: The Complete First Season
In case the prospect of binge-watching 13 episodes of Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright playing the Macbeth and Lady Macbeth of Washington D.C. couldn't tempt you to sign up for a Netflix account, Season 1 of House of Cards has made its physical media debut on DVD. Adapted from the British serial of the same name, Cards finds Spacey doing some of his best screen work in ages as Congressman Francis Underwood, who launches into a complicated scheme of revenge and sabotage after the incoming president passes him over the Secretary of State gig. As good as the American Beauty star is, the former Princess Bride is even better; although her character's motivations get a little wonky midway through the series -- along with the plotting, it must be said -- Wright aces every scene. (Kudos also have to go to supporting players Corey Stoll and Kate Mara, both of whom successfully navigate their way through some uneven storytelling.) Best watched in bulk in order to power through the mid-season lull, House of Cards doesn't reinvent television, but it does offer the opportunity to watch a great cast elevate solid material.
Extras: You get the same thing Netflix viewers got: zip.
Click here to read our original review of the first two episodes

Major Crimes: The Complete First Season
The Closer may be gone, but L.A.'s Major Crimes unit lives on, now under the watchful gaze of President Laura Roslin Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell), who has to win over a force still pining for departed Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson. But the masthead change hasn't affected the division's day-to-day activities, which still consists of solving various major crimes and misdemeanors, ranging from car crashes and gang shootings to men's room murders and the Israeli mob. Having subtracted Kyra Sedgwick's quirky personality and added McDonnell's stern professionalism, Major Crimes is more standard procedural fare than its predecessor, but the fanbase has apparently stuck around. An expanded Season 2 -- boasting 19 episodes instead of a mere 10 -- kicked off on June 10.
Extras: A gag reel, deleted scenes and four featurettes.

The Wedding Band: The Complete First Season
A one-season wonder, Brian Austin Green's musical comedy series for TBS was never amazing television, but it had a goofy charm that made it an eminently watchable guilty pleasure. Mr. Megan Fox starred as the frontman for a wedding-friendly music group that also consisted of Harold Perrineau on bass, Peter Cambor on guitar and Derek Miller on drums. In between crooning "golden oldies" at weddings, the quartet wrestle with their own personal and professional dramas... storylines that are all a lot less fun than the cheesy wedding stuff. Is its departure a tragedy? No, but it does rob our summer TV line-up of one breezy jam session.
Extras: Two behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Also on DVD:
It's a USA-palooza as three of the network's shows release their most recent season on DVD, including Burn Notice: The Complete Sixth Season, the defunct Fairly Legal: Season 2 and Necessary Roughness: Season 2. Meanwhile, TNT's buddy procedural drama Rizzoli & Isles: The Complete Third Season scores a release prior to its return on June 25.

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