Anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) and his News Night staff would rather get it right than get it first - at least when a big story is breaking. But when they are off deadline, they're not nearly as efficient sorting out their relationships in The Newsroom on HBO.
They strive to make Atlantis Cable News a beacon of journalistic integrity in a world where most other organizations have tossed it aside in a tabloid-fueled scramble for ratings. McAvoy himself had joined that crowd and relished his own popularity, but changes direction after a public meltdown. He also gets a new no-nonsense executive producer in MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) - an ex-lover who broke his heart - who can wring the best out of him and the rest of the gung-ho staff.
The show, which was created by Aaron Sorkin (Sports Night and the Emmy-winning The West Wing), is set in the recent past, which allows them to react to real news events as they unfold. Instead of creating fictitious news stories, episodes are built around such things as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the killing of Osama bin Laden, the nuclear meltdown in Japan and the shooting of Gabby Giffords. Viewers know more about what's going on than the characters do.
The Newsroom returns for a second season July 14, and two stories the staff will be grappling with are the 2012 election and Occupy Wall Street. But, in the meantime, The Newsroom: The Complete First Season (2012, HBO, not rated, $60; Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy, $80) is available for anyone who wants to introduce themselves to the show or brush up on the lingering storylines before the new episodes begin. Bonus features include a roundtable discussion of the show with Sorkin, Daniels and others from the cast and crew, a behind-the-scenes look at the sets, audio commentaries and deleted scenes.
At the start of the season, not everybody is happy with the new McAvoy, who has gone from bland to controversial almost overnight. He soon becomes the target of the kind of tabloid reporting he disdains. While he is supported wholeheartedly by cantankerous news division head Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston), parent company owner Leona Lansing (Jane Fonda) and her son and network president Reese Lansing don't like it at all. Not only do the show's ratings drop slightly, but Leona is worried that some of his pronouncements could affect business pending before Congress.
McAvoy and McHale also have to work through their feelings for each other, something they share in common with others in the ensemble cast.
Associate producer Maggie Jordan (Alison Pill) and News Night's former executive producer Don Keefer (Thomas Sadoski) are lovers that don't seem quite right for each other. Meanwhile, she shares a mutual attraction with Jim Harper, (John Gallagher Jr.), who is also a producer. Then there's Sloan Sabbith (Olivia Munn), the brilliant, beautiful News Night financial reporter who is prone to socially awkward moments. And finally, there's Neelamani "Neal" Sampat (Dev Patel), McAvoy's blogger and researcher, who in his spare time, tries to prove the existence of Bigfoot.