Watching The Newsroom (Again)Complications Ensue
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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Lisa and I cracked open THE NEWSROOM again. For our American readers, it's a 2004 CBC comedy series set behind the cameras at a news show. Creator Ken Finkleman plays George Findlay, the producer. He is smart, self-serving, self-aggrandizing, slightly racist, and cowardly when the stuff hits the fan. And he is very, very funny. But he is given a run for his money by Peter Keleghan, as the pompous, extremely stupid anchor, Jim Walcott.

So far, so THE OFFICE. But the humor feels dryer and cleverer, less in-your-face, more CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM. You'll think a conversation is a throwaway, just there for humor and character, until it turns out to be a setup for the ultimate payoff in the last moments of the show.

Hilarious. Check it out, if you haven't already.

(THE NEWSROOM aired first in 1996, in an earlier incarnation. Canadian readers, fill me in: did the first run have the same style? In which case it was ahead of its time.)


Yes, the first run of The Newsroom was similar in style; the main difference was some of the cast (Tanya Allen and Jeremy Hotz) -- and definitely ahead of its time. Oh, and there was a three-episode homage to/meditation on/satire of Fellini about a possible meltdown at the Pickering nuclear plant.

When people wrote about The Newsroom then, it was compared to Larry Sanders more than anything else, although they aren't very similar in style at all -- I think it was mainly because they were both satires of TV.

When it first aired, Monday evenings, The Newsroom was on just after the original-cast This Hour Has 22 Minutes. It felt very postmodern.

By Blogger Unknown, at 9:18 AM  

Yes, "The Newsroom" was a great show. After the first series came to an end, Finkleman brought back George Findlay in a mini-series called "More Tears". At the end of this comment, I've attached a link to a review of it that appeared in the New York Times. As crazy as I am for "The Newsroom", I think "More Tears" is greater (because amidst the humor it's also a bit darker). But why oh why won't Finkleman release "More Tears" on DVD? Fortunately, I managed to tape it when PBS aired it (only twice!) in 1999.

Here's the NYT link:

By Blogger Barry Lyons, at 1:18 PM  

3 Seasons, plus "Escape From ..." -- Ken Finkleman is without peer, excepting perhaps Paul Abbott (Shameless), Larry David, and Larry Sanders. Glad I don't exactly do what these guys do, because you can't even aspire to their level (not that there's anything wrong with that). Took awhile to get over hopeless crush on Karen Hines, too.

By Blogger dkbrklyn, at 5:02 PM  

Funny, I think it's very reminiscent of Larry Sanders -- but also of the kind of work Albert Brooks did with "Real Life."

That being said, Finkleman did actually do one series that preceded The Newsroom called "Married Life." It started Karen Hines too and it was -- way more than The Newsroom, even -- ahead of its time, anticipating many of the end results of what Reality TV would become.

Oh, and as for that first season of the Newsroom -- there's one more key cast member who was different. Besides Jeremy Hotz, the other write hand man to George Findlay was played by Canada's comedy treasure, Mark Farrell -- pre Corner Gas and 22!

By Blogger DMc, at 5:31 PM  

I missed this show somehow, perhaps because I was living in the States when it aired. What a treat to find it now. I can't believe how ahead of its time it was.

By Blogger Unknown, at 9:43 PM  

Hey Denis-
Nice catch, Real Life. And thanks for the reminder to check for Married Life on DVD -- still don't see it out there.

And I meant to say "Gary Shandling" above. Weird, eh?

By Blogger dkbrklyn, at 9:51 PM  

Plenty of The Newsroom on YouTube. Intelligent and forward-looking for TV comedy, yes, but isn't the acting a little, er, underripe? Maybe that's how it looks with 10 years' hindsight.

By Blogger blogward, at 4:18 AM  

yeah I think married life was really ahead of its time especially in the fourth episode, or last half hour of the two hour movie, where the characters played by Hotz and myself were hired to live with the family and pitch them story-lines. Ken hired us in the Newsroom to get the same dynamic. (And yeah I guess you could say my acting was a little underripe. though I've never, ever claimed to be a good actor) and still don't.

By Blogger Mef, at 4:01 PM  

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