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‘The Newsroom’ just got good7/10/2013
Aaron Sorkin perfects the cable-news drama in its second season
I hated the first season of “The Newsroom,” Aaron Sorkin’s attempt to create a smart, fast-talking show about cable news. Sorkin’s journalism setting didn’t feel authentic, as his White House setting did in “The West Wing.” And Jeff Daniels made for a smug, unlikable hero as the anchor Will McAvoy.
After tinkering, however, Sorkin has finally gotten it right. The season two premiere (Sunday, 9 p.m., HBO) drops most of the cuteness and bogus speechifying. The episode is built around a believable incident in which Will’s unflattering comment about the Tea Party puts his network in hot water. As if that weren’t bad enough, he has aired an erroneous story that further threatens his career.
The intimate relationship between Will and his executive producer, Mackenzie (Emily Mortimer), is particularly well drawn. Their conversations are densely packed with in-jokes, topical references and esoteric allusions. These two like each other so much that they can be emotionally brutal and sometimes even physically brutal. After Will screws up on air, Mackenzie smacks him hard on the back of the head.
By the end of the episode, you feel like smacking Will, too. This season it will have to be an affectionate smack, rather than an exasperated one.
Saturday, 9 p.m. (BBC America)
This season premiere puts the “Twilight” movies to shame. The BBC’s “Being Human” follows similar tensions among humans, vampires and werewolves but with no trace of the starry-eyed silliness offered in “Twilight.” It achieves true pathos as a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost co-exist, each yearning to rejoin the human community. Cheeky British humor helps prevent “Twilight”-style sentimentality. Plus, the vampire, Hal (Damien Molony), is so suavely sexy he makes Robert Pattinson look like Justin Bieber.
In this week’s episode, Hal tries to stay away from blood, his hands shaking like an alcoholic’s. He’s a “human sympathizer,” you see, and he feels guilty for his previous descents into bloodlust. Meanwhile, the devil himself makes an appearance, signaling chaos to come. This dude, I’m pretty sure, is not a human sympathizer.
“Whose Line Is It Anyway?”
Tuesday, 7 p.m. (CW)
The improvisational comedy series has been around for years, but the season premiere feels as fresh as ever. Four quick-thinking comics come up with sketches on the spot, prompted by suggestions from the audience and congenial host Aisha Tyler. In one segment, they must think of “things you can say about your lunch but not about your girlfriend.” Gary Anthony Williams’ line:“These are some dryyy buns.”
“Whose Line Is It Anyway?” is witty, smart and surprising. Those aren’t words I’m used to typing about summer reality series.
Tuesday, 9 p.m. (USA)
This enjoyable series channels the ruthlessness of a cutthroat corporate law firm in Manhattan. Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) is the firm’s cocky star, playing power games to win at any cost. Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) is the brilliant associate who bluffs his way through cases without a law degree.
In the third season premiere, everybody demands loyalty from everybody else. And if that loyalty is not forthcoming, terrible things are liable to happen. Harvey tries to undermine partner Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), who simultaneously tries to undermine him. Mike tries to reconcile with Harvey, whom he has reluctantly betrayed after being blackmailed by Jessica. And believe me, betraying Harvey is a very bad thing. CV
Dean Robbins is a syndicated TV columnist from Madison, Wis. See more of his work at www.thedailypage.com.