Review: The Newsroom “I’ll Try to Fix You”

Ringing in the New Year with Bigfoot! That’s the start of this week’s episode of The Newsroom. This episode will make you laugh, and possibly make you cry in this sex scandal filled montage aptly titled for a culmination in a galvanizing moment that instills the fervor within the Newsroom.There are two overarching themes throughout this installment of The Newsroom. They are led by Neal (Dev Patel) and Will (Jeff Daniels), respectively, and like Don (Thomas Sadoski) says: It’s time to start the New Years with a bang!

Bigfoot is real; just ask Neal Sampat. Throughout the entirety of the episode he desperately tries to get Will, and the other members of the Newsroom to believe in the man, myth, legend, that is Bigfoot. Going so far as to create an entire presentation to illustrate the information available on the apex predator; Neal finds this task of convincing Will to do a story on this lovable oaf is harder than he thought.

That’s not the only hard thing on this episode, and to Will’s detriment a flurry of women with whom he’s dated have been seen splashing drinks into his face and forcing stories about him to appear on page six of the daily news. Problem after problem and mishap after mishap riddle Will’s personal life full of meaningless holes that he can’t seem to fill without the obvious necessity of the lack of an intimate Mac (Emily Mortimer) in his life. Although he is the star, this isn’t the only love story that’s taking place. There’s also a nicely timed piece concerning Maggie (Alison Pill), Don, and Jim (John Gallagher, Jr.).

It begins on New Year’s Eve, like all train wrecks do, with Don forcing Maggie’s roommate to go out with Jim. Everything boils down to a lie, of course, and when Maggie finds out Jim lied to her about spending the night with her roommate; tensions flare on an early Saturday morning where Jim is force to use his position to take control and order her into a timeout of sorts after he apologizes for his betrayal of her trust.

With the revelation between Jim and Maggie and Will’s negative status on the cover of tabloids coming to a head; Charlie (Sam Waterston) realizes the key to all of their problems. That key was that ACN owns that tabloid, and the owner of ACN is trying to deliver on her promise to fire Will if he doesn’t cool off on his reports on her Tea Party friends. Just as things seemingly couldn’t get worse; they do, but they all come together to produce a broadcast of brilliance on reporting the near fatal shooting of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords on Saturday, January 8, 2011.

Rating: 4.8/5

Don’t miss The Newsroom Sundays at 10pm on HBO

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Review: The Newsroom “The 112th Congress”

Spanning six months, this episode delivers astute political criticism towards the Tea Party and news that ceases to be informative to the modern voter. This shows seeks to explain, or at least try to, the decisions of voters and how educated they truly were in the 2010 American election. It begins with the most simply complex thing possible: An apology.

Aaron Sorkin delivers another masterpiece in this; the third episode of a series that is making leaps and bounds in an attack on the politics that corrupt own daily news broadcasts. This idea that is so eloquently delivered throughout the broadcasts of News Night is that the facts are what matters and not the spin on stories that are of little concern.  This point is made clearly as we begin talking about the “Times Square Bomber” which, on News Night got fairly little coverage due to the fact that the system actually worked in capturing the bomber while little consideration was given to the actual person that reported the bombing, an immigrant from Senegal, who turns out to be Muslim.

This show takes big risks by attacking certain political parties, but does so brilliantly in exposing the flaws in not just one party, but all parties as everything is fair game in the political arena. This does however cause great distress to the network which causes another main focal point of the episode in a time skipping meeting involving Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston) and the CEO of Atlantis World Media, the parent company of ACN, Leona Lansing (Jane Fonda). This episode, and the conspiring events, is what led to this eventual meeting that had taken place after these six expedited months of newscasts which all culminated with the coverage of Election Night 2010.

Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy is brilliant in his delivery of information and retaliation against political extremists, but also towards MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) as he brings date after date into the Newsroom to more than entice McHale into retaliating with her own solution–a secret boyfriend–which is discovered by Will during the Election Night newscast which sends his tripping over his own feet on the way back to his desk in a troublesome disbelief, but with everything it did to him it didn’t distract him from his job: delivering the facts. This isn’t the only love-line on this show; as time goes on and the multiple break-ups and get-back-togethers of Maggie (Alison Pill) and Don (Thomas Sadoski) influence his actions, Jim (John Gallagher, Jr.) tries to keep his cool long enough to ask Maggie out, but every single time he is shot down before he can take off with the appearance of Don to sweep Maggie away before he can even arrive.

This episode is a fantastic piece of political examination from the previous election. I would highly recommend you start watching from the beginning as this is still a new series, and it gives you insight into facts that you may have not known had you been otherwise misinformed.  I have to give this episode a 4.6/5. Don’t miss an episode on HBO Sunday nights and 10!

Review:True Blood “Let’s Boot and Rally”

Being caught about to screw a Werewolf is one thing, throwing up on his shoes is another. This is where we find out protagonists this week in the HBO series True Blood. After being captured and released by The Authority for the sole purpose of hunting down and killing the malicious Vampyr; Russel Edgington (Denis O’Hare)… again. Having escaped from his cement burial with the help from an unknown woman from The Authority. This episode, however, is probably the least bloody episode I’ve seen to date.

Starting with Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) finding Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Alcide (Joe Manganiello) about to get busy, this episode is more of a preparation for next week rather than a true story line of its own. If there is a story line here, it’s Sam (Sam Trammell) finding his support group–excluding Luna (Janina Gavankar)–shot dead at their usual meeting spot. After alerting the police, who are having supernatural problems themselves, Sam decides it’s best to warn Luna, but as he’s leaving her house gunshots ring and both of the remaining shifters in the cast are wounded and presumed dead on Luna’s front lawn with her daughter shifting into her wolf form to escape unharmed.

All the while this is happening Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) is struggling to come to terms with the evil inside of him that he absorbed from his recently murdered boyfriend Jesus (Kevin Alejandro). Lafayette’s visions of the demonic face and Jesus’ severed head riddle his conscious moments. This, however, is a severely under-told part of the story this week.

Another significant turn in “Let’s Boot and Rally” is the acceptance of Tara (Rutina Wesley) being a Vampyr. She and Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) hashed out their problems as any child and parent would while getting Tara to realize her new place as a Vampyr. This new life doesn’t come without costs, however, and thus a friend finds her and begins to relate and express concern. This friend is non-other than Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll), who had gone through the same things after being turned by Bill in the first season. Still with feelings for Hoyt (Jim Parrack), Jessica–now trying to move on–ends this latest episode in finding Tara feeding on him in the stall next door.

I would say the true main story for this episode would have to be the one involving Terry (Todd Lowe) and war-buddy Patrick (Scott Foley) as they go to uncover the fire starter that had killed the other men in their previous unit. They find, to their dismay, a crazed friend who was convinced that it was a demon all along from a cruse long ago before they all left the Corps. Little did they know, the demon is real!

This episode receives a 4.3/5

If you haven’t seen it yet tune in to HBO Sundays at 9!

Advanced Review: NCAA Football 13

13 is a special number this year. 13; the namesake of this year’s NCAA Football, but also 13 is the number of uniforms that have been digitized for the Oregon Ducks and their high flying offense! That’s right, with 13 different pre-set uniforms for the Ducks they lead their way into a ranked four position atop the preseason charts in NCAA 13. That’s not all that’s changed with this newest edition of the long-standing franchise. There have been various tweaks, pokes, and prods to this years graphics and animations, but it comes also with the addition of a new mode: Heisman Challenge.

This new Heisman Challenge mode lets you step into the shoes of ten different Heisman winners and play as them–on your favorite team–for a whole season to try and best their own candidacy for the Heisman trophy. Armed with a new reaction time feature–in Heisman Challenge and Road to Glory modes–you can set out on your conquest with a plethora of new throwing and catching animations as well as a slightly overhauled control scheme. Now, like never before, you can see your rise to become a College Football Legend impeded by new difficulty settings in Road to Glory.

This additions do not come without consequences. In making the game better and more realistic, now like never before, you actually must learn to play defense. It’s not all about the high powered offenses and scoring 100 points a game. You need to be aware of the offenses and make the receivers be distracted and run the wrong routes if you are to succeed in stopping your opponent with ruthless efficiency. This also makes running the offense harder and more crucial to have good decision-making skills. If you don’t set before you throw you have a large chance to throw it away or–even worse–an interception.

Graphically there isn’t much to differ from last years, or at least not enough to warrant a buy on graphics alone. There are some obvious lighting improvements, and of course there is the addition of new game day traditions from some schools that were snubbed last year. The rosters are still varied enough to have most of the key players on your team have the right stats and numbers from real life, of course EA would never admit to copying people, but they’re there. With a playoff being instated in 2014 this may be one of the last times you’ll get to see the BCS Bowls in their entirety in a video game. Last, but not least, the majority of your favorite features have returned such as the Mascot Mash Up, Online and Offline Dynasties, and Road to Glory. The only reason to really buy this game is the new Heisman Challenge mode, and of course the new rosters and team uniforms. I’ll leave the decision up to you if it’s worth the buy, but I rate this game a solid 3.9/5.

In NCAA 13, on both sides of the ball, you will be tested more than ever before as blitz’s rain down upon you and short, accurate, throws rules the day. Running the ball is essential and turnovers come at a high cost. In order to get the true experience of NCAA 13, and to fill the void of a summer without College Football, you can pick it up on store shelves on July 10th. Until then I’ll keep your seat warm and Win the Day.

Review: The Newsroom “News Night 2.0”

Is this information we need in the voting booth? Is this the best possible form of the argument? Is the story in historical context? Are there really two sides to this story? These are the new rules introduced in the latest episode of The Newsroom. This episode begins on what would seem to be the established order of events in each episode. First; the preparation. Starting out we find our newly formed newsroom in a meeting to lay out the allocated minutes per segment of the News Night broadcast. The aptly dubbed meeting of News Night 2.0 claims the title of this episode, although the real story of this episode is; the email.

Starting their meeting with a note from the tech support, the staff finds out a new format for sending emails to individuals and to the whole staff–which is used throughout the episode to a fault to release personal information between MacKenzie (Emily Mortimer) and Will (Jeff Daniels)–concerning their break-up. The ensuing drama occurs as a fight about who should be broadcast on the segments, and who will replace a proponent of the Support our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act–which requires immigrants to carry alien registration documents at all times, requires that state law enforcement officers attempt to determine an individual’s immigration status during a “lawful stop, detention or arrest”, or during a “lawful contact” not specific to any activity when there is reasonable suspicion that the individual is an illegal immigrant–that Maggie (Alison Pill) had lost during a phone call. With tensions on the rise and an overall resignation between Will and MacKenzie about the state of this night’s show their problems were magnified across the whole office when an email was mistakenly sent that described why–in fact–their relationship ended and was, again, mistakenly sent out to all of corporate which amounts to over 100,000 people.

There was a bright side to this episode, however, which introduces a new member of the main cast in Sloan Sabbith played by the taunting Olivia Munn of whom the job of hosting a five minute segment during News Night was offered by MacKenzie due to Sloan’s looks and personality. She made a point about being educated with a degree in Economics from Duke University in response to a comment about gathering an audience to watch her legs. Of course, in the end, she understood that her brain wasn’t the only part of the show that had to be exploited to attract viewers. All in all it was a very solid episode to complement the rush of the previous one. With some time to get somewhat established; the staff still found a way to screw up, but not without a serious warning from Senior Producer, Jim Harper (John Gallagher, Jr.). He greatly emphasized the need for this show to prosper, or he would get “very unhappy.”

In my opinion this show gets better and better every week as it tackles the real life issues that had struck the United States over the recent past. Each week I wonder what will be next, and each week I find myself enthralled with the politics–be it in house or on show opinions–and stunned by the beauty of the female leads who manage to put their brains before their looks to get ahead in the workplace.

For this episode I give it a 4.3/5

Catch The Newsroom on HBO, Sunday nights at 10!

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Better Late Than Never: Strike Back: Project Dawn

Kicking off this new series of reviews (Better Late Than Never) I’m starting with the latest season of Strike Back–a British-American television series newly hosted by Cinemax which pits Section 20–a covert branch of the British MI6–against a global terrorist known only as Latif (Jimi Mistry).

The Season Two cover of the Strike Back Blu-Ray.

This season starts with Section 20 on the tail of the notorious Latif, and their captured undercover operative John Porter (Richard Armitage), in a race against time to save their comrade. In their quest they enlist Porter’s former partner, and former Delta Force Operator, Damian Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) to aide the ex-Special Boat Service (SBS) Sergeant Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) and Captain Kate Marshall (Eva Birthistle) in finding and identifying Latif after their original mission concludes in failure after the execution of Porter over a live video feed. With a wish for revenge and a need to save the world from the terror of Latif and his mysterious Project Dawn; Section 20 with Colonel Eleanor Grant–played by the ball busting Amanda Mealing–scour the world in exotic locals such as India, South Africa, Kosovo, Chechnya, and Budapest, Hungary.

This season is remarkably short for all of the action-packed power and performance that enthralls you despite the moderately shallow dialogue. Violence isn’t the only thing this show delivers as one of the leading men, Damian Scott, is a roving sex addict to the mimicking of an American James Bond. However, in the ten episode season they do manage to pack a clearly centralized storyline into the realm of spies and international intrigue.

Their mission does not come without costs. During the course of events they lose a handful of agents including Captain Marshall, but overall the plethora of terrorists that the two ex-special forces men dispatch are without equal and are almost out of the realm of possibility if it were not from the excellent use of real life tactics and maneuvers. The character of Scott was obviously cast to be a daring and careless rogue to the tune of a Han Solo or John Rambo. Often rushing into situations without careful thinking has cased more than a few problems for his counterpart in Stonebridge, but the Sergeant’s calm and cool demeanor has allowed him to swoop in and save the day multiple times, often in the same episode!

On the other end of the radio are the intel and analysis wing of Section 20. Starting with the Colonel’s second in command–Major Oliver Sinclair (Rhashan Stone) and going down to Sergeant Julia Richmond (Michelle Lukes)–is an integral part of the show’s screen time. Code-breaking, satellite surveillance, and identifying targets are just a few of the responsibilities tasked to this marvelous secret agency. Suspicion and treachery lie in the ranks of Section 20 and insubordination came to a head before being easily dealt with in what seemed to be a quick fix for a problem that could’ve lasted for another season.

If asked for one word to describe this season of Strike Back; I would have to use: Rushed. This show has the promise, but not the budget to last a season that’s on par with most basic cable television shows, and even being on a premium cable network can’t help it enough to last for too much longer in an American market. That is a sad point indeed as I feel that its generally exaggerated characters are a breath of fresh air to all of the stoic seriousness of series such as 24 and even Burn Notice. In my opinion, in order to improve the ratings and viewers, is to move it to a different time slot for Spartacus and add more than ten episodes to a season. This show has all the potential to be a great spy/military thriller, but seemingly little opportunity to prosper.

Rating: 3.8/5

Stay tuned to Cinemax on 17 August 2012 for the continuation of Strike Back in Strike Back: Vengeance (Also known as Season 3 in US)!

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I hope that you enjoyed this article; feel free to leave comments of your thoughts below and remember to like the post, follow the blog and our twitter (@TheNerdNexus) for further updates.