The Newsroom: Seasons One and Two

George Findlay is, without a doubt, the most loathsome person ever to star in a prime-time sitcom. As the news director for the CBC's Toronto broadcast, he proves singularly uninterested in actual news — better to worry about his German car, his parking space and his pathological hatred of cranberry muffins. He will do absolutely anything to get his way, tune out what little dissent is left in the office and treat women and minorities like sex objects and moral nuisances, respectively. And he goes a long way towards justifying the Toronto Star's pull quote that The Newsroom is "the best thing Canadian series TV has offered. Ever." The show's comedy of embarrassment and ethical bankruptcy is at once convulsively funny and extremely poignant. Buried in its tales of Findlay (creator/writer Ken Finkleman), cretinous anchor Jim Walcott (Peter Keleghan) and the various yes men, sycophants and interns who orbit around them is a vision of the news as a secondary matter to getting ratings and scaring the audience stupid. But there are no heavy-handed didactics, just a bunch of people saying the most appalling things without thinking about them and wondering what kind of chick action Noam Chomsky gets. Two seasons of cruel hilarity are now collected on DVD, but they're not without fault: Finkleman often goes too far for a classy reference (such as a three-part Fellini pastiche that goes nowhere) and guest spots by everyone from David Cronenberg to Linda McQuaig misfire as often as they work. But when Findlay is in his element, spinning cowardly excuses and doing anything to avoid responsibility, it makes you oh so proud to know you live in a country that produces this instead of According to Jim. There are extras galore on the two-disc set. Season One includes astoundingly intelligent commentaries on the season finale by Finkleman and interviewer Robert Enright, a "making of" that's wrapped up in the minutia of production, cast and crew bios, and promos for the Escape from the Newsroom TV movie. Season Two features more great commentaries on two episodes, a "making of" with more analysis by the cast and crew, three music videos by the Constantines, Revenge of the Egg People and NoAlternative, and an alternate ending for episode 13. (CBC/Morningstar)