The Newsroom

Canadian Television Series. 1996-1997. Starring: Ken Finkleman, Peter Keleghan, Karen Hines. Television.
The Newsroom

The Newsroom is a Canadian series that starred Ken Finkleman stars as George Findlay - an intelligent, constipated, egotistical, cynical, immoral newsroom director who will go to any length to avoid his mother but lavishes attention on his BMW. He is primarily concerned with his stature within the beauraucracy of the television station and he effortlessly pushes sensationalist fantasies to boost the station's ratings. But, Finkleman plays George as somehow likeable unlike his unbearably unpleasant comedic descendants like Larry David or Dwight Schute.

I've seen The Newsroom compared to the UK's Drop Dead Donkey because it's set in a news studio too. That seems lazy to me. Whereas Drop Dead Donkey is wacky, laugh-tracked and therefore unwatchable, The Newsroom is generally low-key and dry although the situations are occasionally highly improbable and far-fetched. Because of its Canadian origins and its era, it can kind of be described as existing between The Larry Sanders Show and The Office with flannel and tuques (Canadian for "stocking caps").

Its real inspiration could be Australia's eerily similar, shot-as-a-documentary, dry, reality-bound, newsroom comedy Frontline (but how likely is it that the Canadians behind The Newsroom were catching episodes of an Australian show? Is that kind of stuff on the dish?)

The station's head anchor is the awful yet likeable Jim Walcott - an incredibly vacant moron who's constantly plagued by sexual harrasment charges and ends up running for office. His idiotic portrayal of a completely shifty and moronic politician seems disturbingly close to our current president (although, at time, Bush was still governing Texas, creating holidays like "Jesus Day" and setting new records in executions).

Rounding out the cast are Karen Mitchell - the segment producer who, because of her outspoken nature and integrity is wrongly assumed by George to be a lesbian. There are also Findlay's schmoozing segment producers/yes men, Audrey (his frequenltly bemused intern), Bruce the weather guy and Findlays bosses Nancy and and Sidney.

Some of the show's best bits come from guest appearances by public figures playing themselves such as various Canadian politicians, activists, Noam Chomsky and David Cronenberg as a hilariously unpleasant version of himself.

In Canada, the show's viewed as a national treasure. Here it's occasionally aired on PBS stations and, whilst a little hard to find on DVD, worth the effort.

Posted by:
Eric Brightwell
Jun 28, 2008 2:32pm
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