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Channel hop

Mark Peters

 

At the risk of shooting myself in the foot, I'll readily admit I am perhaps not the best person to be writing this week's column. 1) I never watch the news on TV - it really does depress me with all its doom and gloom. 2) I know nothing about politics, and I care about it even less; I honestly thought the Tea Party was some kind of political mad hatters' social event. 3) I have never worked in a newsroom.

See I'm completely unqualified to review HBO's The Newsroom as it returns for a second season tomorrow night at 9pm. I am not telling you this to be self-deprecating or to make you love me - I literally understand nothing about this stuff; but (a big one, like J.Lo's) I do watch quite a bit of television and I do like to be entertained.

The Newsroom, then, is a political drama series starring Jeff Daniels (far removed from his role in Dumb and Dumber) as News Night anchor Will McAvoy alongside an impressive ensemble cast that chronicles the behind-the-scenes goings-on at fictional cable news channel ACN. Written by Academy Award winner and renowned technophobe Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing), the first series received criticism and accolades in equal measure. Fittingly, I've always found myself in a love/hate relationship with everything Sorkin pens; so, while I totally get that the show explores the battle news media outlets face in trying to be impartial, like most of Sorkin's productions it seems to pompously hammer its points home with a giant mallet of self-importance.

What's more, I found the characters to be mostly arrogant and generally unlikeable, while the cringe-worthy romantic subplots never hid the fact I was watching a far less funnier version of Jon Stewart's The Daily Show.

As alluded to, though, what do I know? That being the case, like any reviewer worth his salt, I asked someone who does know, a guy who works in a newsroom, what he thought of The Newsroom. His eloquent and insightful response? "It's pretty good." So there you have it, straight from the horse's mouth.

Sailing in on a much more lightweight ship comes folklore hero Sinbad (TVB Pearl, tomorrow at 8.30pm) en route to fantasy adventures on the high seas. Newcomer to our screens Elliot Knight plays the handsome title character, a scampish street hustler with an eye for trouble and an uncanny knack for escaping it. When a tragic turn of events forces him to flee his home, he is condemned to a life at sea along with his band of roguish misfits.

Also starring Naveen Andrews (Lost) as the out-for-vengeance Lord Akbari, this is fast-paced, foolish, good-time entertainment brimful with magic, monsters and plenty of eye candy. Filmed in Malta, Sinbad is visually seductive and the CGI is impressive. The acting can at times be quite hammy but the script is snappy. It's really just unpretentious family fun.

I was expecting Sinbad to be as lame as most of these dumbed-down modern-day hero adventures, and thought I'd be wrapping with a witty one-liner such as "sinfully bad". But it isn't. So I won't.

 

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