Picks and Pans Review: News at Eleven
CBS (Wed., April 2, 9 p.m. ET)
Martin Sheen is a local TV anchorman, a star who nonetheless knows something about journalism. Peter (Concealed Enemies) Riegert is his news director, charged with raising the ratings high (without necessarily being high-minded). These two men clash over ethics, privacy, the public good and even motherhood when a teacher is arrested on suspicion of having sex with a student, and the station goes after the story with a vengeance. There’s a great TV movie to be made about local TV news, how it sometimes goes too far—and too low—to get ratings. But News at Eleven just misses being that movie. The show is occasionally naive; its reporters don’t know how easy it is to get a police report, and they do some things that would make the slimiest reporter, print or video, cringe. Some of the dialogue is fatuous: “The public has a right to know,” says Riegert. “It’s our obligation to report, not judge.” Yeah, yeah, yeah. Still, if you can forgive its lapses, News may grip and fascinate you with an intelligent, intriguing argument. The show also does a great job of capturing local TV news at its most superficial—when the big story breaks, the station jams the air with shocked neighbors and stories on child abuse and sex-for-grades. And Sheen, Riegert and Barbara (Mr. Sunshine) Babcock, as a district attorney, make up an all-pro cast.