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TV Picks: 'The Newsroom,' 'The Comeback,' 'The Blacklist'

TV Picks: 'The Newsroom,' 'The Comeback,' 'The Blacklist'
Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer in "The Newsroom." (Melissa Moseley / HBO)

"The Newsroom." In its third, final and shortened season, Aaron Sorkin's dramatic and often critical look at the state of the American media has polished away many of its flaws to become the show many hoped for upon its premiere.

Following story lines both directly and indirectly pulled from current events, Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) and his broadcast team face obstacles, internal and external, that many news organizations face, including corporate machinations, the growing influence of social media and the eternal conflict journalistic responsibility versus national security.

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Opening with a backdrop of the Boston Marathon bombings, the fictional ACM quickly become embroiled in the possibility of a take-over and Neel's (Dev Patel) sudden possession of damning classified documents.

Vowing not to go down without a fight, Will and Mack, now a team personally as well as professionally, try to find a clear moral center as the Old Media comes to terms with the New, which finally allows every member of this very fine cast to shine. HBO, Sundays, 9 p.m.

"The Comeback." Lisa Kudrow brings the painfully oblivious yet endearingly determined Valerie Cherish back for a second season, nine years after the series was canceled to the heartbreak of many.

The years have not been kind to Valerie, a struggling and self-centered actress recently reduced to infomercials and student films. Her attempt to sell a reality series to Bravo is interrupted by the news that her loathed former co-star has sold a satiric version of his life with her to HBO. Storming the offices in preparation of a lawsuit, Valerie is persuaded to star in the series, creating a unique performance of an actress (Kudrow) playing an already satiric version of an actress playing a satiric version of herself.

The meta-metaness of it all is saved by an insistence on giving Valerie, and indeed all the characters, a humanity that make the humor as universal as it is often painful. Television is served up, yes, as is Hollywood narcissism but more than that, "The Comeback" looks at both the danger and salvation of dreams. 
HBO, Sundays, 10 p.m.

"The Blacklist." I'm not a big one for mid-season finales, but what with Elizabeth (Megan Boone) holding her mendacious, fake ex-husband prisoner and Red (James Spader) presenting  arch-nemesis Berlin (Peter Stormare) with his daughter, whom Berlin thought Red had killed, and Alan Alda returning as the oily government official/member of secret international cabal, well, how on earth can you miss it.

Last year's bona fide hit holds steady, proving that life is always better when James Spader is on television. NBC, Monday 9 p.m.

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