Nobody has been able to mount a successful newsroom drama since Lou Grant was axed in 1982, but producers persist in trying, undeterred by the public’s repeated indifference. E.N.G., a Canadian import, comes hard on the heels of the genre’s most recent flop, ABC’s overblown Capital News, and it’s no improvement.
Set in the newsroom of an urban television station, the show follows the fortunes of a dozen professionals who go about their duties with a fervor and righteousness that exists only in this kind of TV series. Every single day, these paragons grapple with life-or-death decisions and wrenching ethical dilemmas, leap into burning buildings, bring down creepy politicians, and then go home, world-weary warriors ready to return to the trenches the next morning.
E.N.G. (an acronym for electronic news gathering) serves all this up in earnest, fairly humorless fashion. In the opener, cameraman Jake Antonelli (Mark Humphrey) is taken hostage when he films a holdup, and news director Ann Hildebrandt (Sara Botsford), his secret lover, has to hold her emotions in check while going on with her job, which consists mostly of barking out lines like ”Please, people, move it!” In the TV tradition of brittle career women, she allows herself only one moment of indulgence: ”Damn it, Jake,” she mutters to herself while his life hangs in the balance.
Viewers are unlikely to express much more feeling than that about E.N.G., which, for all its attempts to whip up excitement, is as bland and predictable as TV drama gets. C