The Newsroom (HBO). Here's a series that is worth all of its hype. After I saw the pilot of The Newsroom, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor, and I get that same impressed feeling with every subsequent episode. Jeff Daniels gives the performance of his career - and should hopefully score at least an award nomination of some kind - as impassioned newsman Will McAvoy. He's the leader of a cast that brings its "A" game, particularly John Gallagher Jr. as associate producer Jim Harper and the ever-dependable Sam Waterston as network boss Charlie Skinner. Weaving real news stories into a fictional narrative, the series gives us an idealistic hindsight that's refreshing in our cynical times. And oh yeah, it's a weekly dose of the amazing writing of Aaron Sorkin. I find myself wishing the real news worked the way The Newsroom does. (Sundays at 10 PM ET/PT)

XIII: The Series (Reelz). I mentioned XIII in a previous column so I'd be remiss if I didn't include it here. It's reminscent of Hitman, in that we've got another nameless assassin out to do more than kill people. This time, it's not 47 but 13, and 13 is played by Stuart Townsend (Queen of the Damned), who puts serious work into developing the character beyond his lethal skills. There's more here than just action. Yet when there is a call for action, the fight sequences and suspense are above average. This is a small-screen production as good as many recent action movies, and a solid choice to start each weekend. The only concern is that the show's second season (currently in production) is allegedly undergoing major changes, because season one is pretty great. (Fridays at 9 PM ET/PT)

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