Great News Series Premiere Plot Summary:
Karen (Briga Heelan) is striving to be taken seriously as a news producer for a local station in Secaucus, NJ. But when her overbearing mom gets an internship position at her job, everything becomes more challenging.
NBC had a solid lineup of comedies for a while. At one time it had Parks and Recreation, The Office, Community and 30 Rock. (This order of shows is ranked by my favorite to least favorite, by the way.) That is the most solid lineup I have ever seen. I love Parks and Rec and The Office because they’re about character development and the overall narrative. 30 Rock and Community, on the other hand, are more about the jokes and zany situations. This is not to say the characters are weak. They just don’t lend to as much sentiment as Parks and Rec or The Office.
Tracy Wigfield, before creating Great News, was a staff writer for 30 Rock and The Mindy Project, which have the same focus on zany. This isn’t a problem in an objective stance. The first two episodes of Great News are hilarious. There were so many one-liners that had me gasping for air. Carol (Andrea Martin), Karen’s mom, has some of the best lines. Martin is a full body actor, which really brings Carol over the edge.
Great News is based on Wigfield’s own experience with her mom stopping by the writers room when she worked on 30 Rock. The show has a very 30 Rock vibe, right down to the soundtrack of poppy, little beats during scenes. The characters are just over-the-top enough to be called caricatures, just as with Liz Lemon, Tracy Jordan, and Jack Donaghy. Similarly, as these characters will go down in television history and onto lists of best characters written by TV nerds, so I predict the same for Karen and Carol.
I don’t mean to spend half of the review comparing Great News to 30 Rock, but it seems necessary. Tina Fey and Robert Carlock have a distinct style that permeates every project they are on. Great News is caused, in part, by their style, but I also think it is an homage to Wigfield’s origin and the real life situation that gave her a story to tell.
I highly recommend this show and hope it lives past the first season. I can’t stress this enough. I immensely enjoyed the first two episodes of Great News. It’s exactly what you look for in a sitcom, jokes and hilarity.
And here’s the but.
But I slot this show into a different category. It falls with The Mindy Project, 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Community. These are all fantastic shows. They are funny and well-written, with characters that can carry a joke through an episode, a season, or an entire series. So what’s the problem with this category? They aren’t comforting; I don’t really need to hang out with these characters. I don’t always really care what’s gonna happen next to them. It makes these shows harder to binge and harder to rewatch. (This, by the way, could be a long paper all on its own about the state of television viewers today and how shows have to conform to different rules.)
I review a show by judging if I’d wanna watch again and again, when I feel down or want a laugh or see some old friends. Parks and Recreation, The Office and Gilmore Girls rank among these shows. They have characters I wish I could be friends with in real life. The characters of Great News don’t make me feel that way.
I will only be able to watch this particular show when I am in a good mood and ready for some laughs. Still, Great News might be the beginning of NBC’s rise back up to comedic powerhouse.