Pilot: “Great News”

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The end of the current television season means the start of random shows you’ve never heard of popping up. Why exactly? Because networks are so jam packed with shows, they can’t find any other time or way to schedule new programming, or at the least, realize that maybe less really is more. Perhaps if they focused on the plethora of shows already seeking a time slot, then they’d see better ratings and wouldn’t feel the need too constantly fill every hour with programming nobody’s going to even pretend to be interested in watching in the first place. Until that time, well, here we are again. Another new show.

The NBCUniversal Television series “Great News” is definitely going to need more time. Given how long this first season is set to be, that’s not really a bad thing. Of course, even with eight episodes remaining, I can’t yet, if at all, say that that’s a good thing either. I guess some of it’s going to depend on how much I can handle from these writers and characters. This new comedy series is certainly reminding me of why it takes a lot of creative work to convince me a series is worth watching. I’m optimistic about this new series, but will that be enough to keep me watching or coming back if it should receive a second season?

Hire Your Mother To Intern

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While normally I focus on just the pilot, this was a two episode premier and I’ve seen both, so I figured it’d be okay to once again talk about both. It certainly allowed for me to form a better idea of what I think this show will be and feel like it was a semi-decent choice. I’m still not sure if wasting an hour on this series was good, but at least I know it wasn’t a bad one. At least I think it wasn’t bad.

For starters this hour long experience gave me plenty of cute, charming and quirky to know that it’s exactly what I expected it to be. It’s being executive produced by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock who most recently created “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”, so that alone says a lot. Throw in Fey’s other well known series, “30 Rock” and you know even more. Tracey Wigfield created this series, but before that, she wrote episodes of “30 Rock” and “The Mindy Project”, where she’s also a co-executive producer. Now you know even more.

While these bits of information were put out in TV spots, it didn’t fully fill me with confidence. My hopes were certainly raised, but I knew that it wasn’t a sure thing. Mostly, I couldn’t tell if it was funny. Yes, I laughed, but that’s not hard to get me to do. The question I had centered on whether or not the comedy was funny or just stupid. For me, the dumber the comedy, the further I stay away. It’s basically what told me that “Mulaney” was a bad idea all the way around.

For me, now with two episodes down, the thing I love the most is the mother/daughter relationship. It’s somehow perfect. It’s dysfunctional and full of love. Even though I’m clearly not a daughter, there’s still something within this relationship that’s a little relatable. I get it. It’s enjoyable and as much as Andrea Martin’s Carol is way too involved in her daughter’s life, it’s strangely okay. Granted, I say that now and could possibly change my mind in a few weeks. There’s also the simple fact that Martin works off of Briga Heelan really well. Neither actress seemed to miss a beat and just nailed the comedy in a way that most can’t for me. That, and chemistry, which sold their dysfunctional relationship, helped make the hour far more enjoyable than I expected it to be.

On an individual level, Heelan and Martin’s characters are quite unique on their own. Each so perfectly stands out amongst the rest, that not only can you marvel at them and what they’ve achieved, you can find plenty to love and feel meh about. I say that as it’s too soon to fully know what I think of them. Anyway. Heelan’s just career driven and slightly neurotic, but she does her best with mixed and hilarious results. Martin’s just, thus far, a bit overbearing. She comes from a good place, but it’s a bit much. That being said, she brings so many quirks, that like with Heelan’s Katie, I’m okay with her constant presence. If she weren’t around so much, this wouldn’t be the type of show it’s aiming to be. A show about a mother/daughter relationship. For that, I’m wiling to stick around a bit longer.

Leading Jokes

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Characters are a great way to get you into a comedy, especially when they’re all a little weird. But it’s really the comedy that stems from clever jokes and characters that can bring the situations to life. So far, I’d say this has worked, but it doesn’t come without some reservations.

While everything’s been more or less funny with good jokes and gags put in place, they need to be watched. In the actual pilot, it seemed that the whole mother coming to be the intern bit was going on way too much. Granted, the series depends on this, but it could probably get away with this if it avoids seeming too repetitive and annoying. The same idea applies to the rest of the jokes and running gags. Wigfield and her writers can keep things going all episode or season, but not if the horse is being beaten too many times. I guess something that’s a positive, that falls into this comedy and joke area, is the fact that with episode two, I wasn’t really focused on nitpicking. By then I was just enjoying everything I was seeing and hearing. I was laughing, a lot. I’ll continue to hope that this series gets better and really finds itself, but this is a huge first step!

The other characters, well, they’re eh. And in the case of Horatio Sanz, well, there’s pretty much nothing to say. He sat in a chair and existed. Still, I’m going to grow to love them, I’m sure. Until then, I guess they’re going to serve whatever comedic purpose this series needs. Thus far, it’s to be the relatively stupider people in the newsroom. At least if you’re John Michael Higgins and Nicole Richie. But like with Jenna Maroney, these two are way more than just slightly dumb. They’ll somehow, as was evident by episode two, be great for supplying commentary. Commentary on journalism, the news, media and the world at large. I’m just sitting there watching Richie and Higgins continue a bit about doing friendly banter, and the next things I hear are intelligible thoughts on the direction the news has gone and how journalists now operate. What?! Incredible! Helping was the fact that Higgins and Richie also worked well off each other and just made it so much funnier. If this is one of the areas this series hopes to explore week in and week out, then there’s a lot there. After this display, I’ll be keeping an ear out for any more clever bits of commentary. I’m also wondering, if there’ll be other types of commentary. Not simply a good pop culture reference, like when Martin says, “He was in that movie I like with Old Christine”. I guess the only way to find out is to stick with this series for the next several weeks. And here I thought my TV schedule was starting to clear up.

Originally Aired: April 25, 2017

Creator: Tracey Wigfield

Starring: Briga Heelan, Andrea Martin, Adam Campbell, Nicole Richie, Horatio Sanz and John Michael Higgins

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