Season 1, Episode 1
This is a First Look Review of Tracey Wigfield’s Great News on NBC starring Briga Heelan, Andrea Martin, Adam Campbell, Nicole Richie, Horatio Sanz and John Michael Higgins.
Did that rat just jump or did somebody throw that at me?!
NBC has been on a roll lately with its new comedies. First there was The Good Place. Then Trial & Error. It stumbled with Powerless (and realized its mistake a little too late). Now it has a show from 30 Rock writer Tracey Wigfield that is simply astounding. Great News is as fast as its predecessor and just as comfortable as it was in its later seasons. On top of the jokes, the large cast plays well with one another and the story doesn’t go exactly in the tired direction that the logline would have you to believe.
Briga Heelan stars as Tracey, a news producer who wants to do a lead story. But she has to contend with her boss, Greg (Adam Campbell); her angry lead anchor, Chuck (John Michael Higgins); and outside forces she simply cannot control. Tracy’s mother, Carol (Andrea Martin), joins the fray after experiencing a life altering speech at a funeral for a friend. She decides on getting her degree in television production which requires her to have an intern credit. The easy plot here would be to have the daughter annoyed that the mother is honing in on her territory. But Tracey is completely supportive (by the end. There must be some tension in the beginning). The start of the show has the two women talking on the phone for a majority of it. A close relationship is established immediately making for a fresh take on the samey feeling contentious mother -daughter relationship. It feels fresh, leaving the story and jokes to do the talking.
And, dear God, the jokes. They’re outrageous. The script coming from Wigfield is extremely funny and captures the same attitude of 30 Rock. From minute one Great News is shown to be an antonym to Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom. Jokes fly out of character’s mouths at almost every line. One of the best of the night comes from Campbell’s Greg who shouts a line about Tracey getting fired and ending up selling her body for rent money. Other shows would’ve let the dud analogy fade but Great News followed it up with other characters giving him a disgusted look. Chalk that short but incredible instance up to the writing, acting and director Beth McCarthy’s sweeping motions. That’s just the tip of the joke iceberg.
What’s so lovely about Great News isn’t that it’s “fresh;” it’s a show that can stand alone – with confidence – and let its players and script do the talking. So many shows like the aforementioned Powerless force their jokes on the viewer. But Great News performs confidently, letting jokes hit with a one, two punch while readying another set. It’s masterful work.
Should you watch Great News?
100% yes. Tracey Wigfield manages to make a show about a mother-daughter relationship funny, without a showy attitude and simultaneously reinvents the wheel all at once. That’s even before the addition of the exceptional cast. Great news! Great News is great news (for NBC).