Season 1, Episodes 5 and 6
Air Date: Tuesday, May 9, 2017, 9/8c on NBC
“Great, the Wendelsons are ruining the show again.” – Greg
Carol’s (Andrea Martin) karaoke night for The Breakdown staff fails miserably after no one shows up. When Greg (Adam Campbell) refuses her request to help her boost office morale, Carol is forced to turn to a higher power. It’s not long before her prayers are answered as a snowstorm cripples the city and traps the entire crew inside the building. Will the unforeseen turn of events make her coworkers stir crazy and drive them further apart? Not if Carol has anything to say about it.
One of the things that makes Great News enjoyable, outside of Carol’s relationship with her daughter Katie (Briga Heelan), is the writers allow Carol to have meaningful scenes with other characters. I particularly enjoyed the moments shared by Carol and Greg during “Snowmageddon of the Century.” Both Campbell and Martin are talented actors and it’s a riot to watch their characters play off each other. After Greg shoots down Carol’s ideas, despite her heart being in the right place, she takes matters into her own hands and things get a little out of control.
As someone who comes from a family with a history of alcoholism, I’m always leery anytime alcohol is used as a plot device. It just seems like a way for writers to take the easy way out by allowing characters to blame their actions on the liquor. While the alcohol plays a role in “Snowmageddon of the Century,” it fits the storyline and the drinking does have amusing consequences. It’s entertaining to watch outlandish characters kick things up a notch when The Breakdown staff lets loose. That said, I can honestly say it’s not often you see a series creator appear on television in their bra as money rains down on them.
Carol isn’t the only one feeling a strain between her coworkers. Katie turns to Portia (Nicole Ritchie) for advice after Chuck (John Michael Higgins) develops a sudden interest in her. While Katie’s convinced Chuck is finally noticing her talents as a producer, Portia suggests his interests are more of a physical nature. The end result is hilarious as Katie eventually confronts Chuck about his behavior.
Despite my TV crush on Katie, overall Chuck is perhaps my favorite character on Great News. His unorthodox demeanor at the station reminds me of Bill McNeal (Phil Hartman), another entertaining newsman from the ‘90s sitcom News Radio. Both characters share the bombastic talent of being a thorn in their news director’s side. Given his antics, it’s no surprise Chuck has quickly become a fan favorite on the show.
One of the few gripes I have about Great News is the writers’ apparent need to insert a line into an episode that turns what could be a family friendly show into a questionable one. While foul language is nothing new to television, Greg screaming at Beth (Tracey Wigfield) “Shut up bitch” in “Snowmageddon of the Century” doesn’t fit the tone of the rest of the episode. It seems each episode of Great News has a similar moment where an adult moment is briefly unleashed. I’m all for shows pushing the envelope but when 99% of your show is something the whole family can enjoy, is it really worth throwing that away just to have the 1% that’s edgy?
In episode six, “Serial Arsonist,” Katie takes on new duties after Kevin (Alec Manley Wilson), The Breakdown’s field reporter, is arrested for starting the numerous arsons he’s been reporting on. While Katie is unfazed by the star power that comes with being in front of the camera, Carol relishes showing off her daughter to her friends. Realizing being a field reporter isn’t the career path she wants, Katie sabotages her news story by reliving her past in the funniest of ways.
“Serial Arsonist” conveys the sincere message that believing in your dreams is something people should never give up on. It’s a point that isn’t forced down the audience’s throat, which is something I enjoy. The way the writers utilize Carol’s inscribed decorative rock throughout the episode to inspire other characters is quite clever. And while I appreciate the writers allowing Carol to interact with some of her coworkers, the heart of the show is still her relationship with Katie, which is on full display quite nicely during the episode.
Meanwhile, wanting to show his coworkers he’s more than a hard-hitting newsman, Chuck volunteers to write the new theme song for The Breakdown. The short jingle turns into a lengthy, albeit odd, catchy rock ballad. As ridiculous as this storyline is, I couldn’t help but laugh. Horatio Sanz doesn’t get enough credit for the humor he brings to his character Justin. As much as I enjoy Chuck and Justin’s collaboration on the song, I’m surprised Justin never mentions his own attempt at the theme during “Chuck Pierce is Blind.”
Created by Wigfield, Great News offers two more fun episodes. There are so many entertaining bits sprinkled throughout “Snowmageddon of the Century” and “Serial Arsonist.” It’s impossible not to laugh at Carol’s offer of lemon squares, the chair incident between Justin and Gene (Brad Morris), and Katie’s “Hotstepper” routine. And what can I say about Vicki Lawrence’s appearance; how can you not enjoy that! It’s hard to believe we’re already past the halfway mark of the season.
Tweet me @Staffaroadtrip or leave a comment below to let me know what you think about “Snowmageddon of the Century” and “Serial Arsonist.”
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Photos © 2017 NBC Universal, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
© 2017, Greg Staffa. All rights reserved.
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