Plot: Katie (Briga Heelan) has worked hard to climb the ladder at MMN, a news station that might not be the top of the ratings, but is populated with colorful personalities and some creative freedom. She has always been under the meddling gaze of her mother Carol (Andrea Martin), so she feels good to be on her own and free to pursue her life as she sees fit. At work, she produces various segments and enjoys her position, but she longs for serious news, rather than the usual fluff pieces. As she tries to keep herself motivated, Katie talks to her mom about going after her dreams, which inspires Carol to do just that. Soon enough, Katie learns that her mother has been hired at MMN as an intern, which causes her immense stress. Can she balance her constantly interfering mother, the pressures of her workload, and the ambition to keep climbing the ranks, or has Carol’s arrival thrown Katie’s world into chaos?
Entertainment Value: The premise of Great News isn’t all that fresh, as we’ve seen countless shows that center on television production and even news in specific, but this series manages to have a unique presence, thanks to a colorful ensemble cast and an absurdist sense of humor. The rapid fire, sometimes random nature of the comedy is bound to throw some viewers off, but those who appreciate manic, inventive humor should find a lot to like here. The show is episodic to a point, as there’s a new central focus with each episode that normally resolves itself as in most sitcoms, but there’s also a few larger arcs in motion, like the phone hacking investigation, so Great News strikes that balance quite well. You can drop in, drop out and still have some laughs, but you benefit from keeping up with the series as well. The stories are passable, but the real draw here is the dialogue, which is frantic, manic, and hilarious, though as I said, the absurd style involved might turn some viewers off. But I loved how random and outlandish most of the exchanges are, a kind of dialed up madness, without going into total nonsense. So the stories and character development still make sense, it all just unfolds in an outrageous, stylized approach.
As much fun as the dialogue is, it is greatly enhanced by the wild performances of the cast, who really embrace the tone and run with it. This is a deep, talented ensemble and despite the size of the cast, the show is able to keep a good balance and allow everyone chances to shine. Briga Heelan has the central role, so she is given more material than the others and she makes the most of that added screen time, with a charismatic and super fun lead performance. She is likable, even in the most bizarre and absurd moments, so she anchors Great News like a champ and gives the show a solid center to build around, as she can bring out the best in her costars, regardless of the scene’s configuration. John Michael Higgins is also hilarious in the show, as the aging, out of touch lead newsman, while Andrea Martin shines as the overprotective mother trying to fit back into the workplace. The supporting cast is excellent as well and as I said, no one is left out in the cold and everyone is given stories to showcase their talents within, so there are no weak links here. The cast also includes Nicole Richie, Adam Campbell, Horatio Sanz, and Vicki Lawrence.