By Jen Chaney
LOS ANGELES (Vulture) — On January 25’s season-two finale of “Great News,” anchorman Chuck Pierce (John Michael Higgins) fought to keep his job and stay on the airwaves. Which is what “Great News” may need to do, too.
NBC has not announced whether it plans to renew or cancel this half-hour comedy, created by “30 Rock” alum Tracey Wigfield, who also plays weather weirdo Beth, and executive produced by three more people known for their work on the “Liz Lemon Show”: Tina Fey, Robert Carlock, and David Miner. But it’s no secret that the ratings for “Great News” have been unimpressive, especially compared to its NBC Thursday night counterparts, including lead-in “Will & Grace.”
I don’t understand why people aren’t watching, but I sincerely hope NBC gives “Great News” at least one more season. It’s not necessarily a groundbreaking show — its comedy is steeped in the hyperspeed tradition previously established by shows like “Arrested Development” and (duh) “30 Rock.” It’s also not a mindforker like “The Good Place” or a reboot like “Will & Grace” and 80 percent of the shows currently being developed for television, nor is it a limited series stacked with Oscar-winning actresses or affiliated in any way with Ryan Murphy. But “Great News” is a consistently funny, occasionally topical, terrific comedy that had a sense of its own identity from the first second of its pilot and has never wavered from it.
It was excellent from the jump and, like its protagonist, the frazzled but determined Katie Wendelson (Briga Heelan), has continued to do reliably strong work even when that work wasn’t necessarily being acknowledged for its brilliance. We need shows that are as confident in their gleeful absurdity as Great News is, especially right now, when the actual news is an hourly attempt to persuade Americans to increase the dosage on their anti-anxiety meds. (Is it possible that people aren’t watching this show because they are they turned off by the word “news”? Is that what we’ve come to?)
“Great News” moves according the same rhythms as a daily newsroom: Everything happens very fast, to the point where it’s tough to absorb it all. As is true of other Fey-Carlock works, “30 Rock” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” some of the sharpest lines on the show are tossed off like casual asides, but are usually funnier than the high jinks lesser sitcoms spend entire episodes building toward. I laughed for at least two straight minutes during last week’s episode when Carol (Andrea Martin) noted that she was wearing a blazer from “Chico’s Urban Menopause collection.”