Great News closes out its debut season by concluding the Biscuit Blitz arc and reexamining Katie and Carol’s relationship, the series’ emotional throughline. The former is a mixed bag, mostly because the plot mechanics of Katie’s scoop are fairly tired (the president of the network owns Biscuit Blitz, and she’s Greg’s grandmother!), but the latter has some potency because it takes seriously the difficulties of maintaining a close mother-daughter relationship. In short, it’s a mixed bag, and doesn’t feature the series at its best. However, it follows through on the Great News’ initial promise and puts it in a great place for a second season.
Let’s start with the Biscuit Blitz arc, a seemingly harmless game that’s actually a data-mining app that’s stealing info from people’s phones. Though Katie tries her best to find the app’s owner by sifting through the company’s financial records, another show on the network, Chip & Chet, scoops her. Later, we find out that Greg’s grandmother (Christina Pickles)—president of the network, co-host of Pond Scum (aka British Shark Tank), and all-around hard ass—owns the app and knew about the data-mining. Once Katie finds out, it’s up to the Breakdown gang to blow open the story before Gram shuts them down.
Of course, the team accomplishes this with a classic switcheroo that allows Greg to stand up to his grandmother and Chuck to relive his glory days when news was “a man, a camera, and the truth.” Wigfield and company go through the motions with Katie’s investigation and Gram’s downfall, from Katie’s organic discovery to the last-minute ingenious plan, unfortunately to the detriment of “Carol Has A Bully” and “Carol’s Eleven.” The actual story is fine but its development necessarily steamrolls the comedy a bit, especially in “Carol’s Eleven” which has to do too much plot work for the humor to shine through. There are a few general highlights here and there—Greg’s panic attacks, the various parodic attacks on British culture, the fact that everyone congratulates Gene for Katie’s investigative work—but it’s mostly an exercise that demonstrates Great News can pull off a multi-episode arc
This week’s episodes works best when focusing on their dramatic elements, specifically Katie and Carol’s relationship, which becomes strained when Katie learns that Carol hasn’t been attending community college. Katie tries to encourage Carol to keep at it, but Carol lacks any interest in school and is generally indifferent to hard work beyond parenthood. When Katie’s tutoring of Carol initially loses her the Biscuit Blitz exclusive, she accuses her mother of using her as a distraction from accomplishing her goals. Carol shoots back that she gave up on school once before to help raise her, and that some excuses are in fact sacrifices.
In “Carol Has a Bully,” Katie has the moral superiority, with Carol shirking off her professional responsibilities and impacting Katie’s job (even though it’s partially her own fault), but in “Carol’s Eleven,” it’s Carol’s turn to dole out the harsh truth. After Greg and Grams unceremoniously fire Katie for unethical reasons, Katie regresses back into a child and moves back in with her parents. She starts wearing her mom’s clothes, watching daytime TV, and soon becoming a younger clone of Carol. Whenever Carol sees Katie, she sees a child, something that Wigfield literalizes effectively, so she doesn’t want to hurt her feelings, but simply protect and love her. But Carol soon learns that the best way to help her daughter grow is to demand that she not give up on herself, like she has many time before.
After ten episodes, and both Martin and Heelan’s adjustment to their respective roles, Great News has the luxury of diving deeper into the series’ primary relationship beyond the superficial premise-related trappings. Wigfield primarily treated the relationship for laughs early on, yet still underscoring the humanity underneath, but in these two episodes, it gets the real treatment. Wigfield demonstrates that Katie doesn’t fall far from Carol’s proverbial tree, even though she tries her best to separate herself, and that Carol doesn’t want Katie to fall prey to the same character flaws she knows they share. It makes for an interesting dynamic, and much of it remains unsaid, but it’s nice that Wigfield considers the implications of Carol as both Katie’s life raft and the thorn in her side.
By the end, Carol helps Katie save the day and they walk off together, arm in arm, but not before a quick shot from Carol’s POV of the entire newsroom as kids. It’s a bit cheesy (Moms see everyone as children!), and yet it still works in the moment, because Wigfield doesn’t linger on it for too long. It would have been a nice sendoff if Great News wasn’t picked up for a second season. It’s even better as the conclusion to an introductory season.
- The name of Carol’s blog is I Am Carol Wendelson, This Is My Blog, Welcome To My Blog, Hello.
- Chuck is a season-ticket holder at the local Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum. It pays for itself after 50 visits and Dean Cain does the audio tour, in person.
- You have NO idea how Chuck’s body processes soup.
- Greg has nearly mastered the “Careless Whisper” sax solo on his recorder
- Portia is currently in a sexting relationship with all of the Pittsburgh Steelers
- Chuck thinks that AF means “as Frankenstein,” DTF means “don’t touch Frankenstein,” and that WTF means “won’t touch Frankenstein.”
- “Yeah, I got a D because your raps were just about how great fractions are and they were filled with curse words.”
- “You spent the last ten years of your life trying to impress a woman who clearly hates you. Why do we do it? Why do we keep coming back for more? Because we hate ourselves! You know what’d be really nice after this? Going home and crying.”
- “Every great journalist has a moment in his career when he wants to quit. For me, it was the day that I misreported that John Kerry’s running mate was the John Edwards that talks to ghosts.”
- “That’s what my mentor Morley Safer did to me. He drove me out to the desert, he said, ‘You could die out here or come back a journalist,’ and I did both.”