What to Watch This Weekend: A Rapid-Fire Sitcom


Like many TV fans, I was thrilled when Netflix saved the ridiculous and wonderful “Girls5eva” from cancellation at the hands of Peacock. A cheeky treat about a ’90s girl group reuniting, “Girls5eva” belongs to a category of show I like to call “30 Rock” Offspring. It’s not exactly a spinoff of that beloved, long-running NBC sitcom about the making of a sketch comedy show, but “30 Rock” alumni are involved and the quality and rapid pace of its jokes are similar. You barely catch your breath after one punchline before the next comes hurtling toward you.

Not all children of “30 Rock” have cheated death, but the unlucky ones are still worthy of your viewing time. Once you’ve finished “Girls5eva” on Netflix you can stay on that platform to watch “Great News,” the sitcom created by Tracey Wigfield and produced (of course) by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. The news is indeed “great.” You’ll have a blast.

“Great News,” which premiered in 2017, lasted only two seasons on NBC, but its mere 23 episodes are gloriously funny. The premise centers on Katie Wendelson (Briga Heelan), a stressed-out cable news producer with an overattentive mother Carol (Andrea Martin). After one of Carol’s friends dies (she is described as “the other Carol”), she decides to go back to school and get an internship at Katie’s network. Katie is annoyed, but it turns out Carol is the only person who can handle the bombastic and self-involved anchor Chuck Pierce (John Michael Higgins).

As in any good sitcom, the plot of the pilot just jump starts the action. Katie and Carol will continuously bicker and make up, but they are only one part of the newsroom. Chuck has a similarly delusional co-anchor in the vain Portia (Nicole Richie), and Katie develops a will-they-or-won’t-they with her boss, Greg (Adam Campbell).

Most of the pleasure of watching “Great News” comes from the jokes and the way the cast delivers them. Martin and Higgins are consummate pros, but you may be surprised to find that Richie more than holds her own. (Or maybe not, if you saw her deadpan on “The Simple Life.”)

There’s a moment in the second season I think about all the time. The crew has planned a surprise birthday party for the uptight and very British Greg. When he’s shocked by the burst of confetti, instead of saying, “Oh my God” or something similar he shouts, “Tiny Dunkirk!” This is a man who likens an innocent celebration to war and It is genius in its specificity.

I wish there were more episodes of “Great News,” but alas its time on the air was brief. The good news is that after “Great News” you can head over to Peacock to watch Wigfield’s hilarious reboot of “Saved by the Bell,” which was also canceled too soon. “Girls5eva” is still going strong, and there is also “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” another Fey-Carlock production — that one got a nice long run on Netflix with a movie to boot. After that, maybe it’s time to just go back and watch “30 Rock” again.



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