Great News / NBC

Great News closes out its fall season with an episode that primarily develops some nascent storylines in time for next year, but also features a guest appearance from an NFL running back. Rashad Jennings has played for the Jaguars, the Raiders, and most recently for the Giants, but can now add “Great News guest star” alongside “Dancing With The Stars winner” on his resume.

Jennings plays Carvell, Portia’s fiancée who has been suspended from the NFL for “deflating footballs and then refilling them with helium.” They’ve been engaged for five years, but their competing work schedules have kept them apart until now. But as soon as Carvell meets Chuck, they quickly become bros, bonding over being “elder statesmen” in their respective fields. This further strains Carvell and Portia’s relationship, especially when Chuck tries to get Portia to watch his marital therapy VHS series entitled Vow Chicka Vow Vow: Exploring Marital Relations with Chuck Pierce.

Jennings does a solid job as Carvell, considering he has only other appeared on one other series (Power) where he played himself. He has fun playing the excitable, subtly multitalented football player who wants a buddy with whom to horse around. Plus, John Michael Higgins has the unique ability to play off of just about anyone, so he fits in well as Carvell’s new buddy who likes to put on pool shows and play video games.

On the whole, the Carvell story is cute, but it’s better than the A-plot, which mostly pushes plot and not much else. In short, Katie and Jeremy (Reid Scott, a.k.a. Dan from Veep), the New York Times reporter she met at the American Journalism Awards, decide to embark on a stakeout because Jeremy received a hot tip that a congressman was being blackmailed with damning photographs. Carol immediately suspects Katie is lying when she blows her off, so she enlists Greg to go along with her. While staking out Katie and Jeremy, Carol accidentally lets slip to Greg that Katie had feelings for him.

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What follows is fairly typical: Greg skirts around this new information and decides to continue to stake out Katie for “work reasons.” Katie and Jeremy get closer, eventually snap photos of the blackmail material, and they kiss. Greg tries to stop the congressman’s security detail from catching Katie and Jeremy in the act, so he throws a sandwich at their back and receives a shiner in return.

This is standard sitcom workplace romance escalation, which is fine and all that, but there are a couple issues. For one thing, Jeremy’s snarky arrogance shtick is too transparent as a character weakness. Katie might be attracted to his professional confidence, but it’s almost too clear that she’ll eventually tire of his condescension towards her work. (Plus, the character is just too similar to Dan for Scott to play a sincere love interest.) Another problem is that Katie and Greg haven’t had enough scenes together this season to demonstrate their compatibility. Briga Heelan and Adam Campbell certainly have great chemistry when they square off against each other in the workplace, but flirtation is a whole other game. As of now, we’re taking it on spec that they would be great together if they just gave love a chance.

I don’t doubt that Great News will push Katie and Greg together when they come back next year. Carol promised to keep Greg’s mild heroism a secret, which will almost certainly spill out in an episode or two. For now, we’ll settle for Portia and Carvell reconnecting after Chuck briefly split them up. As Justin so eloquently put it, “Love is so romantic when both people are hot.”

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Stray observations

  • Katie and Carol watch a new show called Goose, a sexy Mother Goose adaptation on the CW set in present day Miami. In case you’re wondering, serial killer Itsy Bitsy almost killed Detective Muffet with his Hot Cross Bow in last week’s episode.
  • There are some good digs at the NFL’s negligent medical protections for their players. Carvell mentions that “most of his bones are inside out” and he “doesn’t care what his neurologist says says says says.”
  • Katie was assigned to produce a Hero of the Week segment, in which she profiles a hero sandwich that has performed an act of bravery.
  • Chuck’s co-star in his marital therapy series was Reba McEntire, who had her face obscured and name bleeped out on the tapes because she didn’t know they would be released. Chuck spills the beans when he says to watch out for her new series Reba.
  • Funniest exchange of the week: Carol informs Greg that her fingers were crossed when they spoke earlier. A frustrated Greg just snaps back, “Not again!”
  • “Say you wouldn’t be interested in going to a Matrix-themed magic show featuring none of the original cast, would ya?”
  • “What’s up with your bitch? I’m sorry. That was rude. What’s up with your bitch wife?”
  • “A man needs encouragement. Try helpful phrases like, ‘It’s okay if you want to take a nap and start up again later.’”
  • “Most of the time, Carvell and I try to avoid gender stereotypes in our relationship, but I also love when big muscle men hurt other men for me.”

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