Fall 2012 Review: Go On

16 Aug

In Go On, Matthew Perry plays sports talk radio host Ryan King, who we find out is being suspended temporarily from his radio program to  to deal with the sudden death of his wife.  Before he can come back, his bosses mandate that he must take a 10 session course with others who have lost loved ones, in order to have some proof he’s appropriately dealt with his grief.  King naturally wants nothing to do with this; he doesn’t want to talk about his feelings, but rather wants to get right back to his outrageous sports shock jock broadcasting.  He reluctantly goes to his forced counseling sessions, and when the leader is absent, he takes control of the room of misfits, having them compete to see who has the saddest sob story (if only George Costanza had been a contestant).  When the actually group head arrives, he refuses to take part in her hippie-dippie share-your-feelings exercises, and demands that she sign his form so that he can go back to work.  In his short time attempting to ignore the leader’s instructions in the group, he gets one of the younger members to share about his traumatic experience.  Frustrated, the leader signs the form, but then when King goes back, he has a screaming incident after interviewing Terrell Owens (good sports get!) and realizes that maybe he needs therapy more than he originally thought.  He then voluntarily returns to the group, where he leads the band of merry misfits in  an uplifting activity.

Here’s my first issue.  I’ve never particularly liked Matthew Perry.  I never liked Friends, but I haven’t seen all that many episodes, and though I watched a disturbing amount of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Perry had little to do with why that show was such a disaster.  Probably the primary reason I have an intuitive dislike of Perry is his ability to constantly come off as smug, and smugness is one of my least favorite qualities in a person.  Immediately Perry began to rub me the wrong way in Go On, and though that’s probably partly the intent, it forced me to lower my expectations just a couple of minutes into the episode.

Additionally, It’s hard to watch this show as a Community fan and not think of it in comparison; the premise is that an arrogant, self-centered jerk is forced to take a pause in his career to spend some time with a diverse group of fuck ups who all have some quirky issues, and that this jerk must learn how to become a little less jerky, and does, through the input of the group, while helping lead them through dealing with their issues.

The problem of course is that this isn’t Community.  While Community didn’t manage to flesh out its chracters either until at least halfway through the first season (the first few were the Jeff, Britta, super weird Abed and others show), the pilot was very funny.  If I dissect Go On and look at the parts inside, I can see exactly where the writers scientifically put in all the elements; the wacky side characters, the heart, King’s possible evolution as a person, and such, but the writing’s not as good and it just doesn’t come together the same way.  There’s really only one real character in the first episode, and that’s Perry, and he doesn’t quite have the charisma to sell the show by himself.

Comedy’s a tough game and it takes more than 22 minutes to develop the elements for success, especially when in the first episode time is wasted explaining how we got to where we are, an explanation that should never need to be repeated again.  With that in mind though, in the pilot you hope to see just enough of certain elements that if you model future episodes in your brain these elements flesh out logically into funny, well developed episodes.  This takes a lot of guesswork, and while truly awful shows are obvious from about 3 minutes in (try watching Anger Management or Men at Work), the good shows need time.  However, forced to make a guess here, I’m not seeing it.

Will I watch it again?  I’m not going to watch the next episode.  It’s a comedy, and successful or not,  it is actually trying to be good comedy (it’s not a CBS multicamera sitcom) so I’ll be open to the possibility of chatter that the show is really finding its legs or “hitting the jukebox.”  If I had to guess, I would guess that it won’t, but I’ve been wrong before.

Addendum:  Although a few of the group members are wacky, and they barely have names in this episode, I regret omitting originally my relatively new review segment of “Wacky Side Character Alert” if only because I didn’t pause to comment on the work of Brett Gelman who plays a super creepy nameless guy who is by far the wackiest, and is better known by me for his exemplary work as Brett on Adult Swim’s Eagleheart.

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One Response to “Fall 2012 Review: Go On”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Fall 2012 Preview and Predictions: NBC « Television, the Drug of the Nation - September 11, 2012

    […] the Olympics to promote a couple of its new shows.  You can read my full review of the pilot here, but here’s the basic premise.  Friends veteran Matthew Perry is an egomaniacal sports talk […]

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