After a week and a half of forcing us to care about synchronized diving, NBC finally made use of having its largest audience since 2004 and gave everyone a sneak peek of its newest comedy Go On. Which was a lovely break from badminton, but more importantly means that I can now give you an exclusive review of the show before anyone else sees it (except for all the other people bored enough to be watching Bob Costas discuss event results we’ve already known for twelve hours).
Go On is the latest in a string of attempts to get Matthew Perry back on television. Like all of his former Friends cast mates, Perry has been fighting to come out from the shadow of his iconic character and establish himself as a talented actor without exploiting his most memorable role. Unfortunately, because Matthew Perry is Chandler Bing, he has been the least successful at this (if you don’t count Matt LeBlanc who found success doing the exact opposite on Episodes or David Schwimmer, who I get the feeling doesn’t really care if he reaches that level of success again).
So in an attempt to break away from Chandler Bing, Perry has pretty much just played Chandler Bing in the most un-Friends like shows he could find. On paper that seems like an asinine strategy, which is supported by the fact every show he’s been in since Friends has failed. But really, it’s the best available option when that one character is your entire wheelhouse and perhaps the third time’s the charm with Go On.
Go On is comedy built around the premise of sports radio host, Ryan King (Perry), attempting to rebuild his life after the devastation of losing his wife in a horrible accident. Get it? Isn’t that funny? Perhaps on paper not, but in reality… kind of. The funny comes in the form of the support group King is, at first, forced to attend in order to work through his grief and return to his job. It seems like Go On is going for a mix of Community (band of misfits brought together for a common purpose) and Modern Family (in the sense that every episode is likely to leave you choked up. Or at least that’s the goal).
It’s hard to determine how much funny the Transitions Support Group will actually bring since the pilot was mostly devoted to getting as much exposition out as possible. Thats hardly a fault of the show as this is the goal of most (every) TV pilot, which usually (unfortunately) results in some clunkiness. There was also some fairly obvious foreshadowing with the group leader, Lauren (Laura Benanti) who will become the eventual love interest, and Owen (Tyler James Williams), who will likely become the moral center. The former of these felt tedious and left me cranky, the latter was the bright spot of the entire episode and left me a little more hopeful.
And while a lot of the pilot seemed contrived and predictable, I do think there is reason to hope. There were a few laugh out loud lines and solid enough writing to keep you amused if not in hysterics. And like I said, its Perry being Chandler, but that’s not necessarily bad. Chandler is one of the most loved TV characters of all time because he was always funny, charming and immensely likeable and Perry brings that to Go On, just like he has with everything else he’s done. It might not be the most inventive show, but that doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining. And really, watching just to see how many jokes they can wring out of people battling crippling depression is reason enough to tune in.
Go On premires Tuesday September 11th at 9/8c on NBC.
– Devin Mainville