New NBC Tuesdays – Go On

It is beginning to be that time of year. When the weather turns colder and the leaves start to fall, driving everyone inside to the warmth of the fireplace and the flickering light of the television. While you struggle to adjust your watching schedule given the changing times for returning favorites, you might also notice some newcomers enter the television line-up. To save you the agony of rearranging your schedule for a show that turns out to be a bust, I have taken on the mission of screening a few pilots for you to identify the ones worth watching.

 

Before I begin, I would like to thank the lovely Jenners for letting me use her brilliant title. For more of her cleverness, check her out.

 

Also note that all pilots I will be reviewing are available prior to their live premiere dates on Hulu. If you feel the need to confirm my review, check them out and let me know what you think in the comments below. Now on with the comedies!

 

GO ON

Tuesdays @ 9:00 EST

Premieres September 11th

 

 

Sportscaster Ryan King has just returned to work after the death of his wife. He claims he is doing fine and just needs to work. Unfortunately, his station does not agree and mandates Ryan attend 10 hours of group therapy. The board hopes that this will force him to deal with his emotions. How likely is that? Very unlikely. Ryan treats it as a game until a blow-up at work makes him realize that he actually needs to deal with his feelings by talking through them.

 

Familiar Faces: Matthew Perry (Friends, in case you lived under a rock in the 90s), John Cho (Harold from Harold & Kumar).

 

Favorite Quote: “You’re a very nice lady. I’m going to send you all my sad friends!”

 

This Reminds Me: Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Successful businessman finds himself in the position of having to leave work until he can complete some specified requirement. This requirement involves unwillingly joining a group of “losers” who will, over time, soften his cool façade and teach him about life outside of the office. If the business is radio and the requirement is group therapy, you have Go On. If the business is law and the requirement is getting a bachelor’s degree, you have Community. The main difference between Go On and Community is that the group in Go On has an actual leader who can bring the group back in line after Ryan has led them astray in their wacky shenanigans. The two shows also share repeated cultural references. In replacement of Abed’s media metaphors, you have Ryan’s sports analogies.

 

Other Aspects to Consider: The pilot is perfectly composed to introduce the cast of characters without being annoyingly detailed (the advertised “March Sadness” bit does this very well as each character must explain what brought them to the group in under 60 seconds). The therapy group provides many interesting storylines that could be explored over the course of the show, but there is also the opportunity to delve into Ryan’s work life and his past. You can surely expect many a sports star to guest on the show in the guise of giving an interview. And hopefully John Cho, as the boss, will not be relegated to the sidelines. When given the chance, he can create comedy gold.

 

Remaining Questions: Will there be any sexual tension between group mates? My only fear is that Ryan will end up sleeping with the group therapist. While this works on Community amongst students where there is no power differential, sexual tension with the group leader will undermine the point of therapy. Yes, I realize I am being preachy about therapy as portrayed on television (which is almost always wrong), but I truly hope this does not happen though I recognize its likelihood. They have a cute chemistry, but, just…. No.

 

How long can this therapy group be sustained? In Community, the initial time frame to which the main character has to commit is much longer. Here, Ryan only has to go to five sessions. By the end of the pilot, he has realized that he needs at least that much help, but can he quickly turn his attitude around and commit to going to therapy on a regular basis? While I already predict that there are many stories to be told, I question what will bond these stories together if the therapy group dissolves. Writers will also have to come up with some way to keep the group setting fresh if that remains the common factor.

 

The Verdict: DVR. I reserve the right to retract this after a couple of episodes, but this show has promise. For Matthew Perry’s sake, I hope this one sticks.

 

And in the next time slot… is  The New Normal 

 

11 Comments
  1. I think I need to watch this. It’s not something I thought looked very good, but I’ve heard mediocre-to-positive reviews, which is probably enough reason for me to give it a try.

    Especially if people are saying it’s even slightly sort-of in the same vein of Community… I adore Community with all my heart and soul, so I’ll at least try the first episode of this!

  2. I seen a little of the show, but I can say that it is somewhat interesting. Matthew Perry playing a different role on television, which is more serious and a little funny. Where as in friends he is just funny at all times. I honestly thought this show was going to get cancelled after the first two or three episodes, but it looks like it’s doing okay.

  3. I Like this one so far also. I agree it might get stale after a while depending on where the writers take things. I love Matthew Perry! It would be great to see him in something that works out. No one from Friends has had a lot of success with other shows since then, but maybe he will be the one to break the bad cycle…

  4. I really like “Go On.” It has its serious moments (because we are talking about grief and losing loved ones) but it’s really funny. I like Matthew Perry in anything he does. And the rest of the cast is really good too. It’s just gotten better with each episode.

  5. I’m glad this article sketches the similarities between Go On and Community. It’s symptomatic of a larger problem in television these days where networks will dismember the bodies of canceled shows with promise and recycle them into something a little less provocative, a little safer for the demographic. In my opinion, Go On is the newest Frankenstein monster of network television.

    Of course Community isn’t the only show being stitched into the beast here, but it’s an exemplary martyr for the cause. Community struggles with ratings not only because of its content but because the creators, bored with the comfortable sitcom, are constantly trying to reinvent comedic television. Go On plucks the characters and the motivations out of Community and airlifts them into bodies with less eloquent ways of saying the same things, less organic ways of playing the same motivations. It’s the quick, cheap sitcom that America’s sewed itself to and it represents one of the more depressing realities of modern television.

    That being said, as far as vaccuous, stereotypical network sitcoms go, it wasn’t godawful.

  6. I saw the pilot and thought the show had promise. But is it something I would watch every week. Probably not, but then it takes a lot for me to commit to a new program. I agree with you about just how long can this formula last? Unlike Community and The Office that both had formulas that could sustain several seasons, this one is about group therapy. How long can that really be a premise without the show becoming stale. Also, no offense to Matthew Perry, but he isn’t really enough of a comedic actor to sustain a sitcom on his own. Supporting player as he was on Friends, maybe but the lead, not sure he is the right type.

  7. I am with you – I am going to DVR this one with you. I liked the pilot, it was funny in a mindless way. I think it will be a great its-time-to-fold-laundry show.

    I like Mathew Perry. I agree with the previous poster that he IS always Chandler in the roles he plays, but I am okay with that. I liked Chandler, and I still watch Friends re runs late at night.

    I never saw Community, or even heard of it for that matter! Is it still running, or canceled already?

  8. I thought the show was pretty funny but it doesn’t seem any different than Mr. Sunshine as far as the humor goes and I feel like it is going to see the same fate as Mr. Sunshine (except this show will be cancelled instead of him having to go to rehab).

    I just find him to be one directional. Everything he has done since Friends has been exactly the same and I guess the charm has finally wore off. The show had it moments and got a good laugh out of me but I just don’t have high expectations for it.

    • I agree, Matthew Perry is one dimensional. He has basically been playing the same character since the 90’s. I’ve never seen him show a different personality, he’s always Chandler in everything.

  9. Once again, freaking awesome cast! There is something about Matt Perry I do not like. I agree with what you are saying it sounds A LOT like Community. With Community it really took me to the Halloween Episode of season 1 to get into the show, so I think this might be worth a watch but I doubt it is going to make it into my main show rotation!

    • This one is not quite as zany as Community. I haven’t decided if that’s good or bad yet. The second episode is already available on Hulu if you care to check it out. Sometimes it takes awhile to get into shows, which is unfortunate given how quickly they can be cancelled.