CliqueClack TV

Should NBC’s new comedy Go On, go on? I say no.

Although NBC’s newest comedy pilot, 'Go On,' had small bright spots, it wasn’t as funny as 'Mr. Sunshine' and felt forced in parts.

I feel like I’m doomed to dislike every single new comedy pilot this season. Go On is next on my fall season hit list. The NBC comedy surrounds radio sports shock jock, Ryan King (Matthew Perry), who is placed on bereavement leave by his station after his wife’s death, pending completion of ten counseling sessions. Unsurprisingly, despite fighting the process, King makes connections with the highly diverse local community support group undergoing similar life changes, particularly the Owen character.

Go On reminds me of everything I hated about Community’s pilot. It featured the good-looking, smart alecky white guy, and the too-obvious love interest, who bonds with and leads an island of minority misfit toys. Luckily, Dan Harmon realized that schlock didn’t work and revamped his show to the three-season awesomeness we previously witnessed. Considering this will probably serve as Community’s final season, I sense NBC wants to fill the void in advance. Unfortunately, appropriating a template that didn’t work until Harmon re-booted it isn’t the way.

I loved Matthew Perry in Mr. Sunshine and I looked forward to Go On as I thought it would pull from the cynical snarky nature that Perry has crafted over the years. But, in Go On, the snarktastic personality is no longer a comfortable coat. Instead, it is a shellacked armor that Perry pulls on far too easily, making it hard to see the emotions beneath.

The moments that felt true were the silent, unexpected moments when NBC didn’t try to hit us over the head with the characters’ over the top personalities. The mini-montage and Owen’s self-declaration all worked, but everything else seemed too much and too focused on the entertainment factor provided by each character’s personality, instead of embracing the dramedy. Maybe that’s my problem with the pilot. The episode didn’t have a focus other than showcasing the entertainment factor. It felt too shiny, too glossy, too happy and too determined to avoid revealing any emotions save in small, saccharine-oriented doses. Yea, it’s a comedy. But, it’s a comedy about death. It’s OK if we feel something every now and again.

Go On features a strong, established cast including John Cho (Star Trek, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle), Laura Benanti (The Playboy Club) and Bill Cobbs (OZ: The Great and Powerful, The Drew Carey Show, JAG). Like every single other comedy I panned this season, Go On has promise. But, it needs to let its supporting and its lead characters feel. It’s OK if the writing displays uncontrolled emotional messiness that doesn’t fit into a “more you know” bow. Although I like Matthew Perry and the featured cast, I didn’t like this pilot. It was too tightly controlled and too designed to make me feel, without letting me feel. But, who knows … Community grew out of its one-dimensional template, maybe Go On will as well.

Go On premieres Tuesday, September 11th at 9 PM EST on NBC.

If you’re interested in seeing the pilot before it premieres on network TV, check out the episode on Hulu.

Photo Credit: NBC

7 Responses to “Should NBC’s new comedy Go On, go on? I say no.”

September 6, 2012 at 5:23 PM

I enjoyed the pilot reasonably well. Probably the best new show I’ve seen this year, though that’s not saying much. There were some definite comedic dead spots, but when they embrace absurdity (rather than pretending it’s real, as with the too-serious love interest character) and genuine emotion (when it’s appropriate and believable, which they seem confused about at times), it works for me. I’ll definitely watch it again.

September 6, 2012 at 11:07 PM

I’m glad you liked it, Adam. I was just let down. It’s one of those pilots I thought would showcase Perry’s talents, but he seems too cemented into the cynical jerk this time around for my liking. At least in Mr. Sunshine, there were hints of vulnerability, which made the character seem realer. But, we’ll see. Hopefully, it’ll improve (and, hopefully, NBC will recant their decision to let Dan Harmon go and let him work on both this and Community) … Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

September 10, 2012 at 5:07 AM

It felt like a first and last episode all in one. I couldn’t care less about any of these characters. I have no interest in finding out about them. It was comedy by numbers at best.

September 11, 2012 at 9:10 AM

I’d really like to see Perry find his post-Friends TV niche. He was the funniest part of that show and he’s never quite been able to find his sweet spot in another character, even though I did enjoy him on Studio 60 for what it’s worth.

September 12, 2012 at 11:50 PM

Agreed. I loved Perry in his Ally McBeal and Good Wife stints as well as Mr. Sunshine. While I never saw Studio 60 (for fear of appearing disloyal to 30 Rock), I loved the idea of his S6 character. While he’s found his sweet character spot, the disgruntled snark, he hasn’t found a show that will stay on TV for longer than 1 season to showcase it. Hey, if Lisa Kudrow found her sweet spot with Web Therapy and Courtney Cox with Cougartown, here’s hoping Perry does so as well.

September 11, 2012 at 10:20 PM

compared to “The New Normal,” this was high comedy. I remember “Dear John” and how it took a while for that ensemble to get comfortable in a similar setting, but once it did, the show worked rather well. The March Sadness tournament was a good idea, and any time a show finds humor in LARPing, I’m happy. It was a pilot. Everyone seems to forget that most pilots do NOT hit it out of the park and have to be evaluated for potential. your own critique indicates this – I stopped watching “Community” because of the weakness of the pilot, and look what I missed. I’m going to give this one a few more episodes to see if it finds its groove.

and I also miss “Mister Sunshine,” yeah.

September 13, 2012 at 12:06 AM

Jim, I LOVE that you remember Dear John. I loved Dear John back in the day. It struck me from start to finish as truthful and vulnerable. It reminded me of Taxi, not only because it appeared in random late night hours, but because both shows displayed an honest, yet lonely quality. However, Go On seems desperate to push out those hints of loneliness and sadness except in a very few quiet moments. The obnoxious 80s guy who takes over the xxx group has been done before … in the 80s. Again, my review is only on the pilot. But, here’s hoping the writers learn Dan Harmon’s lessons (or pull Dan Harmon on board ;)

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