TV Review: “Go On” – A Safe Bet

Written by Mitchell B October 04, 2012

“Go On” is a new sitcom starring Matthew Perry as Ryan King, a successful sportscaster who is sent to group therapy after the death of his wife. It can be seen Tuesdays on NBC at 9pm. It’s a little unbalanced tonally, striving for both the laugh-out-loud sitcom humor, as well as some sombre, heartfelt moments that come with this subject matter. Despite this, “Go On” is still a fairly entertaining show, and one of the better sitcoms premiering this fall.

Chandler the Sportscaster

The best part of “Go On” is, unsurprisingly, Matthew Perry. I’ve always enjoyed Perry, he was the best character on “Friends”, and Ryan King is like a Chandler who knows sports. Perry has a sarcastic wit that is enjoyable to watch, but he also has the dramatic chops to pull off some of the more emotional scenes as well. King is reluctant to take part in the therapy sessions, and often makes a mockery of them. In the pilot he creates a “March Sadness” bracket where various patients compete to see whose problems are worse. Some of these sports-related moments feel forced, as if the writers really want us to understand that Perry loves sports. If they were more subtle with the sports references it would feel a lot more natural, which is what a show about people coping with death needs.

A Cast of Characters

The supporting cast of “Go On” is fairly strong as well. The only other recognizable name in the cast is John Cho (Harold and Kumar), who plays Ryan’s boss, but the other patients are all fairly enjoyable. Seth Morris, who was always entertaining as a guest star on “Happy Endings”, is a series regular and is just as funny here. Brett Gelman, despite being a one-note character, is also one of the funnier patients in the group. For the most part, each patient brings something different to the group, which is smart on the writers’ part because it creates endless situations for King to become a part of. Despite this, however, the longevity of this series worries me.

After just a few episodes, “Go On” has already become fairly predictable as far as plot goes. Thus far the formula seems to be: Ryan thinks he is okay, he tries to out-therapist the group’s therapist Lauren (Laura Benanti), which usually backfires, but in the process Ryan learns something and shares a heartfelt moment with one of the other characters. This is where some of the weaker moments come into play. “Go On” changes tone at the drop of a hat, so it’s tough to stay with it when you’re laughing one moment and supposed to be crying the next.

A Long Road to Recovery

I’m also not sure how long this setup can last. The show has pigeonholed itself into this premise, which doesn’t allow for much expansion beyond the group therapy and Ryan’s job. What happens if the show is renewed for a second or third season? How long will it take for Ryan to actually move on and leave the group? These are the types of questions that need to be asked before pilots are greenlit. Looking back on shows like “Prison Break”, you see what happens when the show outgrows its premise.

Ultimately, “Go On” is a fairly safe sitcom. It doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, but it does bring an enjoyable cast of characters, headlined by Matthew Perry in another winning, if familiar, role. You likely won’t bust a gut laughing, but it’s unlikely that you’ll want to change the channel either. I’ll be staying with “Go On” for the time being and hoping that, like Ryan, the show continues to grow and get better.

My Rating: 7/10

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