Friday, August 10, 2012

Pilot Review: Go On

Go On (NBC)
Premiered August 8 at 11pm

It’s not often that broadcast networks preview their fall pilots during the summer, though a plush post-Olympics spot is almost as enviable as following the Super Bowl. In the case of this new Matthew Perry offering, however, an early look may not be the best thing. The funnyman hasn’t had much luck in the TV world since “Friends” ended, and this is now his third straight series in which he plays someone involved in public broadcasting. Aaron Sorkin’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” lasted just one full season, and ABC’s midseason replacement “Mr. Sunshine” only made it to nine episodes. Now, he’s back in an even more similar role to the ABC series, as a man experiencing a messy life crisis in the midst of his daily operations on a radio show (last time was TV). After going back to work far too soon, he’s now going to spend much of his time at a support group for those who have lost people close to them. The problem is, he’s already achieved the necessary epiphany in which he realizes he needs to acknowledge the fact that there’s something wrong. It could make for compelling drama, but this show is a comedy. The dueling tones don’t mesh well, and it’s difficult to jump back and forth, especially when Perry’s character, Ryan, uses humor as a defense mechanism every time something serious happens. Among the cast, the most recognizable faces are Tyler James Williams from “Everybody Hates Chris” as a fellow group member and John Cho of “Harold and Kumar” as a network associate. This show could have potential to be entertaining, but this uneven episode doesn’t suggest great things.

How will it work as a series? After voluntarily returning to the group, Ryan will no longer be confined to finishing ten sessions. That said, the show is still about him, so it’s unlikely that the other group members will get much of a chance to shine (unlike, say, Starz’s “Gravity,” on which that device worked exceptionally well). The appearance of Terrell Owens in the pilot indicates that more sports stuff will be worked into the show, which can be good or bad depending on your enthusiasm for such things.
How long will it last? The ratings after the Olympics aren’t terribly useful for predicting its future. This show isn’t airing on Thursday nights, which used to be where NBC shows went for ratings, but being on after “The Voice” and on Perry’s original network couldn’t help. I think NBC will want to try this one out, but I wouldn’t expect it to make it past one season once this show returns in September.

Pilot grade: C+

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