Friday, November 23, 2012

Go On Episode Review: Dinner Takes All

Go On has its moments as a Steven-Carrie-Ryan show and its moments as a Ryan-and-the-group show but for a number of reasons (logistical, for one), merging them together usually feels forced. This Thanksgiving-themed episode was a good case in point of that awkwardness. That Ryan's group members would ditch their established plans to have Thanksgiving at Ryan's radio station stretches believability just a little. That Carrie would skip Thanksgiving with her family to participate in a hair-brained (not to mention, immature) scheme by her boss, when an entire episode resolved with the pair establishing such boundaries, stretches believability just a little more AND negates some of the growth the characters have made to date.

The main Ryan-centered plot is that Ryan and Steven reunite with an old friend (Lauren Graham) who Steven begins to crush on. Ryan, attempting to be a good friend, initially throws his backing behind Steven and agrees to be his wingman. Cue Act II:  Ryan changes his mind and wants Lauren Graham and while he's not ready to date yet, he doesn't want Steven to have her. Ryan's long been a bit egotistical and we're supposed to understand that goes with the territory of being a famous radio personality (and also goes with the territory of being played by Matthew Perry), but I had a problem with the show's lack of awareness that this was not a good thing Ryan was doing. Especially since he shared his plan with the group, and Lauren didn't even step in and say this might be unhealthy.

Still, while the episode's premise was a little shaky, it wasn't a half hour that was entirely devoid of enjoyment. In terms of character growth, Steven and Ryan had some good moments together and it's significant progress that Ryan is ready to start thinking about dating.

The group is also gelling together and those character quirks-Yolanda suddenly interjecting her loyalty to someone, Lauren awkwardly backtracking after overstepping her bounds, etc.- are starting to get more comic mileage as the traits become more recognizably associated with the characters. I especially liked the shared moment between Owen and Yolanda as they both related to each other as children of tiger moms who played string instruments (which isn't a thing, by the way, but I bought that it COULD be a thing in-universe).

The ensemble is easy to enjoy from the perspective that there's no show on TV where random people are connected by nothing but a common emotional denominator: loss. There's a certain chemistry between the characters and a bittersweet tone to the characters that sets this show apart but I could still use a little more humor. From a comedy standpoint, the show had exactly one scene that worked tremendously: The made-up unique Ryan and Steven engaged in their own unique drinking game. Whether that's enough to overcome a somewhat low joke-per-minute ratio is still up in the air.
Random thoughts:

-Ryan's voiceovers are corny. I'd even rank "Modern Family" above "Go On" when it comes to schmaltzy voiceovers to close out the episode

-I've heard the argument that Go On isn't that unique when you consider "Community" is still on the air and I've heard the comparisons (Personally, I don't like "Community" anymore but I digress). It's worth noting that Community stopped being about a group of involuntary study buddies after the first season. It was then that they consciously chose to take the same class. It also didn't really matter if they were taking the same class: The characters also basically just decided to be a gang. It will be interesting to see how Go On handles this dilemma of voluntary separation.

-Owen has been a bit oscillating between shy and confident.

-If I'm not mistaken, Lauren Graham is good friends with Matthew Perry and confessed to having a crush on him on "The Ellen Show". I know Ellen makes her stars do crazy things, but art imitating life?

-The New York Times had an infographic on the Fall Season's breakout characters last week and Brett Gelman's Mr K was on there. Am I the only one who finds him somewhat limited? Playing creepy-crazy doesn't take that much effort. I much prefer Julie White as whip-smart curmedgeon Anne.

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