Go On (Tuesdays @ 9:00 pm NBC)
Matthew Perry hasn't been the luckiest of actors since Friends ended nearly a decade ago. He starred in the NBC drama Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip in 2006. That Aaron Sorkin produced show only last for one season. A couple of years ago he starred in ABC's Mr. Sunshine. That half-hour comedy only lasted for 13 episodes. For the 2012-13 TV season NBC and Matthew Perry are making one more attempt at bringing back that old Friends magic with the group therapy comedy Go On.
Like The New Normal that aired after it, NBC had already previewed the Go On pilot prior to the official Tuesday night premiere. The preview of the pilot was first broadcast in a post-Olympics spot on August 8th. The show attained a robust sample viewing audience of over 15 million viewers. The pilot was re-broadcast on Monday night. After seeing the first episode, I was willing to give the show another shot. It will be interesting to find out how many people decided to do the same (the ratings for last night will be posted this afternoon).
My initial reaction to Go On is one of apathy. There is a slightly, goofy charm surrounding the sitcom's environment but we haven't really gotten to know the ensemble cast yet. The problem may be that the show is struggling to find coherence among a divided ensemble. Ryan King (Matthew Perry), the protagonist. has his own sports talk radio program. Ryan is also recovering from the death of his wife and attends group therapy to help him through his loss. There are supporting characters at both the job and group therapy. Having two settings, with two sets of characters, on a show that lasts 22 minutes may be a little too much to ask for.
Some critics have compared Go On to Community. In setup anyway. The male lead of both shows is forced to lead a group of diverse misfits while trying to move on with his own life. In Go On's case, the man is trying to get over the death of his wife (a rather dour subject for a comedy to deal with). For Community, Jeff Winger (Joel Mchale) is trying to earn a real law degree after being found out that he was a fraud. Jeff no longer has a job. Therefore, we only see the Greendale Community College aspect of his life. We see the study group but not any co-workers. Go On has Ryan dealing with both groups. And it finds itself trying to manage a frenetic pace because of the two settings.
One of the subplots of "He Got Game, She Got Cats" involved Ryan overworking his assistant Carrie (Allison Miller) because he didn't want to go home after work and be reminded of his deceased wife. This story was resolved at the halfway point before the subplots involving two of the group therapy members began. The episode got its title from those subplots (one involving Sonia [Sarah Baker]with her cats and the other George [Bill Cobbs] and his missing basketball).
Remarkably, those three actors are all part of the "Recurring Cast." They are not technically series regulars. It's difficult to believe that after watching this particular installment. Some of those listed as series regulars or part of the "Main Cast" have barely been on screen in the first two episodes. Of course, you can only show so much in 21 or 22 minutes. Too many characters could hinder the audience from getting to know any of them. And that will be a real problem for Go On moving forward.