I’m a sucker for comedies that try to tug at your heartstrings. The ones that make you laugh, then, well, sucker punch you right in the emotional gut.
NBC’s Go On appears to be aiming to be that kind of series. Matthew Perry stars as radio sportscaster Ryan King. His boss (John Cho) requires him to join a grief support group after the death of his wife before he can return to work.
Ryan doesn’t feel like he needs it and when he goes to one of the sessions, is definitely sure he doesn’t need to be around the group of, interesting characters, nor does he need the depressing methods of the group leader Lauren (Laura Benanti).
At the first session, Lauren is running late and Ryan decides to at least liven things up a bit by playing a March Madness tournament of sorts, pitting each group members’ sad story against one another to find out who’s got it the worst. It actually allows the group to open up about their tragedies, but have a load of fun while doing it. That definitely doesn’t sit well with Lauren.
All Ryan cares about though is getting his form signed by her so he can get back to work. But it’s Terrell Owens of all people that helps Ryan take that step to admitting that maybe he’s not even begun t move on from his wife’s death yet.
The first episode flies by quickly and they don’t waste any time trying to poke at your heartstrings while engaging in a little dark humor. It’s definitely not morbid or depressing stuff, but more of trying to find something light in death and betrayal and everyday personal troubles.
But Go On is actually more like the kinds of comedies NBC has attempted for years that just couldn’t catch on. Probably because NBC’s comedy brand the last couple of years, as exemplified by its low-rated, critically acclaimed Thursday comedies as satirical and snarky.
Now, Go On definitely had some genuine laugh out loud moments, but it’s the kind of comedy which, if laughtracked, would not have very many cues for the canned laughter. Go On is the kind of comedy series that doesn’t mine for laughs every other second, instead working to keep a smile on your face for 29 minutes, building up to that satisfying ending week after week.
The group of oddballs in the support group need to be developed stronger to really make the series a true ensemble. But a few of the characters so far have shown that the show can have a lot of heart if it can go a little deeper. The final scene of the episode, at the very least its tone, is something that should be expected in upcoming episodes.
Matthew Perry can definitely carry a show and he does a great job here, bringing energy but also giving the believable performance of a grieving husband. You get a good sense of his character, which is a credit to both him and the writing which I hope will also show up for the rest of the cast.
Overall, Go On is a solid premise with lots of potential that can hopefully be realized while it has a chance.