With sharp writing and huge potential for great characters, NBC's pilot for the new Matthew Perry series Go On is surprisingly great. After the entire first episode aired following last night's Olympics coverage, the show officially premieres Tuesday, September 11 at 9 p.m.
Straight to the Point
The fast-paced comedy kicks off with Ryan King (Perry) returning to his job as a popular radio sportscaster after time spent on personal leave. Too bad his boss (John Cho) doesn't think he's ready to come back and sends Ryan off for 10 sessions at Transitions, a support group for people going through difficult life changes. Only a minute or two into the show and we're off and running -- smart move.
The Grief Olympics
The down-in-the-dumps tone of the Transitions group really bums Ryan out, so he decides to inject a little life into the gang by creating a game where two members compete to determine whose story is most tragic. Okay Go On, you've got my attention: this is a quick and clever way to introduce each quirky character and deliver some solid dark humor along the way. And how great is the wonderful Bill Cobbs as George, the blind man with a shopping list of physical problems?
Ryan's game is foiled by gorgeous group leader Lauren (Laura Benanti, establishing an obvious future love interest), who steers the gang into one-on-one grieving exercises. Ryan makes it obvious that he's compensating for his loss with his quick wits, and when he walks out on Transitions, Lauren tells him that if he doesn't let it out he's going to explode. Wow, such wise words coming from an ex-Weight Watchers consultant!
The Fruiting of Terrell Owens
After returning to work, Ryan proves Lauren right by exploding on Terrell Owens for texting and driving. And by "exploding," I mean hurling fruit at his windshield. Which leads to Ryan's return to Transitions and his tragic confession: he lost his wife to a car accident while she was texting at the wheel. Unwilling to cap the show off on this tearjerking note, Ryan spots a Google camera car outside and the entire group chases it wearing medieval gear to spice up the Google Map street images.
Perry seems to be at the top of his game here and with its seamless blend of bonkers humor and poignant moments, Go On could easily shape up to be the next Community. Do you think the premise can last as a series or will the show crash and burn several episodes out of the gate?
"The Olympics? They've gotten too foreign. Did he just say that? He did just say that!"
-- Ryan on his new, edgy opinions.
"Why do I feel like your life change involves wearing a suit of other people's skin?"
-- Ryan to the creepy quiet bearded man in the group (Brett Gelman).
"I heard 'muertos,' and I think the words for 'mother,' 'brother' and 'slippers.' We have a winner!"
-- Ryan, ranking Fausta's (Tonita Castro) personal tragic story, which she tells entirely in Spanish.
"They flew us places to give us peaches!"
-- Lauren describing the wonders of Weight Watchers.
"That's a shameful waste of fruit!"
-- Terrell Owens on Ryan throwing fruit at his car.