Stars: Matthew Perry, Laura Benanti, Julie White, John Cho
Writer: Scott Silveri, series created by Scott Silveri
Director: Todd Holland
Network: NBC, Tuesdays
Original Airdate: August 8, 2012
As Los Angeles Times reviewer Mary McNamara just observed, television has done very well with both psychotherapy (FRASIER, THE BOB NEWHART SHOW) and Matthew Perry (FRIENDS) in the half-hour comedy genre. Putting the two together seems like a good idea. The first twist in GO ON is that Perry’s character, snarky and closed-off radio sportscaster Ryan, is a patient rather than the therapist, which works very well.
When we meet Ryan, his wife has died recently, but he insists on going on as if nothing is wrong. However, it’s obvious to everyone around him that plenty is wrong and finally Ryan’s boss and friend (John Cho) mandates that Ryan attend some sort of therapy. Ryan finds a group therapy session being run out of a community center, and proceeds to hijack the group, which makes the session livelier, even if it doesn’t address Ryan’s problems. However, group leader Lauren (Laura Benanti) insists on getting things back to normal. Lauren has some issues of her own, but her observations about Ryan are on the mark. The latter portion of the GO ON pilot deals with how the two reach détente, at least for now.
Perry has a gift for sarcasm, which GO ON utilizes well. At first, with Perry as the lead, it looks as though the show itself may be as abrasive as the character, but the therapy group has both whimsy and heart, so that series creator Scott Silveri’s script, directed by Todd Holland, winds up feeling balanced.
The big worry at first is that therapy itself is going to be dismissed, but Silveri is fairly deft at giving equal weight to Ryan’s discomfort and the benefits of human sympathy and solace, allowing characters to have actual feelings without mockery, yet finding humor in the overall situation. Silveri also mines unexpected laughs from the fact that the community center hosts other groups as well, leading to a delightful climax.
Perry seems very much in his element here and Benanti, a Broadway star late of NBC’s PLAYBOY CLUB, has grace and comedic bluster as a healer who could use some healing herself. Cho provides Perry with a snappy, confident workplace foil and Julie White is strong as a member of the therapy group.
With only one episode – NBC aired the pilot in advance of GO ON’s official Sept. 11 start date – it’s not entirely clear how the series will evolve, but based on what we have so far, it’s off to a good start.
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Article: TV Review – GO ON – Season 1 – “Pilot”