Wednesday, 26 September 2012
Go On - The best new sitcom in ages!
Go on is the story of a high profile sports journalist with his own radio show who is trying to get over the sudden death of his wife.
He's forced into therapy with a loss group who gather to share their pain and work through their grief.
Who was the executive who saw through that pitch and let this one get to second base, let alone all the way home? Whoever you are - we thank you.
The thing I like most about GO ON is that I don't know what to expect. There's a thing called inevitable forseeablility that most shows, especially comedies, trade on. It's where the audience can see where a story is headed, or an outcome that is promised by a setup and they watch with delight for what they expected to be paid off. If it's not paid off it needs to be topped or an audience will actually turn away and feel let down.
Go On has no inevitable forseeability because it has placed brackets around a moment in a man's life and told us - "We're staying here until this problem gets fixed and we don't know how long that's going to be."
This is unusual and fresh - especially for a sitcom. What's the arc in these characters lives that we settle down to enjoy - who knows? Until they successfully complete therapy they have no life. Life is being run as a subplot and is on autopilot until this priority issue is solved. These characters have grief to work through and if they can they'll resume a life we're not really focussing on at the moment. Wow! Talk about leaving yourself room to move.
But here's what I find most interesting. Go On works because of the writing and the characters. It is a similar in set up to Seinfield except, instead of the central characters being hardened by life and oblivious to the double standards they're leading, these people are broken by life and seem to be on a journey to relearn what it means to feel hope, joy and contentment with what they have. It's a feel good sitcom. It's Modern Family without the cynical dig at the modern middle class.
Go On bucks the trend of the harsh misanthrope who has their friends and their life but won't open themselves to life any further - Larry David, Ron Swanson and many others. Ryan King could so easily be another, instead he's full of life, charm, heart and hope as he tries to overcome the loss of the one person he loved in his life - his wife.
This is a bold concept that plays out in clear and simple lines. I have to mention Mathew Perry who is wonderful and amplifies what we all already knew - that he is a great comedic actor. He played a young lawyer in The West Wing in the later seasons and while he was good, there was always a cheeky intelligence about him. He has something in him that makes you search every line he delivers to make sure his very dry humour and delivery hasn't woven in an unnoticed zinger.
In Go On he made me laugh out loud more than once. This was the first time in a long time a show had done this and each time it came from a Ryan King/Mathew Perry reaction. That's not to say the writing isn't funny in itself - it is, but the subtleties of Go On delivered by an odd assortment of broken characters is what will give this multiple seasons.
If you like great characters and you like shows that just make you feel good, then join the Go On fan base. I suspect it's going to be a big one.
Out of 5 - Go On gets a solid 4.5 and joins my 'not to be missed list.