Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Go on - and on an on. Review update

I'm now at episode six and while I'm still enjoying this new Mathew Perry sitcom - I'm starting to suspect it should have been a movie and not a series. The ending of the movie would have come at the end of the episode with the fountain in the back yard.

After that you get a very strong sense, that the unusual and extraordinary aspect of the series, that it's  about characters in hiatus trying to solve problems before moving on with their lives, may be the very reason why it suddenly and so quickly feels stale.

We're back in therapy and opening out the characters in therapy, exploring and introducing new aspects of their lives, and I can't help feeling disappointed. Not because these characters aren't interesting, but the direction breaks the promise set up at the beginning of the series. A promise that seemed hollow to me and yet worked so well through the first few episodes - that was the very reason I was excited by this show. How would the writers and producers deliver on the promise of entertaining, surprising and generating laughs out of nothing and keep me interested?

By episode 6 the episode focus is on Ryan's grief eating and the feel good warmth of the group feels empty because the subject is banal and trivial. This is a subplot at best. Ryan's wife died and he's eating too much - shoot me for being insensitive but eating doughnuts for a while, looking as FAT as Mathew Perry, just doesn't resonate as something to be overly concerned about, especially when it suddenly appears without ever being set up in earlier episodes. So he binged for a week - Meh!

Will Go On will go on? It would do well to look at Breaking Bad and take notes. Breaking Bad hit the end of its driving journey a number of times and rather than continuing to bash away and find new wrinkles in the same folds, it backed the truck out and took a new direction.And it did this brilliantly and believably.

First was the drugs for cancer plot - then Walter White and Jesse as pawns in the pocket of the big drug cartel - then they were forced to outplay the cartel and introduce the growing Heisenberg myth as the new druglord - the Kysa Suze of the City. Finally they left us with Walter's retirement, then the carrot to sell into an overseas market with what seemed like the perfect solution that is ruined when the DEA brother in law finds the clue to WW's identity. That's 4 separate concepts in 5 seasons. People will berate them for simply changing decks when things slowed, but to me it's been great prime time storytelling.

Go On needs to find a direction. The characters are great, the therapy group as an odd ensemble of characters are great - but we need a story that keeps us feeling, laughing and wanting more from them all. I'd be going for the sports DJ element. Great and unexpected success due to grief and while dealing with a crumbling personal life is interesting to everyone - and success being enjoyed at great personal expense seems to be tolerated far better than straight out success.

So go on Go On! Give us a kink, a twist, an unexpected turn. You know you want to!

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