Go On Season 1 Review “Pass Interference”

One of the great (and most likely terrifying) things about making network television is the messy nature of it. Shows are not filmed entirely ahead of time. Adjustments can be made midstream if characters or story arcs aren’t being effective. Ineffective shows can make tweaks in a last ditch effort to save itself from cancellation. Popular shows can quickly remove characters that cause fans to have a miniature internet riot (I’m looking at you, The Good Wife). These shifts in story arc or enhanced character development aren’t always successful, but plenty of shows have taken the opportunity to write themselves out of corners as the season progresses.

The opportunity to make adjustments is always available, but what if you are supposed to be the new network standard bearer for comedy and your ratings are tanking? If that sounds familiar, then you must work in some capacity on Go On. Go On has vacillated from mediocre to above-average throughout its freshman season. While the show continued to try to find itself, it absolutely hemorrhaged viewers. Despite the massive decrease in viewership (seriously, it’s not good), NBC’s decision to sing its praises as the broad type of comedy that would lure more eyeballs to the peacock. At the time, we had to take them at their word. They do peacock comedy.

Unfortunately, a promising start has turned into a fairly depressing winter swoon for the show. With ratings sagging, it’s hard not to look at some of the tonal shifts and not think they are being made in an attempt to draw more eyeballs (Hey! Look, it’s Piper Perabo!). Ryan’s “relationship” with Simone seems like a pretty strong move regardless of whether he has the blessing of his dead wife. The scenes between Janey and Ryan continue to be hit and miss. When they are trying to strike an emotional beat, the moment works well. However, the attempts at quirky humor often fall flat. Muted humor works well, but Ryan making Chandler noises as he opens closets in his hotel room seems silly and trivializes the fact that the specter of his dead wife appears to him on occasion. When they strike the tone right, it’s great. When they’re manic, the husband-wife scenes always fall short.

Also, can we agree that episode 14 may be too soon to start throwing callback jokes? Callback jokes are a lot of fun when they’re earned. Many established sitcoms fire away with jokes that harken back to previous seasons. That being said, episode 14 of season 1 isn’t the time to do it. Yes, Lauren is a horrible group leader (that’s a separate issue), but those jokes haven’t been earned. Instead of laughing at the joke, I find myself wondering why these people would say these things to her. Obviously, she’s incredibly unhelpful. Therefore, they must stay because they feel a since of kinship with her. If that’s the case, then the piling on seems unnecessary. Leave the pile-ons to Happy Endings.

Despite the ratings tank job, Go On is highly likely to be back next season. NBC has too much invested into the show. Its cancellation would basically have come with a handwritten letter of apology to the people at Community. Since NBC obviously hates those guys, it’s safe to say Go On‘s cancellation isn’t going to happen. With that kind of freedom, it’s important for the show to be patient. Unless the change in tone results in more viewers, standing pat is usually the best decision. You never know what can happen in season two. If Lauren can be a capable group leader on occasion, than anything is possible.