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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Go On: “Comeback Player Of The Year”

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I find that every week when it comes time to write my Go On review, I end up staring at a blank document for a while, head cocked to one side. It’s not that it’s good—or bad—it’s really that I rarely have much of an opinion about an episode. The show is setting the bar low, and reaching it only sometimes, which means there are only so many things one can really say. So when I say that I unequivocally enjoyed this week’s Go On, I hope you can appreciate how strange that is for me. This show is always going to be uneven, but this is another strong episode that speaks to its strengths.

This is the week where Matthew Perry finally got to play to his strengths. I am unlikely going to be able to get behind Ryan King as a character—he’s too implausibly outside Perry’s range—but I will always be behind Chandler Bing. I don’t love everything about Matthew Perry, but he plays the adorable, slightly sheepish infatuated guy so well. And so what we get tonight is another installment of the never-ending saga of Chandler Bing, all-around cute loser, as he falls for totally the wrong girl and then gets caught with her in an embarrassing situation. I was thrilled to see Ryan express his feelings, like, in a real way, through a conversation! (That’s so Bing!!)

As far as the overarching plot goes, I really don’t like this revolving cast of women romantically attached to Ryan, because each one diminishes the narrative impact of all the others. But for this episode alone, it all kind of works. Of course Piper Perabo plays a slightly insane but loveable character named Simone—of course Ryan complains about her—of course he then falls hard for her. As an isolated arc, it works almost perfectly. I’m a little confused as to how it can go anywhere, or how it integrates into what we already know about Ryan, but who cares, the show must GO ON! (Harharhar.)

But the reason this episode truly shines is because Julie White essentially steals first-bill from right under Perry’s nose. She doesn’t make a solid play for it until after the first commercial break, but then she really comes out swinging. Sonia persuades Anne to help Danny with his divorce lawsuit (because Sonia has a crush on Danny! Hooray, continuity!), so Julie White has the opportunity to take center stage with a few fun lawyerly gags and the added benefit of being able to bounce off of Seth Morris. In the episode’s emotional climax—and yeah, there’s an actual emotional climax!—Anne rushes into the support group yelling that Danny’s going to get more from his wife, and morphs it beautifully (and tragically) into a grief breakdown, finally expressing her anger over the fact that her partner didn’t take her heart medication enough to prevent her sudden death.

It’s not just that the scene is well-acted—though it is—it’s also that the scene exists at all. Go On has been very, very careful to avoid true expressions of grief, even from (especially from!) its main character. Anne’s emotional outburst is the first time a scene that plays on pathos feels like it lands—probably because it’s the first pathetic scene that even tries to get somewhere.

From a storytelling perspective, Anne’s character arc ties together nicely with Danny, who she’s helping, and Simone, who she has a crush on, and Sonia, who has a crush on Danny, and Lauren, whose job it is to try to get her to get over things. Simone ties it to Ryan (sexily), so of course in the final scene, as Anne tries to confront the bed she used to share with her partner (with the support group arrayed behind her, in typical support group codependency style), she walks in on Simone and Ryan, post-coitus. It’s the type of visual sight gag that is always at least a little funny, but because of the multiple storylines that are crashing down all at the same time, it feels earned, and that is a big problem that Go On has been dealing with.


I wonder if all this lovely maturation is happening because this happens to be an episode that was planned many moons ago, picking up the cast and themes introduced in the pilot. Go On’s major problem has been slightly nearsighted, lazy writing, but this episode didn’t suffer from those qualities—maybe because it’s been in the works for a while. But my real guess is that Perabo has signed up for more than just one episode, so the writers had to entertain the idea of continuity, for the time being. Given how this episode ended, I think we need some closure on wacky old Simone. I hope she is back next week to continue to shake things up. I’m not sure why I’m asking for yet another character when Go On is stuffed to the brim with characters it’s not using. But if she’s making this magic happen, I don’t want to mess with the mojo.

Stray observations:

  • Mr. “Benjamin” K made me laugh out loud every time he was onscreen in “Comeback Player Of The Year.” I love him, I can’t help it. The upside-down car gag worked for me both times. And the crazy whiteboard on radio audiences is incredible. “CHARLIE BIT MY FINGER!”
  • RELATED: Which do you think is more likely: That Go On’s writers are reading my reviews and implementing my suggestions? Or that i’m slowly losing my mind?
  • Owen and Blind George are back! Yay!
  • Poor John Cho never has enough to do.
  • “This group does not do well with metaphors.” Go On, in a nutshell.
  • Terrell Owens, honestly, is one of the better guest stars the show has featured. He’s not really a bad actor at all, and he has good timing! Somehow I found it more believable when he and Steven and Mr. K decide to prank Ryan than pretty much anything Fausta says in any episode.
  • “More importantly, can I come to an execution?”