Unexpectedly, Terrell Owens is turning out to be an excellent addition to Go On—maybe even its best cast member. For one thing, he’s got great comedic timing. I am not sure if he’s acting as anyone except himself, but he plays off of everyone well, and delivers punchlines without ever entirely stealing the show. He and Carrie, in particular, have great comedic chemistry. They only share one line of dialogue in “Go Deep” but it’s easily one of the funniest. (“Mmm, yes, we are often mistaken for each other.” “Sarcasm: It’s funny, but at what cost?”)
Overall this is a strong episode of Go On—in some places, very strong. Owens singing falsetto (and playing at being Ryan’s assistant) lifts up Ryan’s plotline, and the B-plot with Lauren, Yolanda, and Blind George is in fact very funny. Ryan brings Simone to his workplace to impress her and gets a little carried away—he quits his job in mock indignation and the two go to a meditation retreat (accompanied by Mr. K, because, why not). Meanwhile Lauren gets a bad evaluation, and the minor failure sends her into a miniature tailspin that turns into an amateur detective caper. If the latter sounds way more interesting than the former, that’s because it is; Laura Benanti is great as the good-hearted neurotic, willing to go a little far (but not too far) in the service of her perfectionism. She and Suzy Nakamura have found an on-screen dynamic that works well. Add a few brief moments with Julie White’s Anne or Sarah Baker’s Sonia and the result is so many snappy punchlines that I had to rewind a few times to get them all.
I noticed in this episode that Ryan, Simone, and Mr. K have a little bit of difficulty holding up the plot on their own at the enlightenment center. My guess is because the humor there largely derives from the external environment, and I don’t find the meditation center particularly funny. The detective caper, meanwhile, is about investigating the other members of the group—it’s both plot and characterization, if in an oblique way. The investigation is so ludicrous that the mock-serious tone throws everyone’s neuroses into sharper relief—and then of course, in the resolution of the mystery, Yolanda herself is the one who feels that she’s been ignored, because Ryan is too much of a drain on Lauren’s time. The shadowy montage, punctuated with black-and-white stills, in which Blind George deduces the case and strongarms Sonia into confessing the true perpetrator? Hilarious. Blind George is the best (and he used to be a detective, in case you missed that).
The meditation plotline doesn’t really ground until Ryan brings it back to the group—which is encouraging, because the group is the only thing that sticks around every episode. The resolution is a bit too pat—Ryan doesn’t so much learn as he does listen—but it makes his blustery radio voice at the end a bit more believable, to know that Ryan is the type of guy who may never quite learn anything but is willing to trust smarter people around him.
It’s interesting that “Go Deep”’s resolution is about ignoring Ryan a little bit more—Ryan’s been the weak link in the cast for a while, even though Matthew Perry has co-producing credit. But in this episode I accepted the character much more. For once, Ryan is the blowhard he’s always claimed to be—ordering Carrie around to fix up his life, bragging insufferably to Simone, making an idiot of himself at meditation, and interrupting everyone else’s problems with his own. He does learn a lesson, but “Go Deep” doesn’t try to hard to redeem him as a character, which I appreciate. It makes the whole story easier to enjoy.
Going forward, it seems like Go On’s major issue is going to be major plot arcs. They’ve managed to get the hang of making individual moments funny—but their week-to-week stories are not that compelling. The zany and unpredictable is where they’re finding their stride. It would be great to see full episode story arcs that were as wild as the caper subplot.
Ultimately I’m not sure anyone actually gets “deep” in “Go Deep,” but the humor is good, and I can see this developing in great ways for Go On. This will be my last review of Go On for a while—we’re dropping regular coverage for now. I’m happy to do it with an episode that in my mind, at least, corresponds to something with an uptick in quality.
- Anne’s evaluation of Lauren: “Is always very helps.”
- “I feel as if we should make love.” “No.” “Okay.”
- “Ryan, why would a man call himself the Big Cheese?”
- “You think Ryan is deep? Are you so pretty that I didn’t realize you’re dumb?”
- “While we’re here, I’d like to catch up on the Zodiac killings. Where was Danny in the 1970s?”
- “….the women’s alternative rock scene.” “Aw, BLECH!”
- “Wow, Anne. You’re deep.” “And crazy hot.”
- I’d like to think I’m an Anne, but really, I’m a Yolanda. What about you?
- This is just an update, 16 episodes in, that Go On is still not called Goon, despite my strident objections.