Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.
The Show: Go On, NBC, Tuesdays at 9/8c
The Pedigree: Go On was created (and the pilot written) by Scott SIlveri of Friends, and the pilot was directed by Todd Holland (The Larry Sanders Show, Malcolm in the Middle).
The Cast & How You Know Them: Star Matthew Perry, of course, you know from Friends (and Studio 60, The West Wing, Mr. Sunshine, The Good Wife, etc.). Other regulars include Broadway star Laura Benanti (The Playboy Club), John Cho (Star Trek, FlashForward), Julie White (Transformers), Brett Gelman (Eagleheart), Suzy Nakamura (The West Wing, Help Me Help You), and Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris).
The Premise: Popular sports radio host Ryan King is forced to attend a “transitions” support group after his wife’s sudden death. He’s reluctant because he just wants to move on with his life, but soon realizes he hasn’t processed his grief.
What Works: This pilot was thoroughly enjoyable – the writing and acting are good, the jokes are funny, and Matt Perry is an appealing lead. I loved that one of the widows in the group had been in a same-sex relationship and this was presented subtly and naturally, not as a big deal. This was solidly in “like” territory for me for most of the episode, and then something so unexpectedly touching (but still funny) happened at the end that it nudged me over to “love.”
What Doesn’t: Some of the characters are sketched broadly, but that’s to be expected in a pilot, so hopefully it will improve. And so far, the support group is much more compelling than the scenes set at Ryan’s workplace, so we’ll have to see how that balance shakes out.
Our Favorite Line: “Humans compete. We like ranking. The Dodgers are in fourth place. Back in Black is the third-highest selling album of all time. Bradley Cooper’s the Sexiest Man Alive, because apparently People Magazine has never heard of a Mr. Ryan Gosling.”
You Might Like This if you like slightly offbeat comedies about groups of very different people forced to bond, like Community. Or, of course, if you like Matt Perry – he seems to be playing another version of his usual character here, which, frankly, is just fine with me.
If You’re Interested: You can watch the pilot embedded above, on the NBC site, or tonight at 10/9c on NBC. The regular season starts on September 11th.
(Photo courtesy of NBC.)