Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Go On "Win At All Costas" Review

"Win At All Costas" seemed like Go On wanted to play a dangerous game with the viewer. Bob Costas' 'Hi, I'm Bob Costas' recording got repeated a dozen times before the trailer, and even remixed. Fausta has had less time of spoken dialogue than Bob Costas had in three minutes. Rich Eisen's cameo came out of nowhere. For a second, I had flashes of the Ryan surrounded by the NFL Network crew AND the NBC Football Night in America Crew. My flash consisted of well-paid men laughing uproariously at absolutely nothing, and tossing a football around. The promotions for Bob Costas' appearance were terrifying. TV shows shouldn't toss out their identity for the sake of a big name guest star. Costas needed to fit in with the show more than the show needed to fit in with Costas.

Bob Costas did quite well as himself on Go On. Ryan's boyhood broadcast hero was none other than Bob Costas. Bob's message repeats throughout the teaser/cold open because Ryan's amazed his boyhood broadcast hero left him a message that addressed him by name. The effect of the repeating message adds a surreal quality to the Bob Costas appearance. "Hi, I'm Bob Costas" is part of the Bob Costas brand. For decades, whenever he appears on screen, he introduces himself, or, rather, confirms that he is Bob Costas. Of course he's Bob Costas. Who else would he be? Costas is the definitive voice of sports journalism. He can monologue about the need for gun control in the United States and then travel to MLB Network to tape a 90 minute feature on the 1967 pennant race. Costas is sort of mythic, and he's appropriately mythic in Ryan's eyes.

Ryan admires Costas for his voice and broadcast dominance. Costas acknowledgement of not only Ryan's existence but also his profession as a broadcast sports journalist and radio personality cements Ryan's idea that he's made it. Costas invited Ryan on his new TV show to talk about sports. Ryan needs to overcome his fear of television following a horrible appearance on Rich Eisen's show some years before. Eisen and Ryan comfortably discussed American sports until Eisen pulled a fast one and changed the subject to soccer. Ryan froze and the video became a viral classic. Ryan appears on Eisen's show again. Again, Eisen turns the subject to soccer, which Ryan fails to make a point against but he knew the name of a team and one of its players; therefore, it's success for Go On. (I assume the writers learned all they know about soccer during the Olympics which would explain the name drop of Micah Richards.)

The Bob Costas show within in the show was really done well. Costas definitely plays himself as a quirky odd ball, one who determines another's character through the strength of a handshake, and who introduces himself to everyone even though it's his show they're working on. Mr. K accompanied Ryan to the show because his new life's work is replacing Janie. Mr. K worked on the arm of the Curiosity. With that complete, he felt empty; but being Janie helped fill the void in his and Ryan's life. Mr. K and Costas have a conversation. Mr. K's oblivious to Costas and inquires about the man's profession. Costas has felt strung out and bored by the incessant sports chatter his job demands. Costas wishes to discuss philosophy, art, and mathematics. Ryan walks into a segment about ancient mathematicians, the differences between Monet and Manet, and fails.

Bob Costas' sudden turn doesn't really matter. All of the time spent on Costas is sort of wasteful. What happens on the show is more about the Mr. K/Ryan story than Bob Costas. Costas is amusing, but he's inconsequential really. I just finished D.T. Max's David Foster Wallace biography, so I'm thinking if Go On wrote Costas like DFW wrote Alex Trebek or Pat Sajek, it'd be a bit more satisfying; like, if the writers focused more on Costas' significance as a cultural icon or something it'd be substantive. I don't know. Mr. K's blamed by Ryan for shifting Costas' focus. Ryan doesn't need a Janie. It's really amazing Ryan tolerates Mr. K's Janie-ness for so long. Go On continues to walk the line of tonal balance. Mr. K's an extreme character. He's either loud or quiet. The story comes from Mr. K's obsession with Ryan, though.

The therapy group, meanwhile, gathered for Fausta's niece's 15th birthday party. The conflict of the evening came from Fausta's exclusion of Anne. Anne's the sad and depressive person in the group. Fausta didn't want her niece's party to be sad and depressive. Anne crashes anyway and sits at an empty table, which she later learns is empty out of reverence and remembrance for Fausta's husband, son, and two daughters, who all were taken from her. I've written about Go On's ability to punch the viewer in the gut with sadness, but damn. Anne's eyes welled up and she walked to Fausta to apologize for being a bitch and failing to recognize Fausta's loss. Fausta forgives, and she tells Anne her empty table is being filled by the group, a new kind of family. The writing and the acting is incredibly well-done. It's just a moving scene. Two characters connect in a new way because of their separate tragedy. It's a bond that transcends and heals.

I welcomed the return of Go On tonight. The show is infectious in the way a top 40 pop song is. At first you may resist it because it's generic and like any other pop 40 song you heard, but something starts to stand out and then you're humming it and then singing it. So, yeah, I like Go On. The show needs to integrate guest starts a bit better, though. Costas' appearance was, in the end, clunky.

Other Thoughts:

-Ryan's breakdown of Manchester City was the worst piece of writing on Go On yet. Ryan used Micah Richards' return as the reason the underdog Man City would win the Premier League. Man City are defending champions, Richards hasn't figured into the lineup at all since early 2012, and Ya Ya Toure is, by far, the most important player on the team.

-The revelation that Ryan's stupid wasn't a surprise. Ryan's the stereotypical sports guy. His usage of 'literally' delighted me. I've known people who've misused other words. One day in July, a couple of years ago, a friend's girlfriend kept misusing 'logical' when commenting on a friend of mine's behavior.

-Sonia and Danny's relationship wasn't mentioned nor alluded to. I doubt it's over. Go On's a show that'll bring back plot threads when one least expects them.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.