Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Go On "Any Given Birthday" Review

The first birthday after the death of a loved one, like a parent or a husband or wife or sibling, is very difficult. The loss group worries about Ryan as his birthday approaches and he's faced with celebrating alone for the first time without his loving and doting wife, Janie. Ryan insists the birthday isn't a big deal. Janie made the day into a headache of activity when all Ryan wanted to do was relax and forget he was supposed to celebrate his birth. The loss group wants to treat Ryan to a scavenger hunt based on his life. They aim to fill his life with adventurous fun and support. Ryan reacts like he always does, which becomes a problem and then a resolution followed by a lesson being learned.

"Any Given Birthday" is similar to the previous episodes. Ryan's stand-offish and uninterested in group events. The group's one hundred percent committed to their wacky idea. The silly bits are sort of balanced with the genuine bits of humanity: human compassion and sadness, namely. The scavenger hunt is a nice way for the other characters to stand out. I have a miserable time remembering who is who on Go On. The loss group characters blend together to the point I forget who spent quality time with Ryan versus those who didn't, and who's amusingly abrasive and who's amusingly bizarre. The entire loss group got their own chance to shine, except for the absent George. Mr. K got the most character development. The one-note bearded wacko who caresses his beard during stuffed animal playacting is an enthusiastic fan of musicals. Anne initially refuses to partner with Mr. K, but his knowledge of musicals draws him to her. The odd pair dance beautifully together in the last act.

Seth and Mr. K tee-off in a competition that requires both to run through a college campus naked. Seth's run through campus seemed inspired by Mark, Tom and Travis in "What's My Age Again" music video. Mr. K streaked like Gene Kelly, if Gene Kelly ever streaked during a slow day on set. Yolanda incessantly bothered the other group members to contribute their share to the expensive scavenger hunt. Yolanda's the most problematic character on the show through seven episodes. She's defined by her nasally screech of a voice and her fear of jazz and cats because of their overwhelming sexuality. Yolanda's overwritten and Suzy Nakamura's overcompensating because the character on the page is shit, or it's one or the other. Yolanda threatened to kill every group scene tonight, most notably when she chimed in about money seconds after Ryan walked into the hotel room his wife arranged to be set-up months in advance, before her death, so he was sort of dealing with some shit.

Fausta and Owen received as much as development as the laundry shop owner. The actors showed off their dance moves during the final act's impromptu dance party. Ryan had a moment with the memory of his life on the hotel balcony, remembering birthdays past and the man he was before the loss and the group. Ryan endured the hunt before being infected by the fun. Lauren pleaded with her toughest 'patient' to let others think about him and want to do nice things to help him feel better. Ryan listened, which is where his apology to Janie came from. From the small bits of exposition about birthday pasts, Ryan seemed like a complete shithead, badgering his wife about not planning stuff, probably scolding her for loving him enough to want to plan romantic birthday outings for them. Ryan's sorry about those days. He's sorry because Janie didn't deserve to be treated badly for caring about him. Memory Janie assures Ryan she got the man she wanted. Ryan disagrees, insisting she deserved better. It was a well-done scene in an otherwise uneven episode.

Go On nails its mourning-and-loss scenes. It makes the show worth watching and writing about every week. The loss group is the worst thing to endure when one has a headache, but Silveri and his writers are able to tie the emotional ties together twice or thrice an episode. Ryan’s journey to become a better person, to process and deal with the enormity of his loss in small ways, is engaging to watch. I’m awaiting the episodes when Ryan’s a little more open, less of a sitcom caricature, and a living, breathing personification of the hard, long road of loss, grief and mourning.

Of course, this will happen in between Mr. K pouring candle wax on his chest and reciting the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Other Thoughts:

-Sonia and Steven were in a fun B story. Steven was high from medication after a colonoscopy. Sonia needed cheering up after seeing her ex-boyfriend's happy existence on the computer. They shopped together and helped one another feel better. John Cho carried their scenes. The dude is able to make anything funny.

-I knew a Mr. K once upon a time. I frequented wrestling message boards in 2000-01. I created a fanzine titled Schwoe in 2003 and Mr. K ran the website for me. Who was this Mr. K? A Canadian fellow from one of the eastern provinces. We used to discuss Spike of Buffy. He liked the Canadian pop-punk Americans only found out about when Atlantic brought over Simple Plan and bands like that. Mr. K was a good dude, much cooler than bearded Mr. K of Go On.

-I look forward and also dread the prospect of a Go On Halloween episode. The title suggests it won't be a
Halloween episode.


1 comment:

Chris Baron said...

This episode was really good in my opinion because it did a great job letting all of the characters have their moments. You are exactly right about how the story being broken up into different parts of the scavenger hunt let each character have their time to shine. I missed the show because I was working late at DISH last night, but thankfully my Hopper automatically recorded it for Primetime Anytime. Having it record all of the primetime shows on the four major networks without setting any timers is a real lifesaver sometimes. I am glad that I caught it because we got to see a more real side of Mr. K, who was a one-dimensional character before this episode.

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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.