Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Go On "Do You Believe In Ghosts...YES!" Review

Deceased characters appear as ghost to offer something to the main character. I'm thinking of King Hamlet's spooky return from the dead as he beckons his son to take revenge on Claudius. Banquo appears at the dinner table as Macbeth hosts various persons in and around Denmark. The presence of Banquo is a visualization of Macbeth's guilt over what he's done to become the king of Denmark. Janie appears to Ryan for a reason she keeps to herself. All Ryan knows is the woman he loves is making demands he's not ready to meet. It's not quite Shakespeare.

The group therapy sessions are less about healing than sneaking and spying on Lauren, so they can learn about their therapist. Lauren prefers to keep her private life private. The specific details of her life don't factor into the healing process of her charges. Ryan suddenly interrupts a story to revealing his deceased wife Janie appeared to him and ordered him to shop for food. Expired food rotted in the refrigerator. Sour milk sat in the container. Janie apparently watched from The Great Beyond with disgust, defied the cosmos and the laws of nature and of death to visit her husband in hopes of improving his life. The group's reaction is on par with a group's reaction to squirrels climbing a tree with acorns in their mouths.

The group's, and Lauren's, dismissal of Ryan's revelation about the appearance of the ghost of his deceased wife Janie is rather strange for Go On, considering the group aided Ryan one time at 1:23am because the time was too painful to bear alone. The group's more concerned with learning about Lauren's job as a valet manager. Go On couldn't tell the same story about the group being there for Ryan as soon as he saw his dead wife, because this is television, and critic folk and blogger folk would've criticized the show for reusing a story told not too long ago. The dismissal of Janie's ghost could be a symptom of the show's limited storytelling options. The world of the show doesn't lend itself to many different ideas. Each episode needs to revolve around Ryan's journey of moving forward, or, if you will, 'going on.'

"Do You Believe in Ghosts...YES!" tells three substantial stories. The A story focuses on Ryan and Janie; the B story focuses on the rest of the group and Lauren; the C story focuses on Steve's friendship with Ryan. The episode suffers from the problems of the previous episodes. The problems are tonal. Two beats in the conclusion of the A story encompass the tonal issues of Go On. Janie confirms her reasons for defying the cosmos and the laws of nature and death to return to the land of the living. Ryan needs to learn how to care for himself, to shop, clean, fold laundry, and just plain live and not waste away from a lack of food because he doesn't know how to shop. She came back to tell him it's okay to be okay again. It's a semi-sweet moment that's unfortunately dampened by the jovial tone of their earlier scenes. Ryan's wife comes back, and Ryan just makes cracks about the way his shirt looks on her and other nonsense. Their one sweet moment in which Ryan tells her how much he misses her and how he grieves for the life he imagined for them in old age is followed by Ryan chasing after her ghost to request the password for iTunes. The line killed the scene.

Similarly, the B story struggles to find balance in tone. The group stalking of Lauren's other professional life is written for laughs. Lauren opens up about her struggles to pass the real estate exam due to pre-test anxieties. Lauren also is studying for her masters to devote her life to helping people heal from loss. The group behaves like the frat in Old School, which was funny eight years ago in a rated R comedy, and unfunny in 2012 on NBC. The story builds to the heartwarming beat in which the group expresses their desire to be with Lauren during her hour of need. She helps them heal, so they'll help her anyway they can. It works, but getting to that point was a chore. Go On needs to figure out the humor before it goes for the heart.

The C story is the best of the episode, thanks to John Cho's typically great performance. I'd love to know the production numbers of the episode. Go On's been in this territory as recent as two or three weeks ago, when Steve wanted to help Ryan express his feelings. Ryan reaches out to his best friend because they haven't hung out, which doesn't track as they've been bonding since the second episode. Cho's just so entertaining in any role that the story floats and feels sort of new.

Go On remains a work-in-progress and in search of an identity. The group hasn't been fully defined. NBC ordered a full season of the series, so Silveri and his writers have plenty of time to figure Go On out. I'll write about the show until season's end.

Other Thoughts:

-Matthew Perry's performance is still loud and all over the place. I don't think he'll change.

-No George for a second episode in a row; however, imdb lists Bill Cobbs for upcoming episodes. I'm a fan of Mr. Cobbs.

-I don't remember half of the group characters' names. The individual group members need definition. The majority are disposable secondary sitcom characters who built and sustained on a single personality trait.

-Janie promised Ryan she'd be back. Janie's introduction into series as a ghost character worked really well. One saw the qualities Ryan fell in love with, which are of course the qualities he misses terribly. Next appearance, I hope she's more than a cute smile, cute outfit, and a coy personality. I hope she delivers a near 2 page long monologue like Ghost (King Hamlet), because his monologue is so badass.


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About The Foot

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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.