Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Go On "Go Deep" Review

What is the meaning of life? Leo Tolstoy had a crisis over the mystery of life's meaning. He vowed to kill himself if he didn't find the Answer to the most important Question. During his spiritual and existential crisis, he began a short story he never finished in which a character wonders what he's so afraid of. A voice responds, saying, "It's me! Death!" That's a poor paraphrase. Now, the similarities between Tolstoy and fictional character Ryan King are non-existent. Tolstoy gave up fiction after he looked into the void and saw nothing. King gives up sports radio before he looks into the void because a woman told him to.

Ryan searches for a deeper something in life because Simone pushes him to. She happens to visit on the day Steve gives Ryan's order to read an ad on-air for a boner cream. Ryan doesn't want to. Steve illustrates the average listener for Ryan--a man in his late 40s with poor habits and trouble performing when it counts. Ryan won't read the ad, and he stages a walkout until the radio caves to his demands. His act of rebellion is spurred by Simone. Steve calls her Yoko Ohno. Simone doesn't get it.

Go On tackles the stereotype of sports radio and its listeners: that they're lonely and that what you see is what you get. Ryan follows Simone because he wants to be a man of substance, deeply involved not only with himself but also nature. Meditation classes teach him to enter the white void where Mr. K confronts the fear of death and emerge no longer fearful of it, where Simone finds clarity and peace; however, Ryan runs into his old coach, who wonders what the heck Ryan's doing with his life. Does he not realize he, someone without talent, gets paid to talk about people with talent for five days every week? Ryan runs back to the station.

Acceptance is the central theme of the episode. Accepting others as they are and accepting yourself as you are. Play-acting doesn't get the characters anywhere. Lauren asks the group to evaluate her job as group counselor. The returns are wonderful except for one low mark which Lauren takes to heart. Who could be disappointed in her? Ryan behaves as he does for Simone. He thinks she won't like him if he doesn't behave the way she does, which is why he tries to meditates, and why he walks out on the radio stations. King's a man with standards; he's not like the other low-bro drive-time radio hosts who slobber over naked butts and breasts, cheap wings and beer, and all that. Simone wouldn't love that man; she knows one line of Yeats that may not be a Yeats line at all, she is cultured.

The lesson, as always, which Ryan and Lauren learn, is to be themselves. Anne's the woman of wisdom in "Go Deep." Anne used to fake-liking her partner's favorite music, thinking her partner would love her more for it, forgetting that it wasn't shared tastes or anything that drew her partner to her but rather Anne being Anne. Anne gets complimented for being 'deep.' Anne doesn't try to be deep. She just is. Simone reveals she's exaggerating her epiphanies and clarity about life, which Ryan actually called her out on during their roof-top meeting, and Ryan happily returns to the airwaves, kisses the ass of the owner's son, and reads the ad for the boner cream.

"Go Deep" is a nicely put-together episode. The difference between "Go Deep" and an early episode is huge. The show has an identity, the writers know the characters, and I know the characters and the world better. The ratings have dropped for the show, but the quality's been sustained, consistent. The show's going to be completely detached from its premise sooner than later, which is okay--it's what happens on sitcoms.

Other Thoughts:

-For anyone wondering, Tolstoy returned to fiction writing. His post-conversion fiction never matched War & Peace and Anna Karenina, but he wrote remarkable short stories and pretty good novel. "After The Dance" is worth seeking out on the internet. It may be titled "After The Ball" on sites. The title depends on the translation. Tolstoy was a complicated and complex man. Ryan King is not.

-Bill Cobbs was terrific once again as George. We learned about George's past as a detective. Lauren and Yolanda ask George to help them in their search for the low evaluator. The mystery has a weak payoff. The highlight of the story is George's little monologue in the car, with Lauren.

-Go On managed to waste Timm Sharp. Timm Sharp's performance in Undeclared's flu episode is one of my all-time favorite comedic performances, on par with Aaron Paul's performance in 2000's Whatever It Takes. Timm Sharp portrayed the meditation instructor. After one scene, he disappears. Timm Sharp's funnier than most of the cast. Oh well.

-Terrell Owens has a recurring role as Ryan's temporary assistant. I missed the bit about why Carrie won't be around. In fact, I'm not sure a bit happened about Carrie going away. Owens sang his lines, and he smiled a lot. I wondered if he charmed Coach Reid by singing and smiling.


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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.