Thursday, April 11, 2013

Go On "Urn-ed Run" Review

The episode description for tonight's Go On promised a cross country trip for Steve and Ryan wherein Ryan would interview for a national host job. "Urn-ed Run" did not involve a cross country trip wherein Ryan would eventually interview for a national host job. The fabricated plot line would've worked for a season finale story. Season finales are designed to provide closure for the season and establish story lines for the new season. Ryan achieved a professional milestone when his show was the #1 drive-time talk show in Los Angeles. Of course, Go On isn't about a man's goal to become a national radio show host. Invariably, season finales return to the roots of the show. Go On's about the grieving and healing process.

"Urn-ed Run" returns to two ongoing things in the series. First, it returned to Ryan's ongoing struggle with moving on from his wife's death nearly a year after the tragedy. The second is the idea that the group members haven't gotten better in the group. These two aspects come together in the fake ceremony in which Ryan spreads his wife's ashes (which said ashes are just Bisquick). The group loses faith in Lauren's process since Ryan couldn't find it in him to spread his wife's ashes. The members' plans for self-improvement, which were motivated by Ryan, implode. Lauren's sad. Ryan's sad. Everyone's sad. After a year together, no one feels better. How can that be?

Go On's been consistently successful in its depictions of grief and healing. Ryan's hit-or-miss as a comic leading man, but he's solid as the chief character in this story about a man who feels lost without his wife and who doesn't know how to feel better or if he's even ever going to feel better. Ryan still wakes up at 1:23AM. He's having nightmares about his wedding day with Janie. The group pressures him to spread her ashes and move on. Moving on's the major misnomer about grief. People expect the grieving ones to one day be over what happened, but that never happens. Go On posits that Lauren's successful in her job once Ryan, and everyone else, are over what's happened to them and have moved on. Sonia and Yolanda concoct a horrible sitcom lie to help Lauren feel better about her role as group therapist with the endgame being Lauren's assistance in helping people move on from the death of a made-up dead guy named Xander. Ryan's Bisquick misdirect motivates Mr. K and Anne to force him to move on. Go On goes off the rails at this point in the episode.

Anne and Ryan have an established history together, comedic and heartfelt. Two episodes ago they laid on the grass together, holding hands, while remembering Janie and Patty, respectively. Now, Anne kidnaps Janie's urn and threatens to spread the ashes if Ryan continues to resist. What the hell is that? Janie's ashes end up spread around a gas station because sitcoms suck. Ryan's, at least, pissed. Lauren calms him down by explaining why he's struggling with this stage of the process. He nearly screwed up the wedding by making it epic when Janie wanted simplicity. Lauren advises he keep the act of spreading her ashes simple. So, Ryan heads to a batting cage, which is where they went after their wedding, and also where they shared their first date, and he spreads them there (without her family, of course, because this show can be heartless).

Ryan's grand moment of moving on leads to a group powwow around a bon fire in which everyone gives something to the fire. Each item is symbolic of each individual's active act of moving on from what first brought them to the group. I would've preferred a final shot of Ryan sleeping in bed, the clock strikes 1:23AM, and he bolts awake. I would've preferred the acknowledgement that moving on isn't the endgame. We go on after loss; we don't move on. How a show titled Go On missed the boat on that slam dunk is beyond me.

Go On's a network sitcom, though. Network sitcoms don't conclude on down beats. Progress and growth need to happen. Ryan sleeps through 1:23AM. Lauren succeeds in helping the group move on from their issues. The episode ends on another Ryan analogy to sports. This time, he compares the group to a baseball team. Sure, whatever; I'll roll with it. Go On got increasingly better throughout its first season. Its increase in quality coincided with its ratings drops, making it unlikely to be renewed by NBC for a second season. I selfishly wanted a portrayal of grief that reflected my own experiences grieving. Beyond that, though, Go On was a reliably entertaining sitcom for most of its season. I laughed during episodes. I was moved. The writers never completely figured out the tonal imbalance of grief stuff versus group shenanigans. Mostly, as Dan Dierdorf would declare, Go On did its job.

Other Thoughts:

-This marks the first time I watched an entire season of a Matthew Perry show. I didn't bother with a second episode of Mr. Sunshine, and I didn't start caring about TV until after Friends.

-Brett Gelman was the standout of the series. I hope he gets plenty of work if NBC opts against renewing the series.

-Bill Cobbs delivered the biggest laugh of the episode when he confronted his old boss, George. Cobbs is the man.

-Thanks for reading my reviews of Go On throughout the season, everyone.


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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.