“Win At All Costas” is a rather enjoyable episode of Go On. It’s not a departure from the show’s basic format for ratings success, but it manages to pull it off well, and you know, if I, in turn, manage to lower my lofty expectations a hair, I might find the rest of the season enjoyable, too.
The operative word with Go On is light. It’s practically terrified of character drama, which is a bit odd considering that the show’s premise is formed around a grief support group. I’d love to, one day, see the show that can handle both the heavy and light aspects of a group of misfits dealing with intense life change, and I am disappointed Go On didn’t live up to what it could have been. But it doesn’t make much sense to drag it through the mud each week for failing in the exact same way, either.
So—given that Go On is almost exclusively invested in light humor, this episode does very well for itself. After Ryan is invited onto the Bob Costas show (featuring special guest BOB COSTAS!!), Mr. K makes it his life’s mission to replace Ryan’s deceased wife, Janie. This extends to cooking him meals, cheering him up after setbacks, and giving him pep talks before high-stakes events. Of course, Mr. K is not very good at any of these things, but the plotline gives Matthew Perry the chance to play the straight man, and that’s something he does with style.
Mr. K and Ryan make a good, even great, comedic pairing. Both actors seem to work best off of other people, instead of on their own. I observed that whenever Matthew Perry is forced to be comic himself, he tends to flounder a little. Maybe the humor is that he’s supposed to be awkward, and I’m not seeing it. But those scenes are consistently the weakest in the show. For example, in “Win At All Costas,” Ryan’s blank expression when he freezes up is supposed to be funny, enough that it’s used as a gag repeatedly, but I didn’t think it worked too well. But put that blank expression to use against Mr. K’s version of lasagna—M&Ms and cereal!—and it’s comedy gold. And Brett Gelman appears able to make anyone funny. He makes Bob Costas hilarious in their quick exchange, in which Mr. K forces Costas to confront his lost dreams as a “serious” reporter who talked about “philosophy” and “art.” Of course, from a plot perspective, this ruins everything, but who cares?
While the boys are up to their hijinks, the rest of their group is at a quinceañera. Fausta invites the group to her niece’s celebration—or to be exact, everyone except Anne. Anne spends the rest of the episode stomping around complaining that she is not a wet blanket as Fausta says, she is tons of fun, and everyone ought to pity her dammit because she has lots of problems and also loneliness!! Julie White is a hell of a scene-stealer, and this episode is no exception. She even briefly shows up to Ryan’s house to complain, and makes the scene that much funnier because it’s her and Mr. K in the same room.
Considering that Anne is now anchoring whole subplots herself, I wish the writers would dial back Perry’s scenes to give Julie White more room to have fun. Perry doesn’t handle drama and comedy well when mixed—he seems to veer too far in either direction, which in turn suggests why the show has stayed so determinedly lighthearted. But White manages it with aplomb. In this episode, Anne crashes the quinceañera, in time to observe that Fausta’s honoring her grief in her own way, by leaving a table empty to commemorate those who her family has lost. Then Anne goes up to Fausta and cries and it’s all very touching. The episode ends with Anne in a pink ruffled dress, so absolutely nothing else could have made it better.
I’d love to see a little more range with the characters, but I’m getting the impression that Perry’s stipulations on his contract or limitations as an actor is holding the show back. It seems a little off from what the rest of the characters are doing, and what the show could be moving towards. Still, this was a fine episode, with a good balance of work, support group, sports, and non-sports to keep things moving.
- Danny! MORE DANNY. MORE DANNY’S BOOTS. MORE DANNY’S BOOTS DANCING!
- “I brought you lunch.” “This is just pictures of food.”
- The Fibonacci sequence: a hoax designed to create order out of chaos. Hard-hitting journalism indeed! You go, Bob Costas, you go.