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'Go On' Review: 'Comeback Player Of The Year'

Christopher Monigle Christopher Monigle
January 23rd, 2013 11:26am EST

Matthew Perry as Ryan King, Piper Perabo as Simone

The phrase "The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper" is credited to the Irish poet W.B. Yeats in "Comeback Player of the Year." It's just a guess that Yeats wrote, or uttered, that beautiful lyric. Scholars are unsure. Go On attributes the line to a poem, an inspirational poem. Yeats didn't write inspirational poetry, certainly not the inspirational poetry our culture would recognize. Yeats drew on ancient Irish myth, religion, and his personal life, when composing verse. Go On goes for the broadest portrayal of anything--whether it's humor, a character, a fictionalization of Bob Costas, Shaun White, and Terrell Owens, so it makes sense Go On would generalize and undermine the work of one of Ireland's great poets.

The line itself connotes an idea about Ryan. Piper Perabo's Simone used to attend group therapy and left to pursue a career in dancing. The group adored her, loved her even. Simone's New Age, so sweet it seems she's playing the people who adore and love her for fools, because no one can be as nice, sincere, and genuine as Simone. Ryan doesn't trust her. The group favors her more than Ryan. Simone's return to the group leaves Ryan out. He wants to discuss a change in his radio show, but the group doesn't care. Simone lost the love of her life, but he didn't die or leave her; he just got away from her. Ryan reminds the group about his own loss. Sonia makes a gagging noise and says, "Yeah, like so long ago." So, no, Ryan doesn't like her.

Simone embodies that line credited to W.B. Yeats. Since this is a television show, Simone's invested in getting Ryan to like her, and Ryan's invested in showing how uninvested he is in Simone. The specific plot's been done so many times throughout the decades of television, in many iterations, on both sitcoms and dramas. The cooler guest character lasts an episode but affects change in the main protagonist's life. Go On even includes the unnecessary scene where the jealous Ryan forces the group to make a choice: him or her. Toy Story had the same conflict between Woody and Buzz. The toys chose Buzz because he had batteries. The group chooses Simone because she's beautiful, and she makes scarves for them.

Inevitably, Simone and Ryan have drinks. Ryan calls her out on her lies. Simone claims she feels a storm coming because of the way her bad leg, from dance, feels. Ryan thinks she's doing it just to do it. Simone's claims about her leg and her other senses about people and what they need seem designed for attention--that's Ryan's impression of her. Simone takes her to a rooftop. The scene's reminiscent of Louie's bizarre rooftop scene with Parker Posey's Liz. Simone quotes that line from the inspirational poem (which ISN'T from an inspirational poem). Ryan needs to stop denying the magical things of the world, for himself above all. He just needs to become more attuned to it. They kiss on the rooftop and then have sex in Anne's bed. The show used Yeats to skirt around the major issue of Ryan sleeping with a woman for the first time since Janie died. Yeats used poetry to meditate on problematic relationships with women, deeply. Go On failed to effectively tell this story. It had all the charm of a forgettable romantic comedy.

The episode's highlight happens when Anne's grief resurfaces during her assistance in Danny's divorce case. As per usual, the sad part of the show comes out of nowhere; however, sad stuff, i.e. grief, comes out of nowhere for the grieving. One minute you're laughing, and the next you're completely sad so deep down in your soul you can't imagine that you laughed a second ago. The group consoles Anne. Anne's still angry her partner wouldn't take her heart pills. Anne felt someone who loved her should've taken care of herself. Lauren suggests Anne forgive her partner. Lauren doesn't say anything else. Lauren and the group show they care by staying with Anne as she tries to sleep in their bed for the first time since her death.

The other highlight of the episode is the formation of a potentially legendary fictional friendship. Now, I don't expect Go On to include another scene between Steven and Mr. K. Mr. K is consistently great every week. This week, he breaks down the intricacies of radio production to win the friendship of Steven, who's over the moon someone else understands his plight. Mr. K originally slapped Steven and flipped Steven's car because he cut Ryan's radio show by 15 minutes. Steven's a forgiving man. Honest connections, and understanding, will heal. That's the take-away of tonight's Go On.

Terrell Owens as Himself
Other Thoughts:

-Terrell Owens continues the trend of sports figures playing themselves on Go On. Owens' portrayal of his own self is forced. He should've tapped into whatever made him put on a show for the media eight years ago after the Eagles wouldn't restructure his contract.

-Piper Perabo's still lovely. I'll always remember her fondly from Coyote Ugly. Did her USA show get cancelled?

-Fausta wanted Ryan out of the group after their first session with him. Fausta used to lack personality, but she's consistently great in the one beat she receives each episode.

-Carrie's fingers were super-glued to her keyboard, and she was positively delightful in her brief moment of trying to get the keyboard off her fingers.

-W.B. Yeats wrote many great poems. Among my favorites are: “To A Shade,” “Who Goes With Fergus?”; “When You Are Old;” “The Stolen Child;” “Ephemera;” “To Ireland in the Coming Times;” and “Down By The Salley Gardens,” just to name a few.

Photo Credits: NBC Universal, Inc.