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'Go On' Review: 'Matchup Problems'

Christopher Monigle Christopher Monigle
March 27th, 2013 11:15am EDT

Mr. K mystifies Ryan

Go On's told the story of Ryan getting back into the dating field, meeting a crazy woman, and then dating her. Piper Perabo left the show a few episodes ago. Since Courtney Cox agreed to a guest spot on her friend's sitcom, the writers must've settled on telling roughly the same story they just finished telling. Of course, the difference is in the tone: Ryan's relationship with Simone was about growth whereas Ryan's pursuit of Talia is played for laughs. It's an opportunity to get two actors who starred on a rather popular sitcom awhile ago to play alongside each other once more. A lot of people will be happy to see Cox and Perry on screen again, but I hope they're also annoyed by the absolute filler of the episode.

I think the tonal issues critics worried about in its August premiere were finally back in the third to last episode of the last season. The most common question asked by critics was whether or not Go On could be funny with an unfunny premise. What's funny about grief and grief counseling? "Matchup Problems" is the first episode that takes grief and uses it as a gag. I can't remember other episodes that played with the imaginary line everyone's aware of, which is the same line folk don't want to see crossed. The humor isn't clever or really funny. The episode uses the kind of humor that's not funny but is extreme enough to get people laughing because the people laughing can't believe a show's getting extreme. I'm making this Go On episode sound more offensive than it actually is. My point is that Go On goes for broke with its grief humor.

The humor's not even offensive. It's oddly sort of playful and innocent. Cox's character, Talia, uses her widowhood to snag free shots, free buffalo wings, and free blu cheese dressing. Ryan, and his wingwoman Anne, don't know how to react. Eventually, they go with the flow. Ryan explains why he can't buy blu cheese at a local whole foods. The waiter is horrified by his own insensitivity and gives them whatever they wish to allieve their pain. Ryan's out with Talia because Anne encouraged their meeting, but Talia hits on Ryan and Anne. The friends agree to not compete. Two scenes later, they are competing for a night with Talia. Anne uses her understanding of women to woo the widow while Ryan abandons his entire personality and takes up whatever Talia's interested in to get laid (hm....seems right).

Matthew Perry and Courtney Cox still have great chemistry. Cox is a funny woman. The writing lets her focus on the funny. I haven't watched Cougar Town more than once, but I bet Cox is a delightful presence. Sometimes, Perry doesn't seem relaxed in scenes. Perhaps it is because Ryan is not relaxed; perhaps not. Perry's relaxed in every scene with Cox. One way to put it is Perry isn't trying so hard to sell a joke or a gag. In past episodes, he'd try way too hard to sell a line or push a gag over the top. The story itself isn't good, but the performances are a joy to watch. Perry's not bad in the show, but he's less overeager and anxious than he's been in certain episodes this season. That's the only point I wanted to make.

Ryan learns a lesson he'll later pass on to his listeners through a sports metaphor. Talia wants to go home with Anne and Ryan, but her preference is Anne. Anne turns her down because she got a vibe. Ryan jumps into the car, only realizing the mistake he made afterwards. Talia is unhinged. The evening ends with sirens and a fleeing Talia leaving Ryan to eat the crime. Ryan explains dating in terms of free agency. Desperate teams will jump on the first attractive player that'll make them feel good. Lauren's in the role of the desperate team. She's unhappy with Wyatt, so she flirts with a man on Yolanda's Asians-Christians cruise because she likes the fun attention. Anne's the conservative type that waits, bides its time, and only jumps in when the situation is right for both parties. I forget where Ryan falls in the metaphor. He's the lead character, though, so he'll forget about lesson quickly.

Overall, the episode is the fun kind of filler. Ryan and Anne are a terrific pairing to watch go back and forth. Mr. K gets some stellar moments. The small movement towards the finale comes from Lauren's feelings about her impending marriage with Wyatt; however, even with the Lauren/Wyatt subplot, "Matchup Problems" stands alone. Go On landed Courtney Cox, said to hell with the other stories, and devoted a story to making her and Perry shine together for the first time in over a decade. It worked.

Other Thoughts:

-My recording cut off before the end of the episode. This is the first time I'm writing a review without seeing the complete episode. I doubt the conclusion to Yolanda's cruise trip in which Mr. K shows up to save her changes the course of the series forever. Mr. K would've gotten me to laugh, though.

-Anne decided to compete with Ryan for Talia because she 'woke up horny.' Well, then.

-Sonia's parents are deaf. Unrelated, George has had four wives and found number five, according to a text. He refers to his wives as Queen Georges. Bill Cobbs is great.

-Owen and Danny were absent this week. I like that Go On ignores them rather than explain away their absence with something stupid.

-Go On moves to Thursdays the next two weeks. Don't forget, all 6 of you still watching.

Photo Credits: © NBCUniversal, Inc


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