Hollywood Game Night combines elements from all of the classic game shows, specifically Password and Body Language, and makes them modern. It may also be the first new game show that allows the viewer to participate at home, which is something that Minute to Win It and The Winner Is lack. Watching people make fools of themselves on television is only fun for so long.
Television is usually a passive experience, but the reason why Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, and The Price is Right have been around for over 30 years is because people love to feel like they are participating at home in a way that doesn’t involve consuming large amounts of alcohol. Hollywood Game Night‘s producers understand that. Although, host Jane Lynch did recommend a Hollywood Game Night drinking game five minutes into the show; it was tongue in cheek.
Only two episodes into the series, Go On has already exceeded expectations. When Matthew Perry says that the show has heart, he means it. His character, Ryan King, just wants to grieve his wife’s death and help people at the Transitions therapy group in the process.
In the second episode of Go On, viewers find out that Ryan forces his assistant, Carrie, to work late just so he does not have to go home to an empty house. Carrie is clearly worn down because she has not had a social life in weeks. She wants to help Ryan, but needs a life of her own. When Ryan finally allows Carrie to have a social life, he invites himself to Carrie’s girls’ nights out. Ryan clearly has problems that he should not be imposing on Carrie. However, the man just lost his wife, so it is hard to get angry with him. Eventually, Ryan and Carrie set boundaries.
NBC hit a home run with Go On. The show stars Matthew Perry as sportscaster Ryan King, whose boss forces him to join the Transitions therapy group. Of course, Ryan feels that he does not need therapy and any attempt to convince people to agree with him fails because he keeps lashing out at everyone. For those who insist on making Friends comparisons, Ryan is Chandler Bing, if Chandler Bing suffered from clinical depression and was constantly sardonic. It is a little jarring at first, since Friends is still being rerun continually, but it works.
Ryan’s first Transitions’ meeting makes up a big part of the pilot episode. When he first arrives, Ryan takes his place in the circle and listens briefly to some of his fellow group members’ problems. He quickly gets fed up with the wallowing because everything in his life is a competition. Deciding to do something about this, Ryan pulls out a whiteboard and starts making a bracket that one of the group members dubs “March Sadness.” For someone to progress in “March Sadness,” they have to tell their sob story in 5 seconds and it has to be more depressing than their competitors. It is twisted that Ryan turns suffering into a competition, but for some reason it does seem like a feasible way to move on in one’s life. The winner was a Fausta, a woman who spoke mostly Spanish and lost both her husband and her son. As the winner, Ryan crowned Fausta with a pastry box that she now cherishes.
Upon hearing that Community got renewed for a fourth season, I was excited, but also a little disappointed in the size of the order. Thirteen episodes means less of a chance of further continuation (six seasons and a movie!), but given the fact that NBC needed room to budget its new shows it wasn’t a surprise. It also got me very curious about the upcoming Fall season.
Most shows produced for network television never see the light of day. A lot of them get cancelled after a few episodes. Some get really bad time slots, others get terrible lead-ins. A lot of times, it’s just a bad show. The point is very few shows get respectable runs, especially in recent years. On NBC, the only truly stellar run in the last 5 years has been The Office, which is clearly on the decline. Not since the ending of Friends could any show on the network truly be considered a “classic”, so there’s a certain degree of skepticism in my mind when there are six shows debuting in the fall and many more set to debut afterwards.
Lately, Matthew Perry has made a career of less than promising movies and sitcoms that go no more than 15 episodes. It’s just not the same as when he was Chandler. Hopefully that will change because Go On is looking promising.
As Ryan King, Perry portrays a slick, sarcastic sportscaster who, after the death of his wife, is ready to get back to work. However, his boss will not let him back on the air until he goes to group therapy. King’s goal is really just to get back on the air as soon as he can, but it seems that his less-than-caring approach seems to work for him and the group. Perry’s character resorts back to what worked best for Chandler: a tragic backstory and the use of humor as a defense mechanism.
The highlight of the trailer was a sequence of Ryan holding a contest for “Who has the best sob story?”, known as “March Sadness”. With its snarky attitude, a caring story, and what seems like a solid supporting cast for Perry, this show looks like it could last a while. NBC is advertising this series as Matthew Perry’s return. Here’s hoping it’s a bit more triumphant than the last attempt, which was Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip in 2007.