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Why is nobody talking about Go On?

Why is nobody talking about Go On?

Go On premiered on NBC during the Olympics, a thing most people seem to be really pissed off about. At least that’s what I understand from reading internet outrage about NBC’s stupid idea. Yes, I get it. How could they do that? Those bastards. But now, Go On just had its 14th episode and nobody is talking about it. As with any new sitcom, there are a lot of problems with it, but I’m sure no fewer than the The Mindy Project but people cant shut up about that one (Just to be clear, I’m a huge fan of Kaling. The show is a bit weak, but her character is hilarious and I watch it with dedication).

Go On is the story of Ryan King (Matthew Perry yay) who has to attend mandatory group therapy session to deal with the grief of his wife dying. It started out a bit rocky because Perry plays a smart ass who doesn’t seem to take anything seriously and most of the characters seem like caricatures at first watch. But it manages to stay funny. Post it’s initial settling-in episodes; Go On has become a engaging show that deals with grief in a real, if sometimes over-the-top way (the episode where his wife plans his birthday before dying was a bit much really).

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The rough edges of most of the supporting cast have been sanded out and some of them are really shining now. Especially Anne played by Julia White. Dry, acerbic and angry, Anne lost her wife and doesn’t care at all for King’s charming ways. John Cho who plays King’s boss is amazing as usual though I wish they’d give him more screen time. All the scenes where he is in the radio station are well done.  The episode with Lauren Graham (Matthew Perry’s ex girlfriend) had a nice genuine quality to it and we hear Bradley Whitford (Or as we know him, Danny Tripp) is going to do a special cameo sometime soon. Woot woot for a studio 60 reunion.

The thing with sitcoms is; they need breathing space. The pilot is usually never a good time to judge a show; you don’t know the people yet, the first 15 of 20 minutes is spent introducing you to the characters and their personal quirks and there’s pretty little time to grab you. Parks and Rec had a pretty boring first season, but look at it now. It’s one of the funniest shows on television. In its first couple of episodes, Happy Endings seemed to me like pretty forced humour. But once the cast clicked it’s amah-zing. Go On isn’t as funny as either of these shows right now but it has potential, I just know it. Go on, give it a try.

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A jumbled sea of stories

A jumbled sea of stories

Usually I steer clear of movies that have characters with disabilities of any kind. I don’t like feeling forced to empathise with a character or be called insensitive if I don’t. But Bollywood, despite Guzarish and some others, has really handled disability very well in recent times. Paa, Taare Zameen Par and this week’s Barfi.
Barfi is a story about deaf and mute boy (Ranbir Kapoor is absolutely incredible in this movie and so cute!), an autistic girl (Priyanka Chopra) and of course the message of all Bollywood movies: love surpasses everything.

The movie successfully manages to skip past sympathy and gets straight to the story; that there is an autistic person and a deaf-mute is almost kind of incidental. I’m not an expert at writing movie reviews but this is a movie I would recommend to everybody. The music is very sweet and some of the scenes are shot extremely beautifully. The cast is great; it’s just a wonderfully made movie.

I caught the 11pm show and at 2.30 am, I took a rickshaw home from Andheri alone, plugged my headphones in and I realised, it was 2.30 am. A few years ago I wouldn’t dare go alone anywhere past midnight and yes, there is still that occasional moment of anxiety when I’m the only woman on Khar station and the sleeveless kurta seems to reveal more than it actually does. And then there are nights like these when I’ll stop on the way and smoke a cigarette with the rickshaw driver, when all of Bombay seems to mutter stories and the song that plays on shuffle seems to fit your life and even the street lamps look like fireflies. Nights like these when coming home and opening a word document seems organic. You have almost no idea what you’re writing but you do. It may not be as inspiring as you thought it was in the morning but what I’m coming to, after all this pointless build up is that Bombay is so full of stories, so many worlds, so many characters.

Speaking of Bombay stories, this week, Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil (of the super cool Sridhar Thayil) was nominated for the Man Booker prize. Honestly, I’m not the biggest fan of the book, the story is great, the narrative is exciting but somehow it seem a bit, erm, pretentious. I know. Maybe I just didn’t get it. Maybe I’m being a hipster and don’t want to like anything that’s popular (Ok, that’s not true. Look at the fangirlism on this website). But this is still terribly exciting news for Indian fiction and I do hope Thayil wins. We’ll know in about a month, and till then if you haven’t read Narcopolis yet, you should. Do tell me what you think.

And here’s something else I recommend this week, Go on. Matthew Perry’s latest show is about a radio jockey who loses his wife and has to attend mandatory group therapy sessions. Matthew Perry is one of my favourite actors and every time he fails I take it personally. Studio 60 lasted only one season (and what a spectacular season that was), Mr. Sunshine was terribly lackluster so I had my fingers crossed for Go on. Two episodes in, and I predict good things to come. A very cute story with Perry’s trademark humour and wit and a cast that makes for some crazy and sweet moments, Go on might just be the show to watch this season.

We’ll be loving this show in two different millennia soon

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We’ll be loving this show in two different millennia soon

If someone had told me to watch Studio 60 instead of spending Rs 1,00,000 on a Post graduate diploma in Journalism and Mass communication, it would be good advice. Off the top of my head, these are some of the issues the show throws out there. Stand up comedy, writing for television, Television’s responsibility to different communities and to society at large, sensitivity in a mass medium, journalism, TRP ratings and what drives them, comedy at a time when your audience is threatened with war, violence and uncertainty. Question: Why would you watch something that…heavy? Answer: It’s unbelievably HILARIOUS. I probably should have lead with that.

First some background for the uninitiated. Studio 60 on the sunset strip was created by Aaron Sorkin of The West Wing fame. The show within a show format story is woven around the creators of a SNL type comedy sketch show called Studio 60. The series aired on NBC in 2006 and was promptly cancelled a year later because it lost its time slot to The Black Donnelly’s and later to The Real Wedding Crashers. I know. I’m speechless with rage too.
 

Here’s why you should watch, re-watch or Sunday-marathon-with-beer-watch Studio 60 on the sunset strip if you’re a/an

Amateur stand up comedian: If you want to get people to laugh at your material and at your jokes, here’s some free Studio 60 advice.

Harriet: I got a laugh at the table read when I asked for the butter in the dinner sketch, I didn’t get one at the dress. What did I do wrong?

Matt: You asked for the laugh.

Harriet: What did I do at the table read?

Matt: You asked for the butter.

And there’s plenty more where that came from.

Small fry Journalist (ahem): Yes, for a couple of episodes, a swinging, fast-talking Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Martha O’Dell, from Vanity Fair lands up to do a full-length feature on a behind the scenes at Studio 60. If you watch carefully, her character has a lesson or two for you. I can’t say too much without it being a spoiler, but I will say this. She doesn’t take notes during interviews (don’t try this at home. At least, not yet), she knows the answers before she asks the question but she asks the question anyway and she draws information and confessions out of the people she interviews, the way you draw doodles in your notebook fifteen minutes before filing your story.

Are working in Television: What’s important? Bowing and scraping to the network that airs your show or putting up content you feel the show demands? Every tussle you’ll ever have in the world of TV, every word you need to change in a script. Every bit of last minute writing you’ll have to do to make a deadline: It’s all here.

Are from the Entertainment industry: When is entertainment harmless and silly and when can it get dangerous? Do you have a responsibility to viewers and readership that do not come from the urban background that you do? Is taking a pot-shot at someone who can’t fight back okay as long as it gets you ratings?

Are a fan of Sting, Corrine Bailey Rae, Gran Bel Fisher, Three 6 mafia, and Natalie Cole:  They all appear on the show once, as themselves, and they perform. Also, Sting accompanies himself on a lute.

Get a kick out of celebrity impressions: Tom Cruise, Nicholas Cage, Holly Hunter and Ben Stiller. For real.

Tend to beat yourself up after a bad job: There’s an episode on the show called The disaster show, where everything that can possibly go wrong goes twice as wrong and then some. The characters still weather on. Remember that sense of entitlement you felt when you started working? Remember how it all came crashing down your ears when you actually got down to work? What’s that? It still happens? Yeah, it happens to everyone. Wrote a bad story? Had a bad show? Missed a deadline? Shake it off. Move on and do a better job next time.

Want to find out why I chose the headline I did: You’ll get it at the end of the season.

Believe that true genius never really gets its due anymore: You know I’m right. Look at the ratio of shows that do phenomenally well and look at the ones that flounder before bravely dying out.

Don’t care about any of this but like good television: Aaron Sorkin keeps the action fast, the plot and writing tight, the characters believable and the backstory bulletproof. If you’re a fan of the walk-and-talk technique and snappy dialogue, then this is the show you watch and then watch again and then talk about till people stand up and leave the table.

– Sheena

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