GO ON: Scott Silveri on the End of Season Arc, the Show's Evolution, Moving to Thursday Nights, Guest Stars, and More - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

GO ON: Scott Silveri on the End of Season Arc, the Show’s Evolution, Moving to Thursday Nights, Guest Stars, and More

April 4, 2013 by  

As season 1 of GO ON winds down, the Matthew Perry-led comedy has had quite the ride: the series launched in August during NBC’s Olympic coverage and spent the first part of the season behind the comfortable lead-in of THE VOICE. The comedy struggled a bit in the ratings during the few months THE VOICE was on a hiatus, but starting tonight, NBC will try out the series in its Thursday night comedy block after THE OFFICE.

While GO ON may have had some highs and lows with the ratings in the first season, personally, I’ve found it to be arguably the strongest new comedy series of any network this year. So with the end of the season fast approaching, I spoke with GO ON creator Scott Silveri to get his take on when the show started clicking for them, the rating struggles, the show’s new night, what fans can expect from the end of the season…and from a potential season 2.

Take a look!

It often takes first-year shows a bit of time to find their stride. At what point do you feel like things fully clicked into place?
Scott Silveri: I feel like we clicked at different times. There are so many characters, so many different people to serve, and we wanted to explore each of the characters, so we reached out into a lot of different directions. I think a lot of the combinations worked well. And not every story was my favorite, but I feel — I’m happy we did the work to explore all the characters and combinations we did, and I’m satisfied with the results.

Where did it click? There was something that worked from the pilot: it was always easy that the group of them, sitting in a room, going around the circle, being odd and silly and combative and sometimes kind, that seemed to work pretty well right out of the gate. Over the course of the season, we found things I wouldn’t have known at pilot stage, like Matthew [Perry (Ryan)] and Julie White (Anne) would be so great together. That’s one friendship I didn’t see coming, and something that’s paid us a lot of dividends at the end. I don’t know if you saw the episode a couple of weeks ago with the gambling when they let their [wedding] rings go [in balloons]. I thought that was a really nicely performed scene. It’s something you don’t see on a lot of shows. Certainly not comedies. I don’t know if that’s something to be proud of, but it’s true.

Yeah, I will admit I was a little sucker-punched by the emotions I felt when I watched that episode.
SS: That actually came from an idea that Matthew pitched. We were trying to find a way…we had poked a few different ways to let the rings go, and that was actually his pitch. It was this thing where we had it in an earlier episode in a whole different way to get rid of the ring, and he pitched that — and the writing had already been doing on the earlier one — and I was like [Jokingly], “Son of a bitch, that’s better, you jerk! Now I have to go change everything.” I thought it came together really nicely.

You know, the biggest challenge for us is getting things to work outside of that [group] room. Because there’s a very natural chemistry in the room, but that can be a crutch: you can only do so much of people sitting around in a circle; it gets very talky and you run the risk of being inactive.

What else worked? Comedically, I liked the birthday episode. I thought that was another kind of weird, dark farce that was unique to the show, where they set up a scavenger hunt thing to celebrate Ryan’s birthday, and then his [dead] wife had planted the thing that was the final clue. And it had the potential to be such a tremendous bummer, but we were able to get laughs out of that. That’s the sort of thing that excites me: when something works and it’s funny, I’m excited, but we get bonus points if it works, it’s funny, and it feels unique to the show we’re trying to do.

Speaking of unique, one of the things that has kind of blown me away is how you guys have effortlessly — and without making it a huge deal — worked someone like real-life football player Terrell Owens into the show. Obviously, you guys booked him for the pilot, but what was behind the decision to keep bringing him back and rope him into Ryan’s life?
SS: [Laughs] We had him in the pilot and then we had another episode where we were looking for an athlete for Ryan to be kind of a jerk to. And we remembered, “Hey, he was a jerk to this on guy, and that guy was pretty funny. Why don’t we call him and see if he’s around?” And he came back for that first episode beyond the pilot, and he was so funny and so easy to work with that when it came time for [Ryan’s] assistant to leave — [Allison Miller (Carrie)] had a film she was signed up for — we thought, “Okay, let’s get somebody in there for the time being. And we’ve got this guy who is making us all laugh…should we press our luck and see if he keeps doing it?” And son of a bitch, he really, really did! [Laughs] We thought he was pretty damn funny.

And he got silly, too. Behind the scenes, the first couple of times he was taking it very seriously, like, “I’m an actor, I have to know my lines and stuff.” The third time he was there, we were shooting late at night, as we often do, and he was doing John Cho (Steven) impersonations, making fun of Matthew, and then he disappears for a few minutes and comes back out in some weird wig. He’s become the class clown of GO ON. He’s a funny, funny dude.

I think he might be playing ball again [next football season], so I’ve never had the joy of writing around a wide receiver’s road schedule before, so here’s hoping he signs with somebody and I have to worry if he’s going to be on Stage 3 or being tackled by the Green Bay Packers.

That’s certainly an interesting potential problem to have! You also have featured a lot of other great guest stars this season, both from the sports world and staging acting reunions, so was there a specific kind of mentality you had in terms of how many guest stars you wanted in order to not overshadow your own expansive cast?
SS: Keep in mind, we have an irresponsibly large cast. It’s ridiculous. I was just remembering the other day in the initial draft I had like four more characters in the group. It was insanity! Directors show up to shoot this show and they’re like, “What the hell are you doing? How am I supposed to cover all these people? It takes days!”

So, yeah, we have a lot of people we need to serve and the positive way to express that is we have a lot of talented people who are there, so why go too far off-field? I think the inclination early on is, “Let’s go meet the dad and the mom and the family” because it’s an easy way to shed a little light on a character. And we made a conscious effort to really keep it to the group as much as we can to get some solid footing for long-term. Hopefully there is a long-term! [Laughs]

Yes, absolutely. But looking towards the nearer future, what can you tease about the final arc of the season?
SS: The next two episodes, we have some romantic things in the air. That’s really going to be featured the second-to-last episode, but I felt this is not a Sam and Diane/Ross and Rachel-driven show. We in the writers room really felt that if there’s a love story that’s been told — and this sounds awfully pompous — if there is one, it really is between Ryan and the group. So we really wanted to poke at that in the final episodes. I think we did that in a fun way. Kind of question, okay, I’ve spent a year with these people, what kind of value do they bring? Or does the value outweigh the craziness?

We just delivered a final cut of that episode, and when we started doing this show, I wanted to do two things: something that was unapologetically silly and something that was unapologetically sincere. I feel like our best episodes accomplish that and I think our last episode of the year is really going hard at both of those things. And I feel like we pulled it off.

Is the end of the season a cliffhanger, or are you leaving people at a nice place?
SS: No, we leave the sense there’s a lot more to be done and to be learned, but no, it wasn’t built [to be a cliffhanger] — at least this season wasn’t — and I think the one mistake you can make is manufacturing one of those things at the last moment. An audience can smell your fear; they know when things are more trumped up than they merit.

Are you looking towards season 2 storylines at this point? Or are you just trying to catch your breath after finishing season 1?
SS: I’d be lying if I said I’ve given it a lot of thought. We just wrapped, and I just delivered the last cut…But I think in a season 2, we’d probably see some fresh faces in addition to the folks that are there. I think it’s going to be a natural place for Ryan to be [dating]…he’s not a guy who likes to be alone, so I think he’s going to find himself a romantic situation. But…they’re not going to start robbing banks or move to open a scuba shop in Hawaii. I think the template for what the show is is there.

Well, clearly, you’ve just dashed all my season 2 hopes now that I know they’re not going to Hawaii.
SS: [Laughs] Who knows! If it gives us one good story, we’ll go to Hawaii.

Hey, if NBC wants to pay to transplant the entire cast and crew to Hawaii, that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. But in all seriousness, we’ve talked about how this is the kind of show where you could cycle cast members in and out as needed as characters naturally grow out of the group. Have you given any thought about whether all of the regulars would return?
SS: The regulars are there, but there may be some change.

Fair! And you guys do have a big Thursday night try-out for the final two episodes of the season. Are you excited about that?
SS: I am, actually! I mean, to be totally honest, we missed being after THE VOICE. [Laughs] Man, was that a fun ride. And I knew the numbers were inflated there. We were a new show, and it’s ridiculous — it would have been ridiculous to expect those numbers to continue. So you have a lot going against you in the first year; you haven’t become a habit yet. And…it was unfortunate we spent a lot of the year one week on, two weeks off, two weeks on, three weeks off. I would have preferred just to be after THE VOICE for this whole run, because that was what we were initially expecting. It was like, “All right, we’ll suffer through January and February, but we have THE VOICE coming back, we have THE VOICE coming back.”

But, there is something — and I’m happy [we were] held to loving bosom of THE VOICE [for the Courteney Cox episode] — really good about following comedies for the first time. To be part of a comedy night for the first time. I like that. I’d like to see how we fit. I’ll sit and watch the whole night and see if that feels like a thing. And hopefully enough people will join me in watching it, too. That’s as it should be.

At a certain point, you have to start attracting an audience on your own; it can’t all be because you had a cushy time slot as we did. They took really nice care of us the first half of the year: we had the Olympic launch, we had THE VOICE, and now, yeah, let’s see how we do. I think it’ll be a nice fit on Thursday.

It’s tough to launch a show in the best of conditions. Network TV in general has taken a beating the past couple of years, and yeah, this network is struggling right now. The numbers we’re pulling in the absence of THE VOICE, they’ve just been anemic, but they’re in keeping with what the network is doing right now. I try not to worry too much about that kind of stuff, because you could drive yourself crazy worrying about the numbers. We just work really hard and hope we’re making a show people want to see.

GO ON airs Thursdays at 9:30 PM on NBC.

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  2. Travis on April 8th, 2013 1:17 pm

    Scott Silveri has done a great job with Go On and I can’t wait to see how he and the cast wrap up the first season. My biggest concern with the show when it premiered was Matthew Perry’s role as lead instead of support, but I think they’ve done a great job of doing both where viewers care about his storyline and all the other characters as well. I’m still catching up with the last few episodes of the show because my job at DISH has me working nights so I’m never home to watch Go On when it airs. Thankfully I’ve got the show recording automatically for me to my DISH Hopper so that I can watch on my schedule. The Hopper will even skip the commercials that air during Go On instantly with its AutoHop feature so I can watch without distractions.

  3. Sara on April 9th, 2013 3:37 pm

    I’m glad that he realises how much the Ryan/Anne pairing works. I’d be happy if every episode was about their friendship! I love almost everyone else too though. The only ones who don’t work for me are Lauren and John Cho’s character.