The Morning Round-Up: ‘Go On’ & ‘The New Normal’

Well, TV premieres are starting to roll out as we get deeper into September. The “Sons of Anarchy” premiere was last night, and here’s Geoff Berkshire season premiere review. Meanwhile, after the jump I have quick thoughts on the second episodes of “Go On” and “The New Normal” coming up just as soon as I tell you what “Havana casual” means…

“Go On” returned with a kind of quintessential second episode, where the goal is to repeat the conflicts, themes and jokes of the pilot as much as possible to be sure people – particularly people who didn’t watch the pilot last month – understand what the show is. So again we have Ryan livening up a group therapy session while Lauren clucks, again we have him refusing to listen to her advice and having it backfire on him, etc. I did think it was smart to focus mainly on a couple of other members of the group this time, rather than write material for all of them. The George material was a mixed bag, though: Ryan and his boss desperately searching for something to fool the old blind man was painfully old-fashioned, but George toting all of his possessions around was amusing and George explaining the sounds of basketball to Ryan was a nice, simple moment. I still don’t find the show all that funny, though, and after next week’s episode, it starts going up against sitcoms I’m already invested in. So this may be one where I just come back later in the season (if it’s still on by then) to see whether it’s turned into something better or is still figuring itself out.

“The New Normal,” meanwhile, earned itself a third episode just on Shania’s extended Little Edie impression alone, but I thought there were some other promising signs. Murphy and Adler largely avoided the most irritating, superficial Bryan moments in the pilot – he’s still a narcissist, but seemed more recognizably human overall throughout (particularly in the Lance Bass flashback) – and Ellen Barkin’s appearance was kept to a bare minimum. On the other hand, they still seem to think that Nana being offensive is a joke in and of itself, rather than either having her be clever in the way that she’s offensive or having the other characters be funny in the way they respond to her (like Meathead was to Archie Bunker). While I’m still not super-optimistic long-term based on Murphy’s track record, fair is fair: this was a definite improvement over a pilot I mostly disliked.

What did everybody else think?