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So, before I went on a mini vacation last week, I was lucky to watch the premieres of two of NBC’s most talked about shows, The New Normal and Go On.

Let’s start with The New Normal.

The show stars Justin Bartha (The Hangover) and Andrew Rannells (Broadway’s The Book of Mormon) as gay couple David and Brian who suddenly decide that they are ready to have a baby. Naturally, they need a surrogate and who better than down-on-her-luck single mom Goldie (played by Georgia King) who desperatly wants to give her daughter, Shania, a better life than what she’s had thus far. The money she will make as a surrogate will be enough for her to go back to school and become a better role model for Shania. What Goldie learns, however, is that David and Brian become part of her family.

Here is the ultimate challenge for this show: The New Normal had to distiguish itself as UNIQUE.

Will and Graceintroduced us to “Jack McFarland,” and it seems that “Brian” just might be loosely based upon “Jack.” Or it could just be that the formula for any comedy that involves a gay couple is “Will” + “Jack” (or “Cam” + “Mitchell” of Modern Family). In other words, one half geeky and seemingly straight and one half flamboyantly over the top. If this is the case, than “Brian” and “David” need to show us that they aren’t “Will” and “Jack.”

Problem 2: Modern Family introduced us to “Mitchell and “Cam” the committed gay couple who have already adopted one child and are working to have another child via surragate – a story line we have seen and are still watching. Because you know you all are going to be checking with Modern Family on September 26. Not to mention, The New Normal is basically just another way of saying Modern Family.

These were my thoughts about The New Normal during the first episode. After the second episode, however, I still have the same qualms about the concept of the show, but I was honestly laughing my ass off. The show is an equal opportunist when it comes to offending just about everyone, so I have to give it props for that. I love a writing team that isn’t afraid to say or express how they really feel about any situation or current event, even if I disagree with their view.

So, all in all, I have to say that The New Normal definitely has potential. Yes, it has some pretty big challenges to over come, but in the mean time it’s worth checking out or at least DVRing or watching on Hulu (it’s going to be tough to compete in it’s Tuesday 9:30 time slot).

Rating: B

Now, Go On was a huge surprise for me! I’m a big Matthew Perry fan, but the critics were insistant on telling me that the show, was well, boring. Therefore, I went into the pilot with low expectations.

Here is the premise. Widower and sportscaster, Ryan King, is forced by his boss (played by the fabulous John Cho of the Harold and Kumar movies, among others) to attend a support group for people suffering from loss. Among the quirky group is a woman coping with the loss of her cat, a lesbian who lost her partner, an elderly man who lost his eyesight, and a divorcee coping with the loss of his marriage. Their mentor, whose training comes from becoming a motivational speaker for Weight Watchers, really wants to help these people, but is clueless on how to do it. Enter “Ryan” into the group and suddenly progress starts to happen.

Mr. Perry is fabulous in this role. Yes, there are times where he reverts to some very “Chandler-esque” deliveries, but that’s okay because I loved “Chandler Bing” then, and I still love him now. He is a part of Matthew Perry and I believe critics should be more accepting of it. What really got me hooked on the show is the amount of heart in one episode. In just one part of a montage, we see “Ryan” curled up in his living room chair because he can’t go to sleep in his own bed at night without his wife. The emotional impact from that one tiny scene had a big impact. In fact, one of the aspects of the show that I’m looking forward to is how each of these odd characters starts to deal with their own loss and their emotional connection with the audience.

Go On is definitely worth watching at least three episodes before deciding whether to stick with it or not. For me, I think I’ll be watching for a while.

Rating: B+

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