I’ve always been a fan of Matthew Perry. From his early days as a messed up guy on Beverly Hills 90210 to the obvious favourite – Chandler Bing (aka Miss Chanandler Bong) on Friends, I was even one of the few who actually really loved Aaron Sorkin’s short-lived Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and was sad when it was canceled.
I’ve been hoping for a long time that Perry could find a new long-term role, a new show all his own. I watched the first episode of Mr. Sunshine he tried to make last year, but didn’t like it and it didn’t last long before being canceled. But after what I hear was a very well done stint on the Good Wife, he’s back with a new pilot called Go On, which aired as a special NBC preview last night after the Olympics. A little late, airing at 11pm last night I finally got a chance to watch it tonight. I hadn’t seen any promos and read very little about the show, except that it was supposed to be about dealing with grief, so I really had no idea whether I would like it or not – but I actually really did.
Matthew Perry stars as Ryan King, a sports radio broadcaster dealing with the recent loss of his wife in a tragic accident. After being told to attend mandatory counseling by his employers (a well cast John Cho), Ryan joins a transitions support group and more or less rolls his eyes at everyone. As the reluctant joiner, he is quick to judge and make a joke, believing he doesn’t really belong there. Of course, we all know that’s not true.
What I liked about this show was its ability to be funny, but sad at the same time. The members of the support group are particularly intriguing, like Julie White (Grace Under Fire) has anger issues; the group’s leader has no real credentials, and another really weird guy whose deal I haven’t yet figured out quite yet. But what really sold it for me was the developing relationship between Perry’s character, Ryan and timid group member Owen (Tyler James Williams from Everybody Hates Chris). I was particularly struck by his story and his quiet way, and I laughed when they ran after the Google car together dressed up in stolen LARP (Live Action Role Play) gear.
This show seems to find a balance between humour and an earnest way, which are two things I loved most about Chandler and Matt Albie, it’s where Perry really thrives. I think the fact that the support group leader has no expertise and that Perry’s wife died from texting while driving, were strange choices, but there’s unlimited potential where this series could go and I will be watching to see what happens.
Maybe it’s because I’ve experienced loss myself that this show seemed to resonate, maybe I just like people being brought together in a comical way – but Go On was a pleasant surprise and I really hope that viewers get behind it this fall so it can go on (pun intended).