'Go On' Review: Matthew Perry At His Most Matthew Perry-ness
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Go On Review: Matthew Perry At His Most Matthew Perry-ness

By Dustin Rowles | TV Reviews | September 11, 2012 | Comments ()


Go On, Matthew Perry's latest attempt at a successful return to television following Friends, features Matthew Perry at his most Matthew Perry-ness. He's wise-cracking, emotionally unavailable, and sarcastic, which is exactly what you'd expect from a Matthew Perry sitcom character. I love Perry, but after seeing him play the same character for ten years on Friends, it's hard to get that excited about seeing him play the same character under a different premise surrounded by an inferior supporting cast and a writing staff.

Say what you want about Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, but in that, it was at least nice to see Perry shed a little of his Matthew Perry-ness, though it was on The West Wing and, more recently, The Good Wife that Perry demonstrated that he is capable of playing a different character, and doing so incredibly well. It's only a matter of time before Perry finally succumbs to a meaty, dramatic television role along the lines of Josh Charles' character in The Good Wife, and when he does, that will be remembered as his true television comeback.

Unfortunately, it's probably going to be awhile, because Go On is the exact kind of middle-of-the-road, inoffensive, and mildly enjoyable sitcom that can survive on a disastrously low-rated network like NBC for years. The pilot, which aired for the first time a couple of weeks ago after the Olympics, is very much in the same vein as later seasons of The Office and the last couple of seasons of Modern Family: Watchable, amiable, but mostly uninspiring.

In Go On, Perry plays Ryan King, an "irreverent yet charming sportscaster," which I believe is double-speak for "Matthew Perry." His wife recently died, and instead of dealing with the grief, he pushes through and returns to work before he probably should. His boss, Steven (John Cho), agrees to let him return, but only if he seeks grief counseling.

It is in grief counseling that will be the major focus of Go On. There, he's an unwilling participant in group counseling, which allows the show to present a variety of oddball characters with which Perry can bounce his Perry-ness off of and ultimately experience a breakthrough that he can apply to his job as a sportscaster or, vice versa, his job as a sportscaster will force him to confront an issue with which he'll have to deal in therapy. Laura Benanti, meanwhile, plays the token love interest who doubles as the inexperienced grief counselor who will, no doubt, learn as much from her patients as they learn from her.

Honestly, it's not a bad show, and -- save for the absence of drunk Allison Janney's presence -- it's marginally better than the also mediocre Mr. Sunshine. I'm sure it will do fine in the ratings, but I doubt that the show will rank particularly high on anyone's list of favorite sitcoms. It is enjoyably lackluster, and it may even find stronger footing as the season progresses, but as long as Matthew Perry continues to play Matthew Perry, his sitcoms will continue to suffer comparisons to Friends and they will all come up lacking.

"Go On" officially premieres tonight on NBC.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Joan

    Ok , have seen three episodes. Each one starts out so-so and I think I'm done watching; then the last scene in each episode is killer, funny, quirky, and touching.

  • Well said.I saw the first episode and felt the exact same thing.
    The biggest mistake Studio 60 made was to not go to HBO or Showtime (Sorkin's learnt from his mistake as is evident from The Newsroom).

    Matthew Perry should definitely do more stuff like Studio 60,his short stint on The Good Wife & The Ron Clark Story,which to me,was his best performance to date.
    Ben from Mr.Sunshine and Ryan from Go On are unfortunately,nothing much more than Chandler aliases. :-\

  • Amanda

    Come on. The bit at the end with the Google car? That was hilarious and sweet as hell.

  • Kate

    Second episode was a huge improvement. Much better pacing.

  • Stephen Nein

    Drunk Allison Janney? You have my attention. That has to be fantastic, or horribily, horribly pathetic.

  • So basically its that Common Law show which just wrapped up on USA? Minus the buddy cop dynamic, that is.

  • jane

    This is a bad show. A very, very bad show. I can at least leave the tv on while episodes of Modern Family and The Office are on even if it's just for background noise until my must-watches are one. But this? Couldn't do it. I had to change the channel.

  • Taylor

    I love Matthew Perry and will give anything he does a chance, but this review isn’t giving me any optimistic feelings about this new sitcom. I’ve been so busy with my job at Dish that I haven’t been able to watch this yet. I keep putting it off, mostly because of reviews like this one. I’m sure I’ll give it a few chances once it’s airing regularly, and fortunately for me I’ve got a Hopper, which will let me record Go On and Happy Endings at the same time. Happy Endings is the only show on TV that I really care about right now, so I’m glad I don’t have to worry about the time slot forcing me to choose between them. I’ll be sad if this show doesn’t take off, mainly because I’d love a chance to watch Perry be Perry on a weekly basis again.

  • mrcreosote

    I took a bunch of heat the last time I mentioned that perhaps Mr.Perry should exit the stage because he keeps getting the opportunity to play smudgier and smudgier xeroxes (tm) of the same character. Perhaps if we contrast him to Bryan Cranston an actual GOOD actor we'll see that you can in fact go from playing an iconic character on a long running quality sitcom to a dramatically different character and blow everyone's doors off. In other words you Mr. Perry are not fit to hold Mr. Cranston's jock strap. So please just stop with the ensemble nonsense.

  • kirbyjay

    I gave Mr. Sunshine a shot because it's Matthew Perry and if you don't love Matthew Perry then you don't love America, even though he's Canadian. Other than Matthew Perry and Alison Janney, the cast was utterly and extremely forgettable and the writing was....well, I'll say this, I don't remember what one epidode was about and I watched about 6 of them.
    I watched Go On last night and it looks like it could be a keeper. It has the funny but it also has the heart, and the cast, especially Julie White ( is that her name, the one from Grace Under Fire) was intriguing. I say everyone should watch it, just because we love Matthew Perry and because Matt LeBlanc got his shot with Episodes.
    Also, is it set in Boston? There were quite a few Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins references but I don't remember if the locale was mentioned.

  • dizzylucy

    I thought the first one was OK, I'll give it a few chances.
    I hope it doesn't go the cliched, predictable route, but we'll see. I think there could actually be some interesting, more dramatic than comedic, bonding amongst the grievers, but NBC really pushed it as a sitcom.

  • Ian Fay

    I caught this show that one night after the Olympics and quite frankly did not like it.

    There's some really dumb stuff in it, like Matthew Perry being George Hamilton tan despite supposedly being a shut-in after his wife's death, and his employer supposedly being able to keep him away from work a month after she died (WTF?) and the general nonsensical nature of the therapy itself.

    In addition, there's the by the numbers sitcom stuff like the UST with the therapist and the boilerplate Kramer-alike.

    The real problem I had, though, was the tone.

    The show gave me whiplash switching back and forth from broad, Two And A Half Men style comedy to deadly serious, dark meditations on grief. Several times an episode.

  • Could this review BE anymore accurate? The first episode was okay, but nothing earth shattering. I'll watch it if I come across it, but won't be searching it out or programming it in my DVR.

    I guess what I really want is Matthew Perry in a Chandler Bing-centric spin-off, like Frasier or The Jeffersons.

  • Kate

    I would watch Matthew Perry in anything (the fact that I've willingly sat through Serving Sara and The Whole Ten Yards will attest to that), but I honestly quite enjoyed Mr Sunshine (it started getting good an episode or two before it was cancelled and the unaired episodes were great), and I think Go On could be interesting. There were some pacing issues and the ending was way too broad, but there were some promising bits in there. Admittedly I'd be a lot more excited if it was on Showtime or HBO, but there were a few dramatic moments that were more raw than you'd usually expect from an NBC sitcom, so I'm hopeful.

    Perry's sarcastic demeanour is always going to link him back to Chandler, but pretty much everything he's done since Friends ended has been a departure from that character. Chandler was an incredibly awkward, insecure, lovable mess, whereas characters like Ben in Mr Sunshine and Ryan in this are confident and arrogant to the extreme. I may be biased, but Perry's one of those actors that whilst I can see the similarity of the roles he plays, I always forget all about that when I'm watching him.

  • Javier

    this is going to air at the same time as Happy Endings, right?

    yeah, I'll probably DVR a couple of episodes but I'm sorry MAtthew, I gave Mr. Sunshine a chance but unless I don't hear otherwise I'm sticking to what's working

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