One of the first shows out of the gate for the new fall season was NBC’s Go On, Matthew Perry’s latest attempt to stay in our living rooms. I think, and hope, he’s finally got a winner. On the face of it, a show about Ryan King, a grief-stricken sports talk radio host doesn’t sound like a winner, but it’s what the solid ensemble cast does with the concept that makes it so unique.
Perry is the heart of the show, but in a very, very savvy move, he’s not ALL of the show. He’s the entry point into a cast of characters who form the grief support group he’s forced to attend after his wife dies (while texting him to get milk as she’s driving home).
That the group is led by Lauren (Laura Benanti), a woman whose only prior group training was as a successful Weight Watchers counselor, is hilarious in itself, but she’s effective at what she does for King and the members of the group, an ethnically diverse gathering of all ages, sizes, sexes, and orientations. His BFF was added after the pilot and is played by the very funny, and a great fit for Perry, John Cho. My only nit is that the fabulous Bill Cobbs hasn’t been seen in a couple of episodes.
The show unspooled as a teaser during the Summer Olympics and then debuted immediately following. I caught the pilot in a rerun and have been watching every week since because it’s funny, it’s sensitive, it’s sweet, and it’s very real about where your head is when you’re grieving the loss of a loved one (human or animal) as the world goes on around you.
I was the same age as the characters on Friends during its run so I’m very, very fond of all of that cast, and particularly Perry, so I’m thrilled to see him back in something that taps what we loved about Chandler but is still a separate character. The show was created by Scott Silvestri, who was a producer for most of Friends‘ run, and he’s definitely writing to Perry’s strengths.
It’s been a long time coming, and I hope this is the one that sticks. NBC seems to hope so, too. Yesterday, the show was given its back nine pick up for a 22-episode first season.