‘Go On‘ marks this year’s Matthew Perry television comeback. Hoping to garner more success than Perry’s ‘Mr. Sunshine’ (Cancelled), ‘Go On’ seems to be a comedy grounded less in premise, and more in character. Perry plays Ryan King, a sports radio star who recently lost his wife in an accident that doubles as a texting-while-driving PSA. Reeling from his loss, Ryan is banned from work and forced to attend a grief counseling group. There, he meets a band of odd characters, all frustrated (and in need of a sarcastic, energetic friend, apparently).
The show, which aired it’s first two episodes Tuesday night on NBC, has a great supporting cast, and Matthew Perry is, as always, charming. The main problem is the lack of chemistry between Perry and Laura Benanti, who plays the group leader, Lauren Schneider. The two are supposed to challenge each other and, from what I gathered in the pilot, develop a love-hate relationship while helping the members of the group. However, their relationship in the pilot felt forced and manufactured–especially when Lauren ended up breaking down with Ryan and admitting that her previous experience consists of being a Weight Watchers group leader. Hopefully, this is just an unfortunate plot point that the writers needed to get passed in order to come to an established group environment, so that the supporting characters could get more backstory themselves.
The second episode found a better balance between drama and comedy, as a devastatingly lonely Ryan over-stepped in the group and accidentally sent Sonia (played by Sarah Baker) in a downward, cat-collecting spiral. The episode also focused on George (played by Bill Cobbs), the blind man who was almost declared champion of ‘who’s life is worse’ in the pilot. The pace and how the writers managed to split time between Sonia and George–and, of course, Ryan–felt natural and made me excited to see more of the other members of the group. In particular, I cannot wait to see more of Owen (played by former mini-Chris Rock, Tyler James Williams), the youngest member of the group who forms a connection with Ryan in the very first episode.
As to the fate of the show, only time will tell. It is a solid show so far, but it lacks a rhythm to set it apart. The best parts of the show have been the closing scenes which manage to be simultaneously ridiculous and touching. But, having the high point of the show occur with the credits does not bring in viewers. And, other than the awesome cast (which includes iWatchiAm favorite, John Cho), there’s nothing incredibly insightful or hilarious about the show. It has potential, though, and I think it could develop into something really great. If you’re a Matthew Perry fan, or just want to try out a new comedy that isn’t just about 30something men drinking beer, try it out and let me know what you think!