Though it unofficially debuted during the Olympics this summer, Matthew Perry's TV comeback officially begins one week from today on NBC.
The beloved Friends' star's new comedy Go On is kind of like the network's cult-favorite Community, except less weird and sadder. A lot sadder. But that doesn't mean it isn't funny. You know how the old saying goes: We laugh to keep from crying.
Go On (NBC)
Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 11, 9 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: Happy Endings (ABC), NCIS: LA (CBS), Emily Owens, M.D. (CW), New Girl (Fox)
Cast: Matthew Perry, Laura Benanti, Tyler James Williams, Julie White, Brett Gelman, John Cho
Status: We've seen the pilot episode
Sportscaster Ryan King (Perry) is sad, but he's in denial about his sadness. See, his wife died in a car accident and his way of dealing with his grief is by not dealing with it. He just wants to go back to work, but in order to do that, he's forced by his boss to attend therapy. Enter group therapy, led by former Weight Watchers superstar Lauren Schneider (a terrific Benanti).
Perry's dry and wry delivery is perfectly suited for the character and his reactions to the many quirky characters he finds himself surrounded by, which includes Anne (scene-stealer White), a lesbian lawyer struggling to cope with the death of her partner, Owen (Everybody Loves Chris star Tyler James Williams, my how you've grown!), a mostly-silent teen whose brother is stuck in a coma, and the very, very strange Mr. K (Brett Gelman), among others.
Like Community, Perry definitely plays the Jeff-figure (Joel McHale) to the group, the straight-but-funny-man who begrudgingly takes over the group, which will undoubtedly become a second family to all of its members (the final scene totally tugged at our black heart's strings). The therapy group's chemistry is great and we like that the show isn't trying to set up a romance between Ryan and Lauren, which would feel weird and forced in the aftermath of his tragic loss.
While we feel the support group is a bit too bloated (in number of people, not the size of said people), it should be easy for members to come and go, allowing the series to set up a core group we can slowly get to know and love, à la Greendale's study group.
And we love Star Trek's John Cho (who plays Ryan's boss, Steven) more than anyone, but we found the scenes revolving around Ryan's workplace pretty lackluster in comparison to the therapy scenes. Then again, it's hard to live up to "March Sadness," one of our favorite scenes from any pilot this season, which was a brilliant way to get around clunky exposition and a fast means of introducing a lot of characters.
Verdict: DVR. While we really like the show and its ability to find humor in sadness, Happy Endings and New Girl have already treated us so, so good and we're nothing but loyal!
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)