‘Go On’ review: Matthew Perry’s return to NBC combines humor, heart

Matthew Perry, we’ve missed you.

While “Go On” — which aired a sneak preview of its pilot on NBC following the Olympics Wednesday night — is not necessarily a show that is Emmy-worthy just yet, it seems as though the one-time star of “Friends” may finally have a vehicle worthy of his talent following the failures of “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” and “Mr. Sunshine.” It has its share of funny moments, but most importantly the show does just enough at bringing in some of the darkness within Perry’s capabilities — something seen in full effect on “The Good Wife” — to make this more than just another silly comedy. There is heart here, and there could be something that even viewers could find┬átherapeutic.

On premise alone, you have to say that this is not entirely original. We have a successful man named Ryan (Perry) who is forced to attend therapy by external forces, though with him it is to help deal with the loss of his wife. The tragedy here is an obviously element of the show that is not ignored, but there is also some joy in watching some of the other people taking part in this practice to overcome loss. Yes, it’s the same sort of “quirky characters” that we have seen in everything from “Community” to “Anger Management,” but thankfully the crew so far seems closer to the former than the latter in terms of creativity and avoiding one-note stereotypes.

We really can’t give “Go On” credit for being original — the overall arc of the pilot was tired, mostly because we’ve seen the story about a reluctant curmudgeon learning to accept that he needs help time and time again. What we will praise, meanwhile, is that there was enough to fill in the cracks here that was original. Booking Terrell Owens was a nice touch for the pilot to show that Ryan actually talks to real athletes as a sportscaster, and the idea of staging a grand even for Google Earth was something that we haven’t quite seen before on TV. Even Ryan’s lie about how his wife died at first was something we did not see entirely coming.

When it comes to comedies, we generally accept that they take time to find their footing — just look at “30 Rock” or “Parks and Recreation.” With that in mind, we really just ask ourselves when reviewing comedy pilots if we would want to watch beyond one episode — and with “Go On,” we would. It’s a little too by-the-numbers still, but Perry is funny and we like the show taking on the idea that you can find comedy within heartache and loss. It’s something that will appeal to everyone, and could give NBC a half-hour show that is watched by more people than the average repeat audience of “The Big Bang Theory.”

In the end, there’s potential here — and like with Perry’s Ryan, we’re going to stick it out for a while.

Did you enjoy the “Go On” premiere, and would you watch again? We want to hear your thoughts below! If you want to check out its place on the all schedule, be sure and check the link here.

Photo: NBC

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