Matthew Perry should be giving himself a pat on the back right about now, but he should also be holding his breath. (He's pulled off weirder states of being as Chandler Bing on Friends.) His comedy pilot, Go On, just became the first pickup of the season at NBC, with an order for 13 episodes.
The series sounds promising enough — a sportscaster who suffers a great loss finds solace in his support group — just imagine Perry as the smug sports guy finally coming to the conclusion that it's okay to get something out of group therapy. However, we've seen this before. In fact, it's almost too familiar. This series is practically an evolution from the last two series Perry tried to get off the ground: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Mr. Sunshine.
Studio 60: Perry played an accomplished screenwriter coming back to the dregs of television in the name of history and friendship. It was basically an excuse for him to bop around haughtily lobbing swift, sarcastic barbs.
Mr. Sunshine: Perry plays an outwardly self-obsessed second-rate sports arena manager. It was basically an excuse for him to bop around carrying his self-loathing and swift, sarcastic barbs as armor.
Go On: Perry plays a flippant sportscaster dealing with loss. It basically offers to combine the gravity of Sorkin's SNL-driven dramedy with the silly, quippy nature of Mr. Sunshine. Perfect progression.
But is the progression enough to keep him on the air? The death of Studio 60 is hardly a Perry specific issue, and if anything Mr. Sunshine was only watchable because Perry was present to keep it afloat. It seems Perry has fine tuned his past projects into this future one, so maybe he's found the magic formula. Either that or it will end up in NBC's whoopsie bucket alongside The Playboy Club and Outsourced.