No matter what Matthew Perry does for the rest of his career, people are always going to associate him with Chandler Bing (or even Chanandaler Bong). It’s something he cannot escape any more than Owen can escape the allure of his uncle’s Kit-Kat lasagna. While it’s probably not a bad thing for a show’s promotion (Come see Chandler deal with the death of his wife in humorous ways!), it’s a role that can color his performance for those that are familiar with his work for better or for worse.
In the case of Go On, the show really seems a lot stronger when Perry is not in “Chandler-mode.” Chandler-mode isn’t unfunny in a vacuum, but it doesn’t fit within the context of this show. In a show about a man seeking help to deal with the grief of a lost loved one, the lead character needs to be more grounded and humanized. While the show could play the more manic levels of Ryan King as compensation for the grief, the show has yet to address that as a possibility. The scene with Lauren and Wyatt in the restaurant at the start of the show screams overcompensation, but I’m not sure if I’m supposed to believe it’s Perry’s character or Perry himself who is compensating.
That being said, when they bring Ryan King back down to the earth, the show is really engaging. The character remains witty and occasionally laugh out loud funny, but he comes off as less of a cartoon character. Perry can do some really great things when he gets serious about helping out another member of the group (as with Danny tonight), talking life with George, or recounting stories of Janie. I can understand the need to have Chandler-mode in the show. As long as they keep its usage rate around 15%, no harm will be done.
The rest of the group remains perfectly serviceable, but the return of George was noteworthy. What made it noteworthy was that his absence was noticed for the previous few episodes (Getting people to notice when you’re gone is a good sign for your character. Isn’t that right, Rashida Jones?). They clearly only had him for so many episodes, so they have to pick their spots with him. With all of the one-note crazy people within the group, the show seems to rely on George and Anne to mix the insanity of the group with occasionally sincerity that Ryan King requires to have his various breakthroughs. Fortunately for the audience, the actors have been up for the challenge to this point in the series.
We keep talking about Go On taking steps to becoming a really solid sitcom. This week definitely seemed like a step in the right direction.
What did you guys think of tonight’s episode?