The annual rush of new shows is almost upon us, and one of NBC’s hopefully successful series stars veteran sit-com actor Matthew Perry at the head of an ensemble cast. The show tries to embrace comedy while have its foundation built on tragedy and loss. Can Perry and Friends writer and producer, Scott Silveri, team up to make a hit show, or will this series fall flat like many of Perry’s other ventures back into television?The preview episode, which I can only assume is the entirety of the pilot episode, opens up with Ryan King (Perry) trying to ease back into his life one month after the death of his wife by getting back to work, that of a sports radio talk show host. His boss, portrayed by John Cho, makes him go to a counseling session that specializes in helping people transition their lives after tragic events; whether it be a woman losing her cat, a man coming home from the war to find his wife had cheated on him, or an old man who has lost his sight, there is a colorful cast of characters here, and the show sets itself up for a lot of character development.
The script for this episode feels rushed, and tries to make you feel for these characters much quicker than you are able to. One scene in particular wastes what could have been many moments used in episodes for King’s one-on-one interaction with the characters. The ending also feels slightly too happy for the scene immediately before it, in which King opens up to the group.
The characters may be hit or miss in this episode for some people, but I did not have a problem with any of the characters individually. Ryan King is definitely the focus of the show, and at comes off as another Chandler-like character at first, but he seems to have a lot more to him as the show goes on. The ensemble is made up of recognizable faces, some more so than others. No one other than King received too much attention in this episode, so it is hard to judge exactly how well each character will turn out.
The possibility of guest stars, because of King’s occupation, will also help keep the show fresh. The appearance of Terrell Owens was, although short, a very good way to move the story, while also giving actual sports fans a reason to tune in to the show.
As with many of Perry’s past outings, this does at times feel like trying to ride off of the appeal of the Chandler character, but the show shines when it steps outside of that. Right now, the show could either end up being a successful comedy-drama or another disappointing attempt at re-obtaining that Friends fame, but if the script follows the highs of this episode and slows itself down a little, this could end up on a lot of people’s must watch lists, including mine. Overall, it was a solid preview that I would recommend people take the thirty minutes to watch.