TCA 2012: Matthew Perry Aims for Comeback with NBC's 'Go On'

"In my effort to have a TV show comeback, the characters have gotten progressively nicer," said Perry.

Matthew Perry is a familiar face at press tour. The Friends alum has headlined multiple short-lived series since leaving the NBC hit – Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60, ABC’s Mr. Sunshine. So he’s got to be hoping that his comeback vehicle is on the horizon.

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Asked why his upcoming NBC comedy Go On might succeed where others failed, Perry allowed that his Mr. Sunshine character, a misanthropic sports arena manager, was just too dark for viewers.

“I gravitate toward broken characters that try to be better,” said Perry. “That guy was just angry. This guy is in denial. The set up is just much better here [for comedy].”

In Go On, which will get a commercial-free preview during NBC’s coverage of the Olympics, Perry plays a sports radio jock who reluctantly attends grief counseling after the untimely death of his wife. 

“In my effort to have a TV show and comeback, the characters have gotten progressively nicer,” said Perry. “He’s a nicer more well-intentioned guy. You certainly want to play a guy that people can get behind and root for.”

The comedy boasts a diverse cast including a grown-up Tyler James Williams (the Everybody Hates Chris star all grown up), who plays a catatonic young man whose brother languishes in a coma. There's also Harold & Kumar’s John Cho, who plays Perry’s boss who refuses to put him back on the air unless he regularly attends the support group meetings. And the support group's characters are equally diverse with Julie White playing a woman grieving for her same-sex partner.

White points out that when she first read for the part, the character was a straight woman who had lost her husband. After she got the part, creator and executive producer Scott Silveri called her up to tell her the character would now be gay.

“He was kind of hemming and hawing,” said White describing her conversation with Silveri. “And I don’t remember if I said it out loud, but I thought, ‘Oh she’s gay!’”

White added that the change presented a way “to talk about families from a different perspective and how losing your partner is the same kind of grief for everyone.”