Will NBC's incessant Olympics promos for Matthew Perry's Go On actually hurt the show?
It won't premiere until sometime after 11 p.m. tonight, but when NBC unveils the latest comedy from former Friend Matthew Perry, it will be testing one of the biggest debates TV types are having about the orgy of jingoism and self-promotion which surrounds the London Olympic games.
Can repeated exposure during one of the world's most popular sporting events convince people to actually watch NBC's questionable new comedy shows?
On the surface, it's TV 101: Run clever promos for new shows during a popular sporting event, and some viewers are bound to be intrigued enough to check out the show. It seemed to work for NBC's The Voice, which got a preview after this year's Super Bowl, so the Peacock network has doubled down on the concept for it's leading comedies debuting this fall, Perry's Go On, the bro-com Guys With Kids and the quirky Animal Practice.
But the process may actually backfire this time, mostly because the promos are a) not particularly clever and b) so ubiquitous they've left some viewers -- okay THIS viewer -- feeling exhausted with the shows before they even hit the airwaves.
(To say nothing of the network's colossal mistake in airing an Animal Practice promo with a monkey on gymnastics rings just after lauding the success of African American gymnast Gabby Douglas)
The next big test for this idea comes tonight, when NBC offers a commercial-free premiere of Go On after its prime time Olympics coverage. The series features Perry playing the cynical quippy version of himself we've seen in most every other role he's taken -- this time as sports radio host Ryan King, a workaholic struggling to deal with the death of his wife. Sounds sidesplitting so far, don't it?
But his boss, played by Star Trek/Harold and Kumar alum John Cho, insists King attend 10 sessions at a therapy group before he can return to work, prompting the quippy host to unleash the Perry magic. When the therapy leader shows up late to his first session, King gets his new, super-dysfunctional pals to rate their problems in a twisted, NCAA-style bracket of pain, upsetting the future love interest/Type A controlling therapy leader.
The pilot is a predictable, if well-made adventure -- zipping through the set up of King's problem and his resistance to the therapy with a speed required for today's attention-challenged TV audience. But Perry is essentially playing the same, self-centered, nice-guy-struggling-to-show-it character he embodied in ABC's failed comedy Mr. Sunshine -- another game effort that struggled to connect with viewers.
The extra pathos of Go On may solve that problem for Perry and NBC. But if the audience is so tired of seeing the show's snarky one-liners plastered all over Olympics coverage, it may not matter much.
You can judge for yourself, if you care to burn the midnight oil. See a sample below.