Looking toward the fall, I am already heartened by the NBC series “Go On.” I laughed even more when I watched the premiere a second time than I did the first. And, while the series does not officially premiere until Sept. 11, you can get a look at it next week.
Once upon a time, if a network had a big viewing event like the Olympics to bring in viewers, you would use that opportunity to promote the daylights out of your upcoming shows, hoping that the audience would return to see them post-Olympics. And that can still be effective; my avidly Olympics-watching wife has been intrigued by the promos for “Chicago Fire” and “Revolution.”
But it is no longer guaranteed that promos will be remembered a month later by an audience restlessly channel-flipping, distracted by other bright shiny programs or diverted from their TV sets to their laptops, tablets and phones and all the viewing wonders online. So networks have increasingly made programming available online before on the air or, in NBC’s case, they have opted to preview some shows during the Olympics rather than wait and hope.
Of course, this strategy has risks, too; the use of the Super Bowl as a lead-in for new-show previews proved less than effective over time, and more recent bowls have showcased special episodes of current series instead. But NBC thinks it has a chance to grab some much-needed eyeballs during the Olympics, which brings us back to “Go On.”
The latest sitcom will get a preview on Wednesday night, following Olympics coverage at about 11 p.m. (One listing says 11:08. Writing days ahead of scheduled events, I’d say to set the DVR for 11 and keep it running for at least an hour.) “Animal Practice,” another new comedy, will get the same treatment on Aug, 12, following the closing ceremonies.
And, as I said, you should take a look at “Go On.” It stars Matthew Perry as a sports talk radio host who, after the death of his wife, joins a grief-support group full of people who will need his support as much as he needs theirs. The premiere falters near the end as it tries too obviously to clarify Perry’s character. But before and after that point, it is funny and touching, with another solid performance by Perry. And the cast is stacked with comedy pros such as Julie White (“Grace Under Fire”) and Tyler James Williams (“Everybody Hates Chris”).
Watch it now, and watch it later.