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Thursday 14 December 2017

Perry, a friend in need of a hit

After two axed sitcoms, witty Matthew Perry is due success with Go On, says Pat Stacey

You'vE got to feel a little sorry for Matthew Perry. Once regarded as the Friends cast member most likely to make it big on his own, he's suffered one knockback after another.

None of his solo projects has lasted more than a single season. In 2006, the pairing of Perry and West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin on the "dramedy" Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip seemed like a match made in heaven.

Initial reviews were ecstatic. And then the viewing figures came in. After that, the backlash started, with the vapid Entertainment Weekly, which changes its views as often as David Beckham changes his hairstyle, eventually naming it the worst TV show of 2006. Studio 60 was axed.

Last year came Mr Sunshine, an ironically titled sitcom starring Perry, who was also one of its writers, as a harried, lonely, self-loathing sports arena manager who realises he's never really cared about anyone but himself and sets out to make amends. Alas, he never got the chance.



cancelled

Mr Sunshine was cancelled 13 episodes into its run, with the remaining four unaired in the US. The series has never been shown here or in Britain.

Along the way, Perry's attempts to crack the movies have been less than spectacular. His last big-screen effort, 2009's 17 Again, had him essentially playing second fiddle to, as well as the older version of, Zac Efron.

Perry must look at some of his Friends co-stars and wonder why he's been dogged by such bad luck. Hollywood studios continue to pay the charm-free Jennifer Aniston to star in one dire romcom after another.

After a mediocre start, Courteney Cox's sitcom Cougar Town has been tweaked into a hit. Matt Le Blanc eventually recovered from the disaster that was Joey to score a hit -- and win an Emmy and a Golden Globe -- for the slightly self-satisfied Episodes.

Perry's latest bid to break the Friends hoodoo is Go On, which starts on Comedy Central later in the year. He plays a cocky sports presenter who reluctantly goes into group therapy to cope with the death of his wife.

If it sounds unpromising on paper, the trailer online suggests differently; Go On looks hilarious. Perry is a talented performer with a delicate touch that's always been under-appreciated. He's an immensely likeable presence, his comic timing is superb and he has a natural quick wit.

His well-documented struggles with drink and drugs have made him, if anything, more sympathetic. Like Robert Downey Jr, who rebounded from rehab into fresh success, you don't just like to see Perry doing well. You want him to.

>TEACHER'S PET HATE: Reality TV star Kim Kardashian (pictured left) is responsible for the decline of Western civilisation.

At least that's what Dr Helen Wright, headmistress of the exclusive, £30,000-a-year English school St Mary's Caine thinks. "Almost everything that is wrong with Western civilisation today can be summed up in that one symbolic photo of Kim Kardashian on the front cover of Zoo magazine," she said. "The descent of Western civilisation can practically be read into every single curve."

Phew! These wackademics really know how to stir it up, don't they? She's going a bit over the top, though. I mean, everyone knows who's responsible for the decline of Western civilisation: Paris Hilton.

>WIT AND WISDOM: Sad news. Clive James is terminally ill. In an interview on BBC Radio 4's Meeting Myself on the Way Back, due to be broadcast today, James, who was diagnosed with leukaemia and lung disease two years ago, says: "I'm getting near the end. I'm a man who is approaching his terminus."

James is a true Renaissance man: a prolific journalist, broadcaster, novelist, memoirist, poet, cultural critic and commentator. He'll probably always be best remembered, though, for his wonderful ITV series Clive James on TV and for his fantastically witty TV reviews for The Observer. He set the bar so high you had to squint at the sky just to see it.

>SORE POINT: In a week when the news was littered with tragic stories, The Irish Sun got its priorities right by leading Thursday's front page with something really important: Simon Cowell is sporting a mysterious plaster behind his ear.

Has the modern-day Narcissus had plastic surgery? Maybe. Or maybe it's evidence of the mind-control implant he uses to dictate the thoughts, such as they are, of witless X Factor viewers and Sun readers.

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