Tuesday 20 February 2018

Perry goes on to leave his Friends co-stars far behind

Robert Redford returns to the Watergate scandal in All the President's Men Revisited
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

Go On

Monday, RTE One, 8.30pm

All the President's Men Revisited

Sunday, Discovery, 9pm

Countdown to an Assassination

Monday, TV3, 10pm

If it wasn't for the fact that they invariably earn tens of millions of dollars in the process, you'd nearly feel sorry for anyone who tries to forge their own career after being in a huge sitcom.

But Matthew Perry has, several obligatory stints in rehab aside, developed a solid career and, as he proved in the likes of Sunset 30 and his recurring role on The West Wing, he merits far more credit than any other Friends alum.

There's always a pleasing hint of darkness in his roles, and he certainly brings that to RTE's latest summer import, Go On.

Perry plays Ryan King, a snarky, fast-talking American sportscaster (think Arli$$ mixed with Bulldog from Frasier) whose wife has just died. Concerned about him, his boss forces him to attend mandatory group therapy sessions before they allow him back on air.

It's a similar premise to Community, which sees Joel McHale as the clever outsider forced together with a bunch of misfits.

But, just like Community, Go On is held together by both the strength of the lead and the show's own awareness that it could sink into mawkish mush with one bad line of dialogue.

The script is sharp, the characters, particularly therapist Lauren, whose previous experience is holding Weight Watchers meetings, and Anne, the lesbian prosecutor who is perpetually stuck in the 'anger' phase of grief, all look like they could have their own show around them.

It's early days yet, but this week's opener certainly seems worthy of the praise it received when it first aired Stateside.

Q Watergate remains arguably the greatest political scandal in modern history. And All The President's Men stands not so much as a movie but a seemingly real-time historical document.

It's certainly the greatest movie ever made about politics and this two hour Discovery documentary, which first aired at Sundance earlier this year, returned to the people involved in both the movie and the actual scandal itself.

Produced by Robert Redford, and featuring contributions from those who were there at the time as well as younger commentators such as Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow, it featured some truly remarkable recollections.

Most incredible of all was surely former Nixon speechwriter Ben Stein (you may remember him as the boring 'voodoo economics' teacher in Ferris Bueller, trivia fans) actually crying as he laments the treatment his boss, who was "a saint" in his eyes, was treated.

Still crazy after all these years . . .

Q At one point, possible threats to Woodward and Bernstein were used as evidence of just how desperate some people were to keep the Watergate scandal covered up.

But as Monday's account of the murder of Veronica Guerin (left) proved, John Gilligan's gang were prepared to go where even the Watergate villains feared to tread. It was seen then, as now, as little less than a declaration of war on the State by criminal gangs.

But what went unacknowledged was the fact that for all Guerin's sacrifice, and all the promises the politicians made in the aftermath of her shocking murder, the crime and drugs situation is worse now than it ever was when she was doing her job.

iodoherty@independent.ie

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