Scott D. Pierce: Matthew Perry made me like him almost 30 years ago. His death is a shock.

Also, the new ‘Treehouse of Horror’ episode on ‘The Simpsons’ is very disappointing.

(NBC) Ross (David Schwimmer), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Monica (Courteney Cox), Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) celebrated Thanksgiving in nine different episodes of "Friends."

Many years ago, early in the run of the mega-hit sitcom “Friends,” Matthew Perry and I were standing around chatting about … “Growing Pains.”

You know, the 1985-92 sitcom about the Seaver family that made Kirk Cameron a star. Really.

In 1989, Perry — who died Oct. 28 at age 54 — appeared in three episodes of “Growing Pains” as Carol Seaver’s (Tracey Gold) college-age boyfriend, Sandy. In his third episode, Sandy got in an accident while driving drunk, and — after being seen in the hospital, apparently recovering from his injuries — both Carol and viewers were shocked when he died.

It was a message episode, designed to warn the show’s younger viewers about the dangers of drinking and driving. It was, Perry said, the most attention he’d ever gotten for anything before “Friends,” and he was grateful for that.

What I remember most was just how amiable and chatty Perry was. I liked him. He left a lasting, positive impression on me.

Even earlier, in January 1993, then-22-year-old Perry reflected on the fame he was still hoping to achieve. The star of a new sitcom titled “Home Free,” the then-future “Friends” star said he was “very thankful” that “Second Chance” (later retooled as “Boys Will Be Boys”) — a sitcom he’d starred in when he was just 17 — had quickly crashed and burned. He admitted he had “quite the attitude” at the time, adding that “if I’d become a star from that, I would be robbing liquor stores or something now. Totally ruined.”

FILE - This Sept. 22, 2002 file photo shows "Friends," castmembers, from left, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox Arquette, Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc after the show won outstanding comedy series at the 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. Castmembers of the popular show have announced that five fans will get a chance to watch the reunion taping live. The sweepstakes offer is being presented by The All In Challenge and all proceeds will go to No Kid Hungry, Meals on Wheels and America’s Food Fund, which benefits Feeding America and World Central Kitchen. The minimum bid is $10. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

“Home Free” also turned out to be a failure. But, a little more than a year later, “Friends” premiered, and Perry was a star. (Along with castmates Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer, of course.)

I remember chatting with Perry pleasantly several times during the decade-long run of “Friends.” He made me laugh. He made me think how much he was like his character, Chandler Bing.

Yes, he was considerably less chatty as the years went by, even when it came to promoting his own shows, like “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” “Mr Sunshine” and a reboot of “The Odd Couple.” But I can’t even imagine the pressure he must have felt to somehow recreate the magic of “Friends.” And I wasn’t aware of the scope of his addiction problems. (With the exception of those closest to him, who was?) Most of us — even those of us who want to be famous — would have been worn down by all the attention Perry received during and after “Friends.”

Sonja Flemming | CBS Oscar Madison (Matthew Perry) reluctantly agrees to let Felix Unger (Thomas Lennon), his uptight former college roommate, move in with him after the demise of both of their marriages, on the series premiere of "The Odd Couple."

The news of Perry’s death hit me harder than most celebrity obituaries. Partly because “Friends” is one of my all-time favorite shows; Chandler was my favorite character on that show; and Chandler and Monica’s unexpected romance/marriage was my favorite “Friends” storyline.

And partly because I remember that nice young man chatting with me about “Growing Pains,” and about how happy he was to have landed his role on “Friends.”

Perry brought enormous joy to tens of millions of “Friends” fans as Chandler — a role that will live on in reruns for far longer than I’ll be alive — not to mention his work in other TV series and movies. (I could watch “Fools Rush In” again and again.)

I wish that Matthew Perry could’ve had the happily-ever-after ending that Chandler Bing had. I hope he found some degree of happiness before his untimely death.

(Fox/20th Television) Homer Simpson chases a donut through nuclear waste in "Treehouse of Horror XXXIV."

Disappointing ‘Treehouse of Horror’

After 34 years and 735 episodes, has “The Simpsons” finally run out of creative juice?

I don’t think so. But the 34th edition of the annual “Treehouse of Horror” (Sunday, 7 p.m., Fox/Channel 13) is a major disappointment. I didn’t laugh once while watching the episode, and that rarely happens with “The Simpsons.”

• In the first segment, Bart is turned into an NFT (non-fungible token) and Marge has to go into the blockchain to save him. There’s a pointless voice cameo by Kylie Jenner (and cartoon representations of Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Fallon), and it turns out that the blockchain is a train like the one in ‘“Snowpiercer,” which will only make sense to those who have seen the movie and/or the TV series. There’s an even more obtuse reference to bitcoin.

Itchy and Scratchy make an appearance, as does Poochie, but the segment is tedious.

• The second segment rewrites “Simpsons” history — in the October 1993 episode “Cape Feare,” Sideshow Bob succeeds in bloodily murdering Bart. And then there’s a 30-year flash forward to somebody seeking revenge.

Sideshow Bob episodes have been featured in some of the best “Simpsons” episodes ever. This is not one of them. Even the return of Kelsey Grammer as the voice of Bob, and casting Nelson Muntz as a cop three decades later, don’t help.

• And a nuclear-fuel outbreak that transforms Springfielders into a plague of lazy, beer-loving oafs — pseudo-Homers — is neither scary nor funny. A parody of the the 1995 movie “Outbreak” would’ve been better suited to “Treehouse of Horror VII,” “VII” or “IX” — not “XXXIV.”


(Courtesy | "The Simpsons") For the 34th year in a row, Kang and Kodos appear in the "Treehouse of Horror" episode.

The best thing about this episode is that it continues the tradition of featuring Kang and Kodos, the octopus-like green aliens from outer space, in every “Treehouse of Horror” episode. It’s a brief cameo — a kind and helpful Fox publicist had to tell me where to find it — but at least they’re there.

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