We’ve had a look at the weird history of a Matthew Perry sitcom before, but he appeared in a number of shows before Friends too. His first sitcom experience was an episode of Charles In Charge called The Wrong Guy, so we’ll skip that one.
Next he appeared in Silver Spoons, an NBC sitcom that ran for five seasons between 1982 and 1986, which was a sort of Diff’rent Strokes clone.
After the weird shernanigans of Boys Will Be Boys/Second Chance, Perry popped up in an episode of Just The Ten Of Us. Weirdly, the only clip I can find of this actually features Matt LeBlanc.
This series was a spin-off from Growing Pains, which Perry also appeared in for a few episodes. This is a sitcom that also featured Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio.
That same year, Perry wandered into an Empty Nest episode too.
A year later, and Perry was cast as a main character in Sydney, alongside Valerie Bertinelli and Craig Bierko. This CBS sitcom ran for half a season of 13 episodes, and was about a family who relocated their New York detective agency to their old hometown. The genre mash-up is evident in the weird mix of sitcom titles and gritty cop show titles.
When that ended, Perry made a cameo on Who’s The Boss?, the US original that spawned The Upper Hand.
It must have been his appearance on Dream On that really bought him to the attention of the Friends producers. Dream On was their show before Friends, and I remember it fondly, having watched it on a small portable TV late at night in the mid 90s.
He also made an appearance that year on Sibs, the short-lived ABC sitcom from the producers of The Simpsons.
The year before Friends, Perry found himself on the regular cast of yet another sitcom, this time the ABC one called Home Free, which was bookended by The Wonder Years and Home Improvement, where it failed to find an audience and was cancelled after half a season.
You can briefly see a shot of Perry appearing on Home Improvement there, in a shot from the episode Ex Marks The Spot, which aired in April of 1993.