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Mr. Sunshine, Episode 1 - "Pilot" (Review)

Mr. Sunshine (2011) poster

Written by : published Friday 25th February 2011

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Watch Mr. Sunshine - “Pilot” Now.


Much like the very aroma of sawdust takes you back to that extremely awkward and enormously haunted “elementary school” phase of your existence, wherein a creepy old janitor sprinkled the magical wooded confetti atop piles of freshly expelled vomit, the thought of Matthew Perry returning to television in a new sitcom is bound to prompt some to think Friends is back with a vengeance.  Indeed, it may even induce outlandish and terrifying thoughts from the very alcoves of your subconscious.  “If Matthew is back,” the worried mind begins to ponder, “Then what is there to stop David, Matt, Lisa, Courtney and that other person from joining him?!”


Despondency follows; and then, madness.  Fortunately, though, Mr. Sunshine -- Mr. Perry’s latest endeavor of the airwaves -- is nowhere near as insufferably sitcom-esque as that of the Friends era.  As a matter of fact, I found it to be a downright enjoyable show (the horror!) upon viewing the show’s untitled pilot episode, which premiered on the ABC Network earlier this February.


As you probably guessed, the titular character in Mr. Sunshine is Mr. Perry, who stars (as well as serves as executive producer) as Ben Donovan: the self-obsessed operations manager at the (fictional) Sunshine Center arena in San Diego.  His boss, Crystal Cohen (Allison Janney), is a public relations nightmare waiting to happen; while his cohort, Alonzo (James Lesure) is a failed basketball star whose reinforced “positive” attitude is so sunny that it borders on mental illness.  The closest thing Ben has to a relationship is through a “friends with benefits” setup with another colleague, Alice (Andrea Anders).  But that all changes when Alice begins to think Alonzo is really the man for her -- to whit Ben finally realizes that he’s all alone in this great big bad scary world on his 40th birthday.


Now, if that weren’t enough to make a recipe for disaster (or, “something closely resembling my own life,” as I like to call it) in your eyes, try throwing in a secretary (Portia Doubleday) who not only set a man on fire once, but who also has an alarming crush on Crystal’s cast aside debilitating man-child of a son, Roman (the great Nate Torrence).  Then, add a traveling circus that’s trying to set up shop despite the fact that the arena floor hasn’t been defrosted from the ice hockey game the night before, and don’t forget about Crystal’s aforementioned public relations nightmare actually coming true (as well as her fear of clowns coming to light with the circus in-house!) and you’ve got yourself one killer of a new comedy.


And Mr. Sunshine even has the best theme song any single television show has ever sported in recent memory to boot: a five-second jingle that deliberately falls horribly out of tune in the last half.


Mr. Sunshine has some fine comical writing going for it.  The single-camera set-up takes us away from the dreaded Friends sitcom approach, making this winner more along the lines of Scrubs (only without the narration).  Who knows?  Maybe Mr. Sunshine could turn out to be the next Scrubs?


Only time will tell, I guess.  Until then, however, I can safely say that Mr. Sunshine is probably the finest new comedy on American television.  And if that’s not enough to warrant a viewing from you, perhaps you should stick to reruns of Friends.


About the author Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of Adam Becvar, a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. You can stalk and annoy Luigi via blogcritics and Insomniac Entertainment and those trendy social sites, Twitter and Facebook.

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