Thursday, July 22, 2010
Not for review: ABC's "Mr. Sunshine"
"Not for review" is an occasional series of pieces in which I offer my thoughts on the pilots for this year's new shows. These are not reviews, as many of the pilots sent to press aren't final versions. Roles can be recast; scenes can be re-edited and many other changes can be made. These are simply my first impressions based on watching early versions of the shows.
The show: ABC's "Mr. Sunshine"
The premise: Ben (Matthew Perry) manages the Sunshine Center, a successful but rundown arena that hosts everything from sporting events to circuses. A loner by design, Ben is starting to reconsider the way he's constructed his life, particularly when it becomes abundantly clear that his way of living has left him alone and disconnected.
My thoughts:Wow, there is a whole lot of wacky going on here. This early version of the pilot features clowns with axes, a roaming elephant and Alison Janney singing an inappropriate, fairly racist song. Perry, though engaging and funny as always, seems like little more than a quip machine here. But there is potential in this show. By episode's end, Perry's performance seems to have leveled off a little and he seems to be playing a human being, not just a delivery mechanism for jokes. Meanwhile, Janney is an utter hoot as Perry's loopy, insensitive boss. Unlike Perry, she finds the balance between realistic characterization and joke delivery instantly (plus, it's nice to see her looking glam and polished again after her role as Nameless Mysterious Island Woman on "Lost"). I would watch this show again, but it needs find a smoother, less strident tone.