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by Ethos

Mr. Sunshine – “Pilot” Review

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

These people are a LOT crazier than they look

I can’t really say “Matthew Perry is back!” because he was never really a force to be reckoned with before. He was the best part of the lukewarm smash hit Friends, and a general failure at the box office after that.

But it appears he has taken that exact sentiment and transformed it into a very promising concept for an off-kilter single camera sitcom.

Perry plays Ben Donovan, the manager of operations for a second-tier entertainment arena. He hits his 40th birthday surrounded by an insane boss, Crystal, a friends-with-benefits co-worker, Alice, and an appropriately diverse set of minor characters for Perry to bounce off of.

In terms of shows currently on television, Mr. Sunshine seems to be stylistically and thematically most similar to 30 Rock. It has snappy dialogue, a setting in which pretty much anything can happen, an eccentric boss, a moderately successful main character in their 40s starting to realize their own pitiful existence, and a potential for sincerity among all the complete weird.

For a pilot, I was particularly impressed with how well the episode introduced the premise, characters and their relationship to Ben so quickly and efficiently. Sometimes pilots can feel too calculated or introductory, but Mr. Sunshine worked at a brisk pace. It was able to set everything up and have its own sitcom-worthy plot.

There are the usual staples of two people destined to be “just friends”, but otherwise the dynamics seem relatively fresh. Even the comparisons to 30 Rock are largely superficial.

I mean, you’d never see Jack Donaghy sing a song with the lyrics, “all the blacks, the whites, and the asians” to a group of children before hurling one into a crowd of clowns with axes. And I have a feeling that Crystal Cohen is just getting started and might be the real star of the show.

We’ll see how the season develops, but it’s a promising start, and the setting of an arena means that there are many, many possibilities for crazy shit to happen every episode. We’re already promised lingerie football, so…

SCORE: 8/10