Monday, February 14, 2011

Pilot Review: Mr. Sunshine

Mr. Sunshine (ABC)
Premiered February 9 at 9:30pm

Maybe it’s not fair to all of the actors from “Friends” to have their new shows judged in relation to their previous show’s success and their cohesive failure to follow up on it with any real luck. Courtney Cox is currently winning the contest as her show, which has vacated its time slot to make way for this new series, has already been renewed for a third season. Cox did have her own cancelled show before that lasted just over as season, as did Matt LeBlanc (currently doing well playing himself on Showtime’s “Episodes”), Lisa Kudrow, and Perry himself. You can find Jennifer Aniston in plenty of bad movies and David Schwimmer sometimes behind the camera but mostly nowhere. Back to the show at hand, the “Friends” reference is important because Perry is essentially playing Chandler, transplanted from his job as a trasponster to a TV executive job. What’s especially disappointing about this is that Perry has demonstrated that he’s capable of more challenging dramatic acting in the past. It may be that Aaron Sorkin has the magic touch, as he was responsible for penning Perry’s twice-Emmy-nominated guest spot on “The West Wing” (at least the teleplay of the first episode, according to IMDB) and his follow-up show “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.” I would have loved to see Matt Albie reappear on his own show, but taking Chandler out of context is like (though nowhere near as horrific as) “Joey.” On top of Perry’s uncreative portrayal, there isn’t much to this show. I don’t really understand what the pilot is supposed to be, since I believe it’s supposed to be showcasing a major event in Perry’s life, and I just don’t quite get it. There isn’t a strong character to be found anywhere on this show either, which is a shame. Allison Janney is given free reign to play the wackiest character she can, and that’s too bad because she’s extraordinarily talented and should have a much better part. Andrea Anders is replicating her role from “Better Off Ted,” but again, the writing is nowhere near the same quality. I’m curious whether Jorge Garcia, better known as Hurley from “Lost,” will become a regular player much the same way that Neil Flynn’s Janitor on “Scrubs” went from a one-episode bit part to a full series star. If I hear have to hear one more joke about a literal elephant in the room, however, I’m going to lose it.

How will it work as a series? No clue. I don’t understand what this show is about besides a dysfunctional network. It’s not a laugh-out-loud comedy, more of a subtler, uncertain, unfunny series that tries to imply whatever it wants to say without wanting to press it much more than physically demonstrating it. There are many places to go with this kind of show, but if they’ve already gone as big as elephants in just the first episode, we’re in serious trouble.
How long will it last? I guess having Chandler in your show makes people want to watch it. The ratings were better for this pilot than they were for “Cougar Town.” I suspect, however, that the ratings will drop drastically in the coming weeks giving the poor reviews for the show, and the important thing that sustains ABC’s Wednesday night comedy block is that people actually like the shows. I don’t think that will be the case here, so I’d figure that this one goes out at the end of its first season.

Pilot grade: C-

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