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Series debut Feb. 7 and Feb. 9: Mr. Sunshine

In television on 02/07/2011 at 9:45 am

(Trailer spoiler alert: In three minutes it basically covers every narrative turn from the pilot so if you want not to get spoiled, don’t watch it. Then again, the pilot overreaches so much, this will save you from having to watch this week’s full episode. But do tune in next week.)

Series name
Mr. Sunshine (ABC site and CTV site)

Debuts
Monday, Feb. 7, 2011 at 8 p.m. ET on CTV and Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011 at 9:30 p.m. ET on ABC

Regularly airs
Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on CTV and Wednesdays at 9:30* p.m. ET on ABC (if you’re taping, it appears that the start time on Feb. 16 is 9:31 p.m. ET so you might want to also record the show after to avoid missing the final scene. Oh, and damn you broadcasters for your start times that drift past the hour and half hour).

Premise
Self-centred lout turns 40 and realizes it’s time to start, ack, caring about someone other than himself. But old habits die hard. Fortunately this particular lout, who manages a large arena in San Diego, is surrounded by a colourful cast of characters.

Primary cast and crew

Matthew Perry (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Friends) is Ben Donovan. He’s an arse. But at least he knows it and wants to change. Now if only he had a clue where to start.

Allison Janney (West Wing) is Crystal, owner of the sports arena that Ben manages. She’s crazy. And inappropriate. With gusts to touchingly wise. Yeah.

Andrea Anders (Better Off Ted, The Class, Joey) is Alice. Let’s call her the romantic interest.

James Lesure (The New Adventures of Old Christine, Lipstick Jungle, Vegas) is Alonzo, former sports star who now works at the arena. Nothing can get him down.

Nate Torrence (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) is Roman, the son of Crystal. He’s very cheerful considering he must have been raised by wolves or whoever stepped in when Crystal was being … crazy and inappropriate.

But what do I know anyway? After having seen the pilot I predict…
I am sick to DEATH of the unrelenting hype for this show. It did not help that large chunks of the pilot episode are impossibly over the top, especially the scenes featuring Allison Janney and her Very Eccentric Arena Owner. Matthew Perry also hammers too hard at establishing his character as absurdly self-involved. And sarcastic. Nearly every line delivered echoed Chandler Bing in my head, as though Perry’s Friends persona was haunting the role. That said, there is a kernel of an interesting character in Perry’s Ben. If he doesn’t go completely soft and if the rest of the characters and stories can lose their overhoned edginess, I could like this a lot more. (I should note that althoguh he was missing from the early version that I saw, the pilot also features a cameo by Lost’s Jorge Garcia. Buzz is strong for his role to be a recurring one.)

Another review
Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly is concerned about the Chandler Bing problem, but is rooting for Perry and Co. to overcome it on the strength of the characters’ potential.

— Denise Duguay

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