[As I've already mentioned, and will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]
Show: "Mr. Sunshine," ABC [MIDSEASON]
The Pitch: "Chandler Bing's Very Special Midlife Crisis"
Quick Response: [I hadn't been planning on doing midseason shows here, but somebody on Twitter asked specifically about "Mr. Sunshine," so I figured I might as well...] The elements are all in place for "Mr. Sunshine" to become a pretty funny comedy. You've got Matthew Perry, Allison Janney and Andrea Anders, all versatile favorites (plus a solid supporting cast). You've got a relatively unfamiliar milieu in the show's sporting arena backdrop. [I'm not saying it's a terrific milieu or that the pilot convinces me that it's necessarily a meaningful milieu, thematically, but I'm sure it's a milieu that hasn't been overexposed on TV. I'm now done saying 'milieu.'] With Tommy Schlamme directing the pilot with his signature walk-and-talks, you get a clear sense of a show that wouldn't mind being thought of as "Sports[Arena]Night." And there were definitely parts of "Mr. Sunshine" that made me chuckle, generally because of those aforementioned elements (and the un-aforemented elephants). What plagues the "Mr. Sunshine" pilot, though, is an obsequious need to over-explain the overall circumstances as if to say, "We promise there's a hook to this TV series. No, really!" See, Perry's character is celebrating his 40th birthday and realizing that he's been self-obsessed for so long that he no longer even knows how to make human connections, a fact I know because his character announces, "All of a sudden, I want to make a connection and I don't have the first clue how to do it" and because multiple characters reference his selfishness and whatnot. It's my suspicion/hope that once "Mr. Sunshine" stops needing to tell us that it's about a selfish guy trying to be less selfish and starts just becoming about a selfish guy trying to be less selfish, I might be able to relish Perry's trademark snarkiness, Anders' trademark perky loopiness and Janney's oddball eccentricities. Portia Doubleday, James Lesure and Nate Torrence also have potential.
Desire To Watch Again: "Mr. Sunshine," like "Running Wilde," is a comedy that feels unformed in its pilot form. And both comedies focus on unformed men trying to improve themselves. And in both cases, I'll give both shows multiple episodes to see how well and how quickly they find their voices. My ideal version of "Mr. Sunshine" makes a really good pairing with Courteney Cox's "Cougar Town." We'll see if that's how the show goes.
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