I try not to bore you with the details of my job as TV critic—but hey, it’s that or bore you with my TV criticism, right? I did not review last night’s debut of Mr. Sunshine in advance. The reason was not its quality, or my laziness, or lack of interest, but the awfulness of ABC’s streaming-video website for the press. More and more networks stream review episodes online, and most of the sites work fine. ABC’s, for whatever reason, sometimes works OK, and sometimes streams out bits of data in halting squirts, like a near-empty tube of toothpaste. I could have watched the pilot this way, and I would eventually have finished it, but somehow I feel the creators’ artistic intention was for the show not to be watched in ten-second increments over the course of an hour and a half.
In any case, I watched the pilot last night (I’d seen a not-for-review version months ago, which I don’t believe was drastically different), and it was probably just as well for the show’s creators and me that I didn’t review it in advance. What I saw was a sitcom with some charm, some laughs, and an intriguing setting—the back-office of an arena / entertainment complex—but not enough recognizably human characters.
Mr. Sunshine could develop into something, but it needs to somehow distinguish Matthew Perry’s lead character from most every other character Perry (a writer and producer on the project) has played—i.e., an edgy, bemused, sarcastic everyman beset by idiots. It needs to use Allison Janney better than the five-alarm conflagration of crazy she is in the pilot (see excerpt above) and flesh out the supporting characters generally. (Granted, supporting roles are never going to get too much depth in a half-hour pilot, but the coworkers here seem an especially flat collection of numskulls.)
There’s a kind of Scrubs-i-ness to the wacky-coworkers humor, which was one of the least appealing aspects of Scrubs to me; but it may well appeal more to viewers who like that brand of comedy better. If you watched, what’s your forecast?