February 10th, 2011
11:11 AM ET
Matthew Perry made his long-awaited return to half-hour comedy Wednesday night on ABC's "Mr. Sunshine," coincidentally in the same time slot as Courteney Cox's hit series "Cougar Town."
Perry plays Ben Donovan, who manages San Diego sports arena the Sunshine Center (hence the name), and his demeanor most of the time can best be described as frazzled (and not at all sunny, get it?).
He works for Crystal Cohen, played by Allison Janney (who is pretty much great in everything). As usual in most workplace comedies, she's not exactly easy to work for, and hasn't much of a clue about how to interact with most people.
Throughout the first episode, one certainly gets a feeling of chaos, which is likely par for the course in managing a sports arena, especially when a circus is in town. Also, in what was the most obvious possible plot point, an elephant is lost during most of the episode.
Managing a sports arena seems like a new concept, but the feel of the show and a lot of the situations don't. For example, Andrea Anders as Ben's love interest immediately makes one think of ABC's woefully short-lived "Better Off Ted" (and Crystal has quite a lot in common with Portia de Rossi's Veronica from that show). Fun fact: Anders was also Matt LeBlanc's love interest on "Joey."
If there is an actual Mr. Sunshine here, it's James Lesure as the always-positive Alonzo, friend and supposed foil to Ben.
Oh, and for "Lost" fans, Jorge Garcia shows up as the head of maintenance for the arena, but we know he won't be around long, since he's shooting "Alcatraz" for Fox.
So far, they still seem to be working out the chemistry between Perry and the other actors. They're all great, with lots of experience on various other series, but it hasn't quite gelled yet.
More importantly, while a lot of this may have seemed funny on paper, it doesn't quite play that way. I can't say that I laughed once through the entire episode, unfortunately. Still, I wouldn't count out Perry, or the great time slot ABC gave this show, so there's certainly hope for it.
What did you think? Will you watch "Mr. Sunshine" again next week? And did you also see the "elephant in the room" line coming a mile away? Share your thoughts on iReport or in the comments below.
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