'Mr. Sunshine' review: Matthew Perry's new gig makes us miss Chandler Bing
Perry plays Ben Donovan, a self-described "emotionally broken" man who manages a sports arena in San Diego. On his 40th birthday, Donovan has a bit of a breakthrough, realizing that he's selfish, narcissistic, and unreliable. Unfortunately... he's also not very funny. Sure, we love seeing Perry on our TV, and there's a certain comfort in his familiar Chandler Bing sarcasm, but it's not actually enough to make us sympathize with his character. There's probably a "Friends" rerun playing on some other channel, anyway.
The character makes a few vague attempts to change his ways, like offering to commit to co-worker Alice ( Andrea Anders), who he's been sleeping with while seeing other people. The efforts are half-hearted, and by the end of the episode, Ben's remains unappealing.
The owner of the arena, Crystal ( Allison Janney) is even less fun to watch. She's a racist pill-popper with a clown phobia that sets up an incredibly obvious punch line, since -- of course -- the circus is in town. Imagine Michael Scott, highly self-medicated, in heels, with money, on a power trip. It's less pretty than that.
The characters don't have interesting relationships with each other -- you get the impression that these people work together, hate it, and don't spare each other a second thought once they've left the arena for the day.
Here's the thing -- we still love Perry, and so does America. Give us a reason to get emotionally invested in this character and his acquaintances, and we'll still tune in. We did laugh once or twice -- the clown joke got us, okay? -- and a "Modern Family" lead-in just may give the show the head start it needs.