The new sitcom Mr. Sunshine has a heck of a set of creative folks involved. In front of the camera is Matthew “Friends” Perry, Andrea “Hey, I started in the only spin-off of friends” Anders, Alison “amazingly talented actress and sexy in ways that a still photo would never carry” Janney, and Jorge “the best thing on Lost” Garcia. Behind the camera is Thomas Schlamme, the less-known player who deserves a good part of the credit for the creative successes of Sports Night and West Wing and no visible blame for the disappointment of Studio 60. Clearly, this is an ambitious show. The setting is an aggressive one – Perry is the manager of a stadium, which means it’s a setting for interesting but large and costly-to-film things to take place.
Perry is a downbeat misanthrope, balanced by the overly upbeat James “handsomest guy on Las Vegas who I somehow forgot to mention above” Leisure playing a role that would usually be covered by a petite blonde woman, facing post-sexual tension with Anders, an insane owner played by Janney, and various underlings. It’s a slick look at a poorly-oiled machine. The delivery is pretty constant,never pausing, in some ways like Sports Night… but unlike that show’s collection of smart characters, here the smarts almost all rest on Perry’s character, which makes him snide rather than someone talking on the level of those around him. That would be fine, if it were consistently amusing, but this was funny in fits and starts, and simply obvious and predictable at other times. There are pieces here, but it may take some time to figure how they fit together. It shows some of the problems of the early 30Rock; with luck, it will work them out just as that show did.