Mr. Sunshine Recap: ‘Pilot’

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It is still very much midseason, you guys! That means new shows continue coming down the pike so that we may judge them like the court jesters they are, and decide whether they live

Perry plays Ben, the manager of an entertainment arena (The Sunshine Arena, natch) who spends the pilot episode agonizing about his 40th b-day. He is instantly established as a self-centered clownshoes in the opening scene, shown first being mean to a small child and then trying to impress a passing female by saying important-sounding things into his cell phone (“You tell The Boss that I’m the boss around here, okay?”) The way he talks is kind of funny, though. Ben sounds kind of like Chandler Bing doing an impression of Jimmy Stewart if he were from “Southie.” He is also having a fling with Alice (Andrea Anders), the arena’s marketing director. Their self-referential flirty banter was doing the show no favors by the time we get to the show’s amusing afterthought of a theme song.

Soon enough we meet Janney’s character, Crystal, though, and she is a hoot. Crystal is the owner of the arena, a narcotized matriarch character in the mold of Lucille Bluth, except younger and more aloof. Oddly, though, Crystal is having a difficult time acknowledging her son, Roman, a portly cheerful doofus played by Nate Torrance. As we meet the two characters, Crystal is making strides towards letting Roman into her life; he joins team Sunshine in this first episode.

While Perry’s character, Ben, is interviewing Roman for a job, Ben’s buck fuddy, Alice confronts him about walking out on her that morning. The beat where she doesn’t notice the fact that he’s desperately trying to get her attention the entire time she’s talking is as annoying as it is familiar, but the joy on Roman’s face at overhearing such a fiery, sexual speech saves the scene.

We also meet Ben’s assistant at this point, and she appears to be another quirky side character. Heather (Portia Doubleday) is hyperactive and animated. She is quickly revealed to have previously lit a former employer on fire, and so Ben is scared of her. Not so scared that he would fire her, of course, but scared. She is also wildly turned on by Roman, meaning that, in its very first episode, Mr. Sunshine has already threatened to join the storied legacy of sitcoms featuring a Tumblr.