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August 31, 2015

'Mr. Sunshine' Moment: Ben Meets His Maintenance Guy ... and He Looks Like Hurley

by Joel Keller, posted Feb 10th 2011 6:15AM
Matthew Perry and Jorge GarciaThere were a lot of interesting scenes that I could have chosen from tonight's pilot for 'Mr. Sunshine.' Not that any of them were particularly funny, but they were at least interesting. But I chose this scene, from the first five minutes of the show, because it points out two things that I hope aren't a trend: 1) it's a gratuituous attention-getting cameo, and 2) it replaced a scene that was pretty bad, but didn't improve on it all that much.

In the scene, Ben (Matthew Perry), an arena manager who cares about no one but himself, finds out the ice from the previous night's hockey game hasn't melted yet. So he turns to his maintenance manager, a guy named Bob (Jorge Garcia), to find out what's wrong. Only, he has no idea that the guy's name is Bob, so he fumbles with names like Bob, Bobbinson, and Bobbert, and all Bob does is say yes. Why? Because that's what Ben has told him to do, even when he asks non yes or no questions.

I know Perry is a huge 'Lost' fan, and the opportunity of having Garcia on the set for even one episode was probably intriguing. But, unless Garcia is joining the cast, this is a gratuitous celebrity cameo, something a show shouldn't have in it's pilot episode. You're trying to establish the setting and the "family" of the show in this pilot; why have a cameo from someone who isn't going to be there the rest of the time? It just confuses people; "Where's Hurley?" is something I'm sure people will ask if they watch the next few episodes and he's not there.

This scene, among others, wasn't in the original pilot. It replaces a scene where Ben goes out to the ice to see a bunch of his maintenance workers looking at the unmelted surface. He calls to the head of maintenance (played by a different actor) and calls him "José" or some other Latino name. Even when the maintenance guy objects, saying he's worked there for years and Ben still doesn't know his name, Ben says, "I call all of you "José.""

Yes, the scene is borderline offensive: It's not that Ben's racist; he just doesn't care to learn anyone's names. But it least had a little bit of bite to it. This new scene doesn't. In fact, there was a lot about this new version of the pilot that took the edge off Ben's personality that was there in the original, which isn't a good sign. There's nothing wrong with making Ben abrasive and unlikable if Perry owns it; say what you will about 'House,' but Hugh Laurie makes it work because he embraces the bastard that is Gregory House. Perry needs to do the same with Ben.

As my colleague Mo Ryan said in her review, one episode does not a series make. So, perhaps this clunky pilot will just be the thing we look back on as a curiosity of 'Mr. Sunshine's' long run. But, for now, it's not a good start.

'Mr. Sunshine' airs Wednesdays at 9:30PM ET on ABC.

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Watch the full episode here:

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Was Garcia's appearance only a cameo? That's disappointing. His scenes with Perry were the highlights of the episode.

February 10 2011 at 3:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Raked's comment

Bah! I knew I should have read more thoroughly before responding. It looks like it's still in question as to whether Garcia was just a cameo, based on your post. Now I see why they didn't advertise that he was in the series.

Personally, I thought he was a great addition. The cast in general is great (even if the writing needs some work), and he'd be a lot of fun. I hope they sign him on for good.

February 10 2011 at 4:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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