'Mr. Sunshine' Moment: Ben Gets Demands From a Pop Star ... Who Looks Like Nick Jonas
by Joel Keller, posted Feb 17th 2011 9:00AM
The second week of 'Mr. Sunshine' is showing that Matthew Perry's pride and joy of a series still has a ways to go to be funny. Allison Janney is working as loopy arena owner Chrystal, but the rest of the cast isn't gelling as well as they should. At least, Perry and his fellow showrunners have toned down the pilot's zaniness a bit and given Ben a few characteristics that make him at least a little bit human. Oh, and they've also made the arena look less depressing, which helps.
While the setting of an arena means the show is ripe for guest stars, either playing themselves or facimilies of themselves, having two guests in two weeks isn't doing the show any favors. However, I will say that Nick Jonas did a nice job playing an overprivileged teen pop star. Hopefully he's not playing from experience.
Ben's been on the job at the Sunshine Arena for ten years, so he's seen folks like Eli Cutler come and go. And as much as he tries to kowtow to the kid, he knows in his heart he can't do it. His attitude comes through in how he talks to Eli, as he not-so-subtly informs him that he's in charge of the entire arena that's going to be putting on his show, so he can't cather to Eli's every whim.
As we find out later, the reason why Eli is such a pain in the tush is because he's not confident in his music and he uses these tantrums as a stalling tactic. But in this scene, at the beginning of the episode, he's just a douche, albeit an apologetic one.
"Here's the problem; I wasn't parented properly and I'm very rich. It's a brutal combination," he says.
Why did he demand season 1 of 'Brothers & Sisters?' Probably because he knew that it wouldn't be so easy to find, unless there was a Target right next to the arena. "Just because they're grown up doesn't mean family gets any easier," he tells Ben about the series. As much as Ben grumbles, he still does what Eli demands, mainly because the rest of the staff is too busy trying to win Chrystal's phony Employee of the Year contest.
This is what Perry is going to have to figure out about Ben. Is he a cranky middle-aged guy? Or is he a nice guy who's just a bit cynical? If he's going to give some depth to Ben, then he can have both sides, as long as it's protrayed in a believable fashion.
It does seem like some of Ben's edginess has been polished down a little bit since the pilot; even the pilot that made the air potrayed Ben with less edge than the original pilot did. But does making Ben more likable make him a more interesting character to watch? So far, the answer is no. But the series has another 8 episodes to figure that out before 'Cougar Town' comes back. Worse shows have been turned around in that timespan, and this show has the talent behind it to do just that.
'Mr. Sunshine' airs Wednesdays at 9:30PM on ABC.
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Watch the full episode here: