ABC's Mr. Sunshine ended its freshman run last night with "Ben and Vivian," which I feel is probably its best episode yet. Things really flowed well, and chemistry was improved by the addition of a great guest star. While a decision about renewal has not yet been handed down, things aren't looking that great for the series. That's too bad, because like many new sitcoms, I think Mr. Sunshine just needs a little time to really work out the best road map for itself. Obviously, the cast is terrific, and the setting is fun and unique. If any new bubble show this year could use a second chance, I vote for this one.
One change I would like to make, should Mr. Sunshine get a second season, is to make Lizzy Caplan (Party Down, True Blood) a series regular. Caplan guest stars this week as Vivian, Crystal's (Allison Janney) new assistant. She falls into bed with Ben (Matthew Perry) the night before she begins work, and once they realize they now inhabit the same office, begin a friends with benefits relationship. Ben falls for her, but she rejects his need of something more.
Ben's growth through season one has focused on his ability to get in touch with emotions and forge a real relationship. When we meet him, Ben is in a similar benefits deal with Alice (Andrea Anders), but she breaks it off. I guess it's appropriate that, at the end of the season, his place in the pairing is reversed. The fact that he passes up Vivian's offer to continue the sex and forget about his plea for a real coupling shows that Ben is making progress. That is why, more than anything, the series should be renewed.
I have to mention quickly that Andrea Anders is a constant delight. It's the little things, like the recurring bit where she opens Ben's door and catches the ball he has thrown, that set her apart. Everything she does just lights up the screen, and after numerous good sitcoms she's been involved in (Better Off Ted, The Class), it's time she is featured on a genuine hit.