Last night, as I’ve done for the best several weeks, I have sat down to watch a new Mr. Sunshine. Over the handful of episodes that have aired to this point, I think I can recall myself having laughed once… probably. It may have just been a slightly bemused chuckle, but I’ll give the show the benefit of the doubt and call it a laugh.
Despite the lack of humor I have found in the series, I still greatly look forward to it airing every week. And, I am hoping that the show comes back for another season once this one finishes.
How can that possibly be? How can I possibly eagerly anticipate watching this not terribly funny comedy every week?
I have wrestled with those questions since episode two, and I think that I may finally have come up with some sort of an answer – it’s the cast. Matthew Perry, I’ve loved him since he was on Second Chance back in the day (or maybe from when he played Sandy on Growing Pains). Then there’s Andrea Anders from Better off Ted and Joey (thank goodness her character here isn’t with Perry’s, that would just be too weird after her relationship with Matt Leblanc’s character on that other series). Plus there’s James Lesure (I still miss watching him on Las Vegas). Finally, there’s Allison Janney (C.J. Cregg, ‘nuf said). Okay, there’s also Nate Torrence and Portia Doubleday, and they’re fine, but it’s the others who really excite me.
These are people I want to see on my television every week. When you watch a television show, you’re welcoming the characters and the actors into your home, you’re making these people a part of your life (even if it’s an incredibly small part). Perry and Lesure and Janney and Anders are people I want to be welcoming into my home on a weekly basis. They’re people who even if they’re not making me laugh, make me smile.
I don’t know that making me smile would be quite enough on some intense hour-long drama, but on a half-hour show where I’m already tuning into the network for the previous show, I think it is. Obviously I would rather have the show make me laugh on a regular basis, but I’ll take what I can get, particularly as I still feel as though there simply aren’t enough good comedies on television.
Beyond that, I hold out the hope that eventually Mr. Sunshine will find its groove (it isn’t there yet). Obviously the cast is a talented one, so if they can just find the right sort of funny to fit them here, they ought to be able to make it work. The workplace comedy is a classic subgenre of the sitcom and there’s no reason why it can’t still be viable, especially when you have a good group of actors on board.
I am, I fear, being overly optimistic. As much as I may like the people in the show, as much as I may be sure that the subgenre can work, shows based on good ideas and with talented people don’t always find their groove. Not every show hits its full potential. I have no evidence to suggest that Mr. Sunshine won’t find its way to true funny and that it won’t remain on the air for years (famously, of course, workplace comedy Cheers was initially a low-rated program), just a feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I hope I’m wrong, I hope that the series has a long life ahead of it and I’m certainly going to keep watching, but I can’t say that I’m overly optimistic.