Mr. Sunshine Has A Few Bright Spots 

Former Friends star returns in comedy that's kind of funny

It's difficult to root for Friends stars because it's much more fun to watch the formerly successful sitcom folk degenerate into cocaine-fueled-hungry-for-hidden-hookers-in-the-closet-shoveling-spiked-whiskey-in-a-suitcase-and-heading-to-Guatamala perversions of their former selves.

But, admittedly, Matthew Perry has created something good. He's writing and starring in Mr. Sunshine--ABC's new show currently airing after Modern Family on Wednesday nights--and it's actually watchable, especially if you consider ironic detachment to be funny.

Regardless of your comedic predilections, however, it features a welcome counterpart to the irritating song that opened his previous half-hour comedy. Mr. Sunshine may boast the greatest sitcom theme that has ever been written. Basically, it's this: A poorly drawn sun appears on the screen as a few acoustic guitar chords are played behind the five-second lyrics "Mr. Sunshine, yeah."

That's it.

The show isn't hilarious, but it's funny. It's bold to build a sitcom--in these populist-pedaling times--around a successful sports/concert/circus arena manager, Ben Donovan (Perry), who has no kids and who doesn't care about other people. Mass audiences don't like that sort of thing unless the character changes--and, of course, by the time the show ends, Ben will probably become a mushy, pseudo-reluctant father figure with a wacky neighbor who dispenses Buddha-like wisdom over the fence. Otherwise, it'll be canceled before Joey Lawrence returns to primetime. Also, the theme-song brilliance will be replaced by some sort of Black Eyed Peas tribute.

Perry delivers his solipsistic lines well, but the comic revelation is Allison Janney. She inhabits her frazzled, pill-popping, arena-owning character with unparalleled aplomb.

On kids, she says in the pilot episode: "Their well-being is of the utmost importance, as they are our future, and when you ask them to get things for you, they do it with enthusiasm."

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