Mr. Sunshine: Season 1, Episode 2
Employee of the Month
Last week, I told you I couldn't recommend Mr. Sunshine on the strength of its pilot, but that I was going to stick around for a few more weeks to see if it improved. I didn't intend to review the show after its pilot, but after watching "Employee of the Year" I felt the need to let the world know that, indeed, the show did improve after the pilot. This second episode is still not a great piece of television, but it is so much better than last week that it gives me a great amount of faith on where the show will go from here.

Tonight's episode has the kind of standard sitcom plot that a show of this type needs to get out of the way early. Ben feels unappreciated at work on his tenth anniversary, until he thinks that Crystal has set up a contest to award the best employee with a golf cart. Ben believes (mostly because Crystal leads him to believe) that this is a back handed way to congratulate him for ten years of great service. Of course, this is a wacky sitcom, so instead Crystal is giving the golf cart to Roman, her estranged son, as a secret way to begin earning his love by rewarding him for things he doesn't deserve.

The B-plot, in which Alice and Alonzo compete to prove they are more important to the organization and win the golf cart for themselves, is similarly pretty rote and obvious, though it does get some points for having Alonzo give frisbees to blind children, only to have Alice try to steal the mback and replace them with plates. This isn't a particularly original joke (someone doing something horrible to the disabled is also standard for "wacky" sitcoms), but its also a joke that is pretty easy to do well, and it is handled well here. The C-plot, in which Roman and Ben's insane secretary have a completely crazy romantic interest in one another is just off the beaten path enough to be enjoyable, even if both characters still feel like they're trying a bit too hard to be, well, "wacky."

So "Employee of the Year" isn't a comedic masterpiece. What it is, however, is a very funny episode of television, which puts it leaps and bounds above the pilot. I realized I had to review this show at least once more when I found myself laughing regularly throughout. Allison Janney is clearly the show's MVP, and Crystal is at this point the perfect mixture of callous, insane, and occasionally lucid. She brings the most laughs of the episode, but also feels like the show's most developed original character (Ben is pretty much the standard Matthew Perry sarcastic straight man, though played well). Her assuredness this early breeds confidence that the rest of the characters will develop well in the weeks to come, and that this may indeed be a show worth watching in the weeks to come. If you watched last week's episode but didn't tune in for this one, you may want to give the show a second chance. Last week I said it may surprise us; this week I'm a little more confident it will.

Grade: B


-"I envy the blind. I sometimes think I too would give my sight to play the piano that well."

-"I can't type, I can't use the phone, and I'm not positive I know what the internet is..." "Do you set people on fire?" "No..." "you're my guy."

-"America! America! The system works people!"...says the man who did nothing to earn his reward.

-"How do you tie this? A giant had to tie this!"

-"That's way too much information for a wink!"

-"I want a snowboat that can sail across ice and certain lakes!"

-Still not sure I'll be reviewing this on a weekly basis, though I will be watching it. What do you guys think?

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Tags: Mr. Sunshine
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