TV Review: Mr. Sunshine

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If Chandler and Monica broke up, Chandler would be arena operations manager Ben Donovan in ABC'sMr. Sunshine.

But the self-deprecation of Matthew Perry and his alter ego Chandler Bing has now hardened into an unpleasant cynicism. Ben is a miserable man, one who refuses to learn his employees' names and who kills time during his work day by tentatively romancing co-worker Alice (Andrea Anders, working her way through the cast ofFriendsafter her stint onJoey).

In addition to his duties-which clearly include being rude to everyone-Ben must also deal with the loopy owner of the arena, his boss Crystal (Allison Janney, giving viewers the only reason to tune in). Crystal is the kind of misguided rich person who throws a child at an ax during a photo op, then comments on how the resulting picture really shows off the success of her Pilates.

Alas, she's not the star; co-creator Perry is. Looking haggard and unhappy, Perry is a relentless downer. In his twenties, we would have been on Ben's side, but now his sarcasm has calcified into something bordering on cruelty. Sure, the people working with him are idiots (no doubt the better to wrest humor from the workplace for the writers), but Ben is 40 years old, single and still clinging to a carapace of humor to shield him from human interaction. Too bad that humor is as off-putting as the axe-wielding clowns in the pilot.

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