Matthew Perry's 'unfunny' new TV show

The "Friends" star is back with "Mr. Sunshine," a tragicomic ABC sitcom. Can Perry regain television stardom as a "sad sack"?

Matthew Perry has been off the small screen since 2007, and his comedic comeback with "Mr. Sunshine" is striking commentators as a dreary return.
(Image credit: YouTube)

Matthew Perry, who became an international star in the '90s playing Chandler on "Friends," and was last seen in 2007's failed "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," returned to television Wednesday night with "Mr. Sunshine," a new ABC sitcom. Perry plays Ben Donovan, the brash, depressed manager of a sports facility, who must come to terms with his own selfishness... and a stable of wacky coworkers, of course. The show's debut-night ratings were encouraging. But is "Mr. Sunshine" any good? (Watch a trailer for "Mr. Sunshine")

The show is a disaster: "You can't help wondering which is sadder," says David Wiegand at The San Francisco Chronicle. "Matthew Perry's self-loathing sad-sack character or his attempt to make him appealing." One of the many problems on this "unfunny" show is just how unlikable the protagonist is — Donovan seems like he's "one Valium with a vodka chaser away from ending it all." But while Perry's character is merely sad, "West Wing" alumna Allison Janney, who plays the "entirely despicable" owner of the arena, is "downright horrifying."

"Mr. Sunshine review: Where the sun don't shine"

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No, it's a fitting comeback: "There is something about middle age that suits Perry," says Robert Lloyd at The Los Angeles Times. "It is almost as if he has been waiting his whole career for those bags to be parked under his eyes." Perry's struggles with substance abuse are well known, so "it's easy to read his new series' story of delayed maturity as a rewriting of the star's own." And in the context of that narrative, "Mr. Sunshine" is "not a bad way to begin again."

"'Mr. Sunshine:' Television review"

It's boring and "soulless": The show is "not a complete disaster," says Matthew Gilbert at The Boston Globe. But it is so forgettable that "it practically begs you to damn it with extremely faint praise, mincing your words down to the blandest of neutrality." Laced with cliches and sitcom-standard plots, the show "feels as unrealized as a blueprint."

"Mr. Sunshine can't cut through the clouds"

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