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Pilot Script Review: Mr. Sunshine

May 27, 2010
(Picture courtesy of ABC.com)

I stumbled upon the pilot script for Mr. Sunshine and figured I’d post my random thoughts and what (if any) writing lessons can be learned from it.  I hate to use the word “spoiler” for a review of a sitcom, but it’s possible there may be “spoilers” ahead…although this isn’t Lost, so even if you haven’t read the script or seen the pilot, you’re life won’t be ruined.

Synopsis (from an ABC press release): “Matthew Perry stars as Ben Donovan, the self-involved manager of a second-rate San Diego sports arena who begins to re-evaluate his life on his 40th birthday. Working alongside him is his boss and arena owner, Crystal–attractive, powerful and highly erratic; Alice–the cute, tomboyish marketing director and Ben’s friend with benefits; Alonzo–a former basketball player, handsome and unbelievably happy; Ben’s assistant, Heather–pretty, sweet, but terrifying because she once lit a boyfriend on fire; Crystal’s son, Roman–sweet-faced, clueless and Ben’s newest employee; and a hapless operations crew whom Ben refers to collectively as the “Steves.”

Writers: Matthew Perry, Alex Barnow & Marc Firek

Read the script: Mr. Sunshine Pilot

Watch the trailer: Mr. Sunshine Trailer

Official homepage: ABC’s Mr. Sunshine page

Overall Thoughts: This was a solid pilot.  So, although there was nothing mind-blowing, or cutting edge about it, it was a funny, quick read, that established some good characters.  I think the lead is a a good role for Matthew Perry, as it matches his witty sarcastic tone that he’s become known for.  The supporting characters are all intriguing, without being “so crazy that they would only live in the realm of a sitcom world.”  Mr. Sunshine should fit well into ABC’s Wednesday night comedy-fest (or whatever they’re calling it) with Cougar Town and Modern Family.  After watching the trailer, I’m even more confident that this will be a good show (notice I didn’t say “popular show”).  The only major downside that I can see for this show is that  “Walking on Sunshine” is going to be wayyyyyy over-played on promos and (please God no) the theme song for the show.  No offense to the song, it just feels like a corny jingle that could fit into any Proctor & Gamble product commercial. Sorry, but I have high standards for my sitcom theme songs – Thank you, Community, 30 Rock, Arrested Development, and The Office (to name a few).

Number of LOL’s: Twice…although one was more of a loud chuckle.

Favorite Line: “This morning I brushed my teeth with my finger in my car, and now I’m going to be a mom.”

Grade: 7 out of 10

Lesson: Sometimes in our quest to be “great,” we (writers) tend to over-complicate our scripts.  If there’s anything that can be learned from Mr. Sunshine, it’s the importance of clarity.  The main character, Ben, has clear goals (personal and professional) and the reader can easily track with them.  As much as I love Arrested Development (aka Greatest Show of All Time), I imagine the scripts are a bit cumbersome to read due to the flashbacks, narration, and multiple story lines.  Mr. Sunshine was such a quick and easy, that by the time I finished I was like, “I’m done already?  I want more of these characters!”  So, the major lesson that can be learned from Mr. Sunshine is to make your scripts easy to read – Not literally, as in the level of writing, but structurally and story-wise.  If you get feedback from a writing partner and/or a friend and they tell you that they were confused about a storyline or scene, don’t fight them on it!  Don’t explain it.  Re-write it so that it needs no explanation.

Coming soon on a future Pilot Script Review…Running Wilde

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