Saturday, February 5, 2011

Is There Life After Friends?

Never have a bunch of young actors seemed as friendless as the cast of the smash NBC sitcom Friends (1994-2002).
Since the series finally went into permanent rerunland the six actors have been struggling to find new identities for themselves.
And that's hard to do when you've just co-starred in such a monster hit that is now in repeats from morning to night.
Let's see now, the most successful of the gang is actually the least talented. Yes, it's Jennifer Aniston who has starred in a whole rush of romantic movie comedies.
Only occasionally has one of them been a big it --Marley And Me is one example.
More famous for her boyfriends than her acting ability, Aniston has spoken about a long proposed Friends reunion either as a TV special or on the big screen.
The most beautiful surely is Courtney Cox currently starring in the variable TV comedy Cougar Town.
At 47 she's still straining to break free from her Friends role --she played Monica Geller.
After Friends she tried another show, the aptly titled flop comedy Dirt (2007-08) and is mounting a movie comeback in Scream 4. But these days she's making headlines for divorce proceedings against husband David Arquette.
The most talented gal was certainly Lisa Kuydrow, now 48.
Her comedy style is certainly offbeat. On TV she's been in the series The Comeback (2005) as well as last year's Web Therapy. But I thought she was funniest in 1997's Romy And Michele's High School Reunion.
Matt LeBlanc, 44, was the only one of Friends to see his character spun out into the unfunny sitcom Joey which struggled for 46 episodes from 2004 to 2006.
But like Perry he's attempting another comeback --this time it's in the cable series, Showtime's Episodes
David Schwimmer, 45, who played Ross basically got away from it all by jump starting a new career as a TV and movie director.
Which takes us back to Matthew Perry who is making another TV comeback on ABC's new show Mr. Sunshine debuting Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. By the way did you know Perry narrowly beat out *(*(*(*(*( to get the Chandler part in the first place?
Let's not forget the stellar job Perry did on the Aaron Sorkin series Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip which was over written by brilliantly performed by an ensemble cast headed by Perry.
Mr. Sunshine is something else.
I saw it last fall with the other new series and was underwhelmed. Simply stated it just might flourish on a cable weblet where it could have freedom to frown and develop.
Network TV is another matter.
CBS has a new episode of the big hit Criminal Minds at 9, NBC has an easier show to knock off, Minute To Win It.
ABC has hammocked Mr. Sunshine between the super popular Modern Family at 9 and something called Off The Map at 10.
Trouble is there's nothing really sunshiny about this very strange sitcom. Perry is still playing Chandler --with ease.--Chandler 15 years on.
He does PR for a San Diego sports arena, the Sunshine Center. His boss is one Crystal Cohen played with amazing verve by Allison Janney as a pill popping nut case.
Her grown son played with joyful innocence by Nate Torrence doesn't get or deserve respect from anyone.
And Perry's hopeful squeeze is the delightful Andrea Anders from Better Off Ted. But she's attracted to James Lesure from the series Vegas.
Honestly,. I didn't know how to approach this one. Weird? Yes! There are no standard sitcom situations but I found myself laughing out loud on occasion.
If American viewers are ready for something completely different then Mr. Sunshine is just the right ticket.
If not? Then those Friends can continue plotting a TV reunion or two.
MY RATING: ** 1/2.

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