‘Mr. Sunshine’ – ‘Crystal on Ice’: Is it much further, Papa Smurf?

When “Mr. Sunshine” debuted a few weeks back, I said that the show hadn’t yet gelled around its very likable ensemble. So my plan was to watch, wait a while, and see if the show could start to find itself. Since last night’s episode was the only original ABC comedy of the night – and since it featured giant Smurfs – I figured it was about time to check back in with another review, just as soon as I use the tub for non-bathing purposes…

First thing’s first: I love the little 5-second theme song, to the point where I can no longer hear or say the word “Yay!” without thinking of how it’s deployed here. The art of the theme song is mostly dead on network TV because of the increased commercial load, and this is a case of a show turning a negative into a positive, using that very brief window of time to tell you exactly what the tone of the show is going to be.

As for the series built around the “Mr. Sunshine! Yaaaay…” theme, it’s definitely getting better. It still feels like everybody’s trying too hard to build this wacky universe, but every now and then the craziness works, like Allison Janney beating up Smurfette and then going ice dancing with Papa Smurf. That’s just innately funny stuff there.

The show is also very wisely leaning on the Ben/Roman duo, in which the very divergent energies of Matthew Perry and Nate Torrence click nicely together. The two of them bonding over Mario Kart and silly games like Cup Hands was a lot of fun, and I especially liked the moment when Roman broke the second lamp and Ben got upset again. Ben’s not going to change overnight, or it would defeat the whole idea behind the show, so it was a good contrast to the earlier scene where he was so excited to realize they wouldn’t get in trouble for breaking the first lamp.

On the other hand, while I’ve liked Andrea Anders and James Lesure in other things, and even in isolated moments on this show, their scenes together are kind of a drag – as if the writers know that eventually they’re going to put Ben and Alice together and just need to kill time with her until then.

Still not laughing a ton – outside of occasional scenes like the Smurf-related violence this week, or Roman’s impromptu musical performance last week – but the show is definitely growing on me.

What about the rest of you? If you’ve stuck with it, do you feel it’s living up to its potential? If you stopped watching after the pilot, when and why?