Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Mr. Sunshine - S1 E4 - Hostile Workplace

Ben has a hard time getting along with his employees and there's some other storyline involving Linda from Better Off Ted's character.

Recap after the jump.

The air conditioning is out of order at the Sunshine Center, so Ben heads for the maintenance staff, but the meeting doesn't go well; Ben doesn't know any of their names and ends up hurting their feelings or something along those lines. Crystal takes him into her office and tells him he must do a better job of connecting with his employees, starting with learning their names. Ben is skeptical and has Roman poll everyone on his popularity, but when the results are negative, he is jolted into action. Roman suggests a technique of writing everyone's name on a flashcard with their photo and an acronym based on their initials. His suggestions are innocuous; Funny Personality for Fred Peterson, but Ben has a "better" idea - give everyone a mildly offensive nickname.

He succeeds in remembering everyone's names, and the workers are suitably impressed by his dedication, fixing the air conditioning and generally being more helpful towards him. Roman though heads for a private box in the arena to enjoy the air from a large fan. While singing a Cher song into it, he doesn't notice the fan blowing all the flashcards over the stadium surface where the workers find them and their nicknames. The next day, everyone is pissed with Ben and they've broken the air conditioning again. He and Crystal call a crisis meeting where everyone can vent their frustrations, but they are reluctant until Crystal gets the ball started - then everyone piles in with their thoughts on Ben's character flaws. He responds by ordering them all back to work.

Crystal suggests he throws an ice cream party, but even that doesn't seem to work. It's not an overnight thing - just try and be more friendly and over time, they'll see that you really are a nice guy, Ben. It starts with showing an interest in Hurley's Robert's life. The side quest in this episode revolved around Crystal asking Alonzo and Linda from Better off Ted's characters out on a double date (I refer to her as such because I have forgotten her character's actual name) with her own boyfriend, numerous references to whom suggest he may be black. Working under that assumption, her constant questions for the couple suggest a deep-seated racism, suggesting that he and Alonzo know each other since "all brothers do", and asking [Linda] for advice considering there is a societal disapproval upon their kinds of relationships for example. It turns out that he's a white guy who was in the same fraternity as Alonzo, and the kinds of relationships she was talking about were older women with younger men. Which offends [Linda] considering she's ten years younger than Alonzo.

I don't buy [Linda] and Alonzo as a couple. It's possible that's because their screen time has been minimal so far and in general they're sparsely written. I never like these employees refuse to fix something until you're nice to them storylines - those maintenance guys must be in a union because if they start acting out like that... FIRE them!! Crybabies. Usually, Ben's thread is OK while anything else going on is barely formed. That held true again kind of - the side thread at least finished this time rather than getting discarded half way through. However, I felt unsatisfied by Ben's thread. Ben aside, I'm not sure I like these characters that much, they're not consistent in their portrayal and some of them are just plain annoying. I didn't enjoy watching this episode.

"Mr. Sunshine" airs Wednesdays on ABC at 9:30 pm EST.

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