Picks and Pans Review: Mr. Sunshine

updated 03/31/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/31/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

ABC (Fri., March 28, 9 p.m. ET)

B+

This new sitcom was supposed to start last fall, but when it was pulled off ABC's schedule at the last minute, I wasn't surprised. No one was. The plot sounded contrived, sappy and simply dorky: Mr. Sunshine is about a blind college professor. But now that I've previewed the show, I am surprised—and pleasantly. Mr. Sunshine is charming and not only funny but sometimes even witty. So I was wrong. It happens. Jeffrey (9 To 5) Tambor, bald and dumpy, gruff but huggable, plays the prof, who separates from his wife and moves into an apartment owned by Barbara Babcock, that Statue of Libido from Hill Street Blues. But it's Tambor's secretary, Nan (The Thorn Birds) Martin, who makes the show roll, with caustic cracks and a delivery as wry as Eve Arden's or Bea Arthur's. She types up one of the prof's papers and asks whether he wants to "proof-feel it." Sure, there are blind jokes. "Are you really blind?" a woman asks Tambor. He nods. "Bats use me as a role model." But Mr. Sunshine manages to walk gracefully on the fine line between tastelessness and twinkieness. The show's bosses—Henry (Happy Days) Winkler and John Rich, a director of All in the Family, Maude and The Dick Van Dyke Show—should try not to base every gag on their gimmick; if they avoid such easy temptation, they'll have a good show. So don't be as cynical as I'm paid to be. Give Mr. Sunshine a chance.

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