Airs Wednesday 2/9
Us Rating: ***
Matthew Perry proves he's still a master of snappy banter and comic timing in a series he helped create. He plays Ben, a witty if cranky 40-year-old who is trying to approach life with a, yes, sunnier disposition -- especially in his job as manager of a San Diego events arena. Admittedly, that's a random setting, and the premiere is overloaded with zaniness as Ben deals with everything from a stray elephant to an ice rink that won't melt.
But Perry's screwball chops and trademark exasperated looks smooth out the rough spots and enhance his chemistry with the sharp cast. To wit: Commitment-phobe Ben can't get a handle on a prickly romance with a coworker (Andrea Anders), and the stars actually make that comedy chestnut smart and compelling. Perry also shines when sparring with Allison Janney (as his shallow boss), Nate Torrence (a dorky underling) and Lost's Jorge Garcia (a laid-back maintenance man). Welcome back, Mr. Perry -- looking forward to a bright journey. (ABC, 9:30 P.M.)