Could he be any more cynical?
: I'll tell you what's wrong! Something's happening to me! Roman, is very sad about his mother, and that makes me sad. Crystal, is very very
upset about a little blue person
, and that makes me upset. It's just occurring to me now, I'm actually curious, how your night went with Alonzo! What the hell's happening to me?
Alice: Aw, you're becoming an actual human being!
Ben: Well I don't like it!
is a Sitcom
about misanthrope Ben Donovan and his work at the Sunshine Center, a second-rate arena in San Diego. Somewhat an ensemble show
, Ben's travails are caused by his wacky employees (and boss) and the occasional Jerk Ass
from the outside world. He's the manager of the arena, and his job is to make sure that the events taking place at the arena run smoothly so the arena makes money.
Other characters include his boss Crystal
, his former benefriend
Alice, his assistant
Heather, his Black Best Friend
Alonzo, and his boss's son
Astonishingly, despite starring Allison Janney
, Matthew Perry, Nate Torrence
, and James Lesure (also Studio 60) this is not
a show by Aaron Sorkin
. Rather, it was co-created by Perry himself, and he may have recruited the other two from his time on Sorkin's shows. Or it could be just a coincidence
In a move that couldn't be
less surprising, the series was cancelled after lackluster ratings for its half-season run.
- Accidental Misnaming: Ben insists to the pop start that he is not Larry King. "He's old!"
- The Ace: Alonzo, the Sunshine Centre's community outreach director. He gives blood (more than he should) and is athletic, and sets up clothing drives, and is handsome and and and.
- Ax-Crazy: Heather, at least so everyone thinks. She once lit a man on fire. She's also stalking Ben, but not romantically.
- Black Best Friend: Alonzo, to Ben. Except Ben hates him. Because he hates everyone.
- Blind Date: How Heather sets Ben up with her sister.
- Bookcase Passage: Subverted. When leading Ben to her secret office, Crystal pulls out a book, and Ben thinks it's this. Turns out it's just a book. Of course, there is a hidden door.
- Brick Joke: The elephant from the pilot.
- The Cast Show Off: The seventh episode centers on a tennis tournament. Matt Perry played tennis in college and participates in the tournament.
- Of course Alonso who has never even picked up a racket has Perry running frantically to keep up.
- Cat Fight: How the double date ends.
Ben: I'm gonna go.
Heather: I should slap you.
Stephanie: I should slap you.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Crystal Cohen. Also, her son Roman. He really likes boats.
- Completely Missing the Point: Crystal, when Ben shows her a certain photo.
Ben: I just spoke to the photographer and this is the picture they were going to go with in tomorrow's paper.
Crystal: Ooh! Look at my arms! Pilates is paying off.
Ben: Yes; may I direct your attention to the terrified child you're hurling through the air?
- Crazy-Prepared: Heather, though she may just be crazy. When no one can park because the traffic guys are at Crystal's house detailing her cars and the gate's still locked:
Ben: You probably have bolt cutters under your desk. [She does.]
- Deadpan Snarker: Ben
- The Ditz: Roman. He literally knows nothing.
Ben: Yesterday he asked me what the letter "Q" was.
- Fanservice: Lingerie football.
- Forgotten Birthday: Averted in the pilot, Heather puts "Happy Birthday BEN" on the big screen, but in the next episode absolutely no one realizes that its the 10th anniversary of Ben working at the arena.
- Friends with Benefits: Ben and Alice are this in the backstory, but she leaves him in the pilot for his best friend.
- Girl on Girl Is Hot: Invoked by Heather's sister.
Ben: No, I can stay; you seem great.
Stephanie: Wanna watch me make out with the hostess?
Stephanie: No. I'm not that great.
- Grievous Harm with a Body: When Crystal stops using the child as a shield, she hurls him at the clowns.
- Grumpy Bear: Ben.
- Hard Work Hardly Works: Alonzo found a tennis racket and is sending Ben, who's been playing since he was four or five, running all over the court.
- Human Shield: Crystal defends herself from axe-wielding clowns by picking up a small child.
- Impossible Task: Invoked by the staff. Attempting to WOW Crystal, they make her a four foot tall, three-tierd cake entirely out of churros. The entire contest involves people trying to do this.
- Intoxication Ensues: Crystal took a pill. She is then entirely stoned.
- Jerk Ass: The teen pop star, played by Nick Jonas, of episode two. Makes outrageous demands and is fully aware that he's a nightmare.
"Here's the problem: I wasn't parented properly and I'm very rich. It's a brutal combination.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ben. Possibly Crystal.
- Kill It with Fire: Apparently, Heather's MO. Also how Roman proves his love to her.
- Literal Metaphor: In the pilot, after Crystal dumps Ben for Alonzo, the missing elephant appears.
Alonzo: There's an elephant in the room.
Ben [walking away]: Yeah, I know.
[Ben turns. The elephant trumpets.]
Ben: Oh, I see what you mean.
- Liz Lemon Job: Ben's job in a nutshell.
- Loony Fan: Ben, to Tony Hawk and Carrie Underwood, though it's more a business thing with him.
Heather: Oh, I almost forgot, you have a dinner tonight with pro skateboarder Tony Hawk.
Ben: Oh? I do? I love Tony Hawk! How did this happen?
Heather: He called saying he got all your letters asking to include the Sunshine Center on his tour and that he'd like to have dinner tonight to discuss it.
Ben: Tony Hawk; this is so exciting. I guess you're right; if you pester celebrities long enough eventually they have to notice you. Oh! Let's go ahead and send another muffin basket to Carrie Underwood.
- Also Heather of... the Unabomber...
- Lovable Sex Maniac: Crystal
I see in the schedule that John Cougar Mellencamp is playing her next Wednesday; I'd very much like to sleep with him.
- Love at First Sight: Roman and Heather
- Ludicrous Precision: Within the first thirty seconds of the first episode.
Ben: Every night 17,505 people come here expecting to have a good time and I make sure they do.
- It's perfectly reasonable for the person who runs a major arena to know what the maximum seating capacity is, though not necessarily to mention it every time he describes his job.
- Mama Bear: Heather, to her sister. Apparently, that guy she lit on fire? Yeah, he broke up with her sister.
- Man Child: Roman. To an extreme.
- The Matchmaker: Ben's assistant Heather really wants him to get with her sister.
- Mood Whiplash: Crystal finds out that the woman who was stealing from her had a granddaughter named for her. This heartwarming moment is followed by a whiplash inducing speech where she bounces from heartwarming compliments to shrill insults. This is followed by people learning lessons and making apologies. Which is followed by a drunk man having a breakdown over the PA system. The series thrives on these.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: Tennis legend Jimmy Connors! And his partner, boy actor Fred Savage! Against NBA star Alonzo Pope! And his partner, the guy in the red shirt!
- Nepotism: Why Roman has a job at the arena.
- The Nicknamer: Ben can't remember any of his employees' names (Your name's really Bob Bobinson Bobert?). To learn everyone's names, he puts their names and pictures on flashcards and gives them nicknames based on their initials and something noticeable about them (orange pumpkin, scary mole). It didn't end well.
- Noodle Implements: Right before having sex, Ben puts on a large foam #1 finger.
- "Don't look in that drawer. It will change you."
- Noodle Incident: Crystal picked up a child to use as a shield to defend herself from clowns with axes. Then she threw him at the clowns. Ben bribed the photographers to use a photo that made it look a bit more like she was hugging the child.
Crystal: How much?
- Oh Crap: Ben walks around a corner and finds himself face to face with an angry bull. Then he starts talking to it about his girl troubles.
- Only Sane Man: Ben in the second episode. Everyone is so desperate to win Crystal's contest that they're all ignoring their jobs. Ben realizes from second the first that this would happen and that he would end up doing all the work.
- Overly-Long Name: Crystal's dog, Riverdale Admiral Horatio Nelson Ticklefight.
- Passed Over Promotion: Crystal gives the golf cart to Roman, but Ben thought he'd be getting it for his years of service.
- Please Dump Me: Ben doesn't want Heather to set him on fire for dumping Stephanie, so he tries to get Stephanie to dump him.
- Racist Grandma: Crystal, sort of. "I specifically requested an asian" (about a group of children). Then she sings a song.
Ben: Well, apart from the musical interlude, that was actually moving.
- Sour Supporter: Ben will help Crystal out with her shenanigans and her lusty lustings and trying to get to know her son and running her arena, but he's not particularly nice about it.
- Speed Sex: Alice mocks Ben. Since they then proceed to have sex, she was probably joking. Probably.
- Spiritual Successor: To Better Off Ted
- Supervillain Lair: Crystal has a second, secret office. It has a bar, a bed, a closet, and a grand piano.
- This Is Wrong on So Many Levels: The pop star tells Ben to get him a teen girl's phone number (the hottest girl). This is frightfully easy, and Ben is unhappy about it.
Ben: I know this is going to sound creepy and weird, but could I have your phone number?
Ben: Sure? Just like that? Why don't I just give you a ride home, too?
Oh my god! I do not approve of this behavior young lady, that is dangerous! Is that an eight?
- Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket: Roman is not a fry cook. He tells Ben this while putting heavy bandages on BOTH his hands.
Ben: Yes, but in his defense, in his very brief time here he has demonstrated little or no skill at anything.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: All over the place.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Crystal is terrified of clowns. Then she's charged by a horde of axe-wielding clowns...
- Would Hurt a Child: Played for comedy, when Crystal uses a child first as shield then as a weapon.