Fox // 2010 // 264 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // September 25th, 2011
"I wasn't dressed as Spider-Man. I was dressed as Man-Spider. Totally different thing."
Dennis (Glenn Howerton, Serenity), Dee (Kaitlin Olson, Leap Year), Charlie (Charlie Day, Horrible Bosses), and Mac (Rob McElhenney, Wonder Boys) are four of the world's most self-absorbed individuals. Together, they constantly manage to make bad situations worse, to engage in socially irresponsible pursuits and to make nearly every wrong-headed decision it's possible for human beings to make. They're frequently joined by Dennis and Dee's peculiar father Frank (Danny DeVito, The War of the Roses), whose considerable wealth is only matched by his eccentricity. Welcome to the weird, fractured world of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
My first encounter with It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia was via the A Very Sunny Christmas special, which was modestly amusing yet mostly underwhelming. After all, I had heard so many people talk about the greatness of the show, and that special seemed to indicate that the series was sporadically inventive television which leaned too heavily on easy shocks for laughs. However, after getting a chance to dig into a full season of the show, I'm better able to appreciate what all the fuss is about. This is funny stuff, sometimes magnificently so. Yes, it does occasionally lean a bit too heavily on cheap shock value, but more often than not the show is subversively funny in entertainingly kooky ways.
With the exception of Eastbound and Down's Kenny Powers, the characters on this show easily rank as some of the most ignorant, repugnant, misguided human beings on television. Their behavior is consistently awful throughout the show, but it works for a couple of key reasons. First off, the characters genuinely don't seem to know any better; often engaging in truly horrific actions simply because it seems like the best idea at the time. Secondly, the show ensures that the characters almost always manage to receive some form of spectacular comeuppance, which transforms a show which might have seemed simply ugly into something surprisingly delightful.
Like most seasons of television comedy, this one has its highlights and low points, but two episodes in particular stand out as real gems. The first is "Who Got Dee Pregnant?," a Rashomon-style tale in which the guys recount a hazy night of drunken partying and attempt to figure out which of them might have accidentally impregnated the only female member of the group. The increasingly elaborate details of the contrasting stories are enjoyable, and the storytelling eventually turns into a hilarious tangled web of vomit, make-out sessions, costume changes, and creepy bystanders (Indeed, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has a veritable gallery of creepy bystanders), eventually finishing with a series of excellent flourishes and a perfectly cynical coda.
The second high point is "Dee Reynolds: Shaping America's Youth," in which Dee gets a job as a substitute teacher and desperately attempts to find ways to inspire her class. Her failed attempts at creating some awe-inspiring Inspirational Teacher Moments (you know, the sort of moments which appear in flicks like Lean on Me, Take the Lead and Freedom Writers) are hilarious, but the episode turns absurdly entertaining in the second half with a very special screening of Lethal Weapon 5 (an unofficial sequel starring Charlie, Dennis, Mac and Frank). I won't spoil any of the fun stuff that particular cinematic adventure has to offer, but suffice it to say it had me doubled over with laughter. Oh, man.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season Six arrives on Blu-ray sporting a perfectly acceptably 1080p/1.78:1 transfer. That's actually a change-of-pace for this show, as the previous Blu-ray releases were simply standard-def upconversion jobs. Fortunately, this season was actually shot in hi-def and looks like a Blu-ray release should, with strong detail, bright colors and warm, natural flesh tones. It's not the world's most visually spectacular show, but it looks solid. Audio is also strong, with the cheeky, old-fashioned score blending nicely with the crisp, clean dialogue. Supplements include cast and crew commentary on a handful of episodes, some deleted/extended scenes, a blooper reel, some additional podcasts from Dennis and Dee (so enjoyably vapid), an extended cut of Lethal Weapon 5 (with optional commentary), some "Legal Advice From Jack Kelly," a trivia challenge and the pilot episode of FX's Wilfred (the engaging-yet-puzzling comedy starring Elijah Wood and a man in a dog suit).
As for low points: I wasn't too impressed with the pair of episodes that open the season, which spend too much time on a clunky two-part story. There's some potential in the set-up: Mac finds silly, Biblically based reasons to persecute his transgendered ex, Frank and Charlie decide to get married to each other due to all the "awesome benefits of gay marriage," and Dennis and Dee hook up with old high school flames. Alas, all of these subplots descend into pretty obvious territory rather quickly, and the execution of some potentially fun ideas is botched. Fortunately, things pick up very quickly after this bumpy start.
Also: this show needs to use DeVito a little bit more. He's fantastic in the role of Frank, but too many episodes simply have him wandering through the background with a perplexed look on his face (something the actor does rather amusingly, it must be said). Whenever he decides to really involve himself in the gang's activities, the show benefits.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season Six (Blu-ray) gets off to a rough start, but becomes consistently enjoyable afterwards and delivers a couple of truly great episodes. Recommended.
Review content copyright © 2011 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 264 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Commentaries
* Trivia Challenge
* Extended Episode
* Deleted Scenes
* Blooper Reel
* Official Site