It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia came out of nowhere in 2005 after the makers shot a pilot for around $200 and apparently blew away the execs at the FX Network, who promptly ordered a season of episodes. The basic premise is the same each time out – someone in the gang has an absolutely terrible idea and the others come around to agreeing that it is brilliant. They execute the idea and everything turns to crap. Were the cast not as strong as they are, this show probably wouldn’t still be on the air. As it is, though, it works well.
Charlie (Charlie Day), Mac (Rob McElhenney), and Dennis (Glenn Howerton) own a bar in Philly, where the terrible ideas are hatched. In “The Gang Gets Extreme: Home Makeover Edition”, the gang decides it would be great if they pulled a home-baked Ty Pennington and transformed someone’s dump of a home into a palace. To do so, they inadvertently kidnap a family with the help of bartender Dee (Kaitlin Olson) and Frank (Danny DeVito) and go about their ill-conceived plan. What gives the plot its edge is that their motivations are generally greedy and self-centered. The only reason they’re doing something “good” for this family is because they believe that’s the only way they’ll get stuff they want, like Lamborghinis.
The same is true of “The Nightman Cometh”, in which Charlie writes a musical of the same name. Everyone thinks that’s a stupid idea until he tells them he wants to cast them in it, at which point they fight over the roles. Charlie is hilariously oblivious to the scandalously sexual connotations of his work and even though everyone else tells him he has to change some things (except for Frank, who seems to be the one who knows what idiots the gang is and loves to watch them go down in flames), they back down if Charlie threatens to take away their song or kick them out of the play. It’s all about selfish self-aggrandizing self-destruction.
Still, The Gang manages to stay likable. The episodes fly by at break neck speed, which rarely allows the characters to realize just how fast they’re digging their own graves. This also gives some episodes an epic feel – there’s so much plot, so much going on, you’d swear this show was a least an hour long. There’s a very light tough to all this darkness and it works well.
The episodes are entirely predictable, which works in their favor – if you couldn’t see the cliff this train was headed for, it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun. There’s still a touch of moralizing here, but not in the heavy handed way sitcoms normally go about it. The characters are all bastards, but it’s okay because they’ll get theirs in the end. Seldom do any of the main characters profit from any of this tom foolery. Like Seinfeld, no one learns lessons here. Just like in real life.
Mac and Dennis: Manhunters, The Gang Solves The Gas Crisis, America’s Next Top Paddy’s Billboard Model Contest, Mac’s Banging The Waitress, Mac and Charlie Die (Part 1), Mac and Charlie Die (Part 2), Who Pooped The Bed?, Paddy’s Pub: The Worst Bar In Philadelphia, Dennis Reynolds: An Erotic Life, Dee Has A Heart Attack, The Gang Cracks The Liberty Bell, The Gang Gets Extreme: Home Makeover, The Nightman Cometh
The series is presented in 1.33:1 standard def and is as stripped down as a show started with around $200 would look. The audio in English 2.0 Dolby Surround with English and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital plus Spanish, French and Portuguese subtitles.
The Nightman Cometh Live! – An hour-long piece chronicling a staging of ‘The Nightman Cometh’, an episode from the Fourth Season. Very funny stuff. (50:13)
Dennis Reynolds: An Erotic Life – Reynolds relates a Masterpiece Theatre-like story of his erotic adventures. Not quite as funny stuff. (7:34)
Season 4 Blooper Reel – Some pretty great moments here, especially with Gladys, the 99-year-old piano player. If you don’t laugh at this stuff, you truly have a heart of stone. (5:21)
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 4 takes a solid concept and squeezes every bit of comic juice out of it. A very fun show.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment presents It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 4. Starring: Charlie Day, Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, Kaitlin Olson, Danny DeVito. Boxset Contents: 13 episodes on 3 DVDs. Running time: 277 min. Rating: NR. Released on DVD: September 15, 2009. Available at Amazon.com