The last time, I was watching the FXX show It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, I thought they'd maybe found their groove back. Since that review I've drifted from the show a little, and returned to it in Season Ten, just before its recent Season 11 premiere. And I think they're doing some character exploration worth touting.
We know the drill by this point but if not, the Philadelphia-set show has a main stage that is a bar called Paddy's, which includes Dennis (Glenn Howerton, Crank 2), Dee (Kaitlin Olson, Leap Year), who is Dennis' sister, Charlie (Charlie Day, Horrible Bosses) and his friend Mac (Rob McElhenney (Wonder Boys). Frank (Danny DeVito, Hoffa) may be Dennis and Dee's father and also may be Charlie's father, but nobody really knows for certain, which is part of its charm I suppose.
Back in Season Seven, McElhenney put on 50 pounds and grew his beard out a little bit for the character. No real reason was given that I'm aware of, other than it was another thing for the gang to try and tackle. McElhenney subsequently lost the weight before Season Eight but I think subtly it may have given the cast a chance to provide some character mythologies of their own that have proved to be pretty funny. Dennis, Dee and Charlie attempt to find out if Frank is their biological father, proving to be a funnier than expected installment in "Frank Retires." It's never addressed specifically, but Mac's homosexuality is a recurring joke in the season, which is to say it's observed and he never really acknowledges it. Those are a couple of things in the season that are hilarious.
For me, the star of the season amongst the cast is Howerton. Dennis is portrayed as a vain man, occasionally wandering into moments of psychosis, shown brilliantly early in the season's second episode, "The Gang Group Dates." But it's hinted to even in the first episode, when the gang take a cross-country flight in an attempt to tackle the urban legend of baseball player Wade Boggs' beer consumption on a flight. By now, the show has built up enough goodwill for these individual jaunts, and Howerton goes for it with a ton of gusto.
This isn't to say the rest of the cast is neglected; they have their own moments as well, like Charlie's brief coherence in "Charlie Work," when he gets the gang to get in line to help the bar pass its health inspection. And in a surprise, Keegan-Michael Key appears as a guest in "The Gang Goes On Family Fight," serving as the pseudo Steve Harvey to "Family Feud" and doing a great job with it as the gang insult and offend people while they attempt to win $10,000.
There aren't any real moments of disappointment per se, however, "Ass Kickers United" goes out in the same vein poking fun of religion and/or scientology like other comedies have, and didn't really accomplish it as well. When the show tries to become something that it's not, such as clever parody, that's when things are a little more erratic.
What the show did well in it's tenth season was spend most of their time being a little introspective and the viewers gleamed information that, combined with learning that the show has a twelfth season to go with their currently airing eleven, they can do justice to the quintet of characters. And by justice, I mean leave a foul-smelling stain on the middle of the road. The funny thing is, the gang wouldn't have it any either way, and neither would I.The Discs:
The show's ten episodes are spread evenly over two discs, and all are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and they look fine. Colors look vivid without saturation problems, there are fleeting moments of crush and pixilation in darker moments, but flesh tones look good and the image is generally pristine and free of issues.The Sound:
Dolby Digital 5.1 surround for all of the episodes and it sounds as good as it's going to. "Whomp! There it is!" sounds good, as do other moments of more dynamic range. Dialogue is consistent through the show and directional effects and channel panning are generally absent for most of the talk-heavy comedy.Extras:
The only thing is a gag reel (5:43) which, while funny, is hardly worth writing home about.Final Thoughts:
By no means am I expecting It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia to last for another decade, but as it gets closer to the end, I'm genuinely looking forward to seeing how the five characters play out the last episodes of the show, as there were more laughs consistently from episode one to episode ten than I can immediately remember. Technically, the show is fine, though they should have done better than just a gag reel. Definitely worth seeing if you have left the show and are looking to come back to it.