Now entering it's 11th season on FXX, FX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" has certainly secured itself a spot on the wall of 21st century television comedy classics. As a viewer, who has most recently become a fan via Netflix in the past three months, I must consider myself more than a little ashamed at having just now become acquainted with the shenanigans/crimes involving the gang at Paddy's Pub. Having watched the entire series not just once, but twice completely in the the past three months, I approached season 10's DVD release with a bit of trepidation as an easy argument is made for the most consistent string of episodes having come and gone in the early to mid years of the show. With the jump to FXX, season 9 definitely showed signs of a series running out of steam, with tiny gems like "The Gang Breaks Dee" and "The Gang Makes Lethal Weapon 6" showing some of the tried and true originality that brought us classics such as "The Nightman Cometh" and "Mac and Charlie Die" to name a few. Season 10 brings another 10 episodes originally debuting on FXX and the result is an interesting shift from what preceded.
Season 10 of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" is nearly bookended by separate pairs of episodes that I'd put up in upper echelon of the series lore. Beginning with the realistically implausible "The Gang Beats Boggs" as the gang takes a cross country trip to beat Wade Boggs' mythical in-flight drinking record, newcomers to the show get a microcosm of each character and the havoc they wreak on society, this time thousands of feet above the skies. Over-the-top shenanigans aside, "The Gang Group Dates" gets things back in the bar in familiar turf allowing for some wry social commentary on trendy dating site fads. The show does lean a little Dennis-heavy, planting the seeds for what is actually a Dennis-heavy season. That said, a gag involving Mac, Frank, and Charlie in the back office making a list of what not to say to women on group dates is a riot and eagle-eyed viewers will notice through lazy editing a word slip up on the board that likely stemmed from a deleted scene I can only imagine pushed the boundaries of good taste too far (and that's saying something for this series.
The middle stretch of episodes become more middling in overall quality, as previously mentioned Dennis and his artificial woes are featured a little too much in this season and aside from the truly masterful "Charlie Work" episode, I'd argue one could skip the entire middle section of season 10 as a whole. "Charlie Work" is both a testament to the comedic talents of Charlie Day as it features a nearly 10-minute unbroken tracking shot through the bar several times over shot with Day in character the entire time; an homage to "True Detective" and "Birdman" alike, it's truly awe-inspiring sequences like this that make the not-so-great filler worth stomaching.
Ending up the season batting two-for-three, "The Gang Goes on Family Fight" is a return to mid-series form, complete with a reference to the mythical Nightman in a brilliant riff on the modern day "Family Feud" incarnation. "Frank Retires" is an all too brief journey back into mediocrity before "Ass Kickers United: Mac and Charlie Join a Cult" manages to close out the season with a healthy mix of slapstick and morally dark humor that's an obvious commentary on Scientology. Five out of ten isn't bad, especially for a series breaking double digits in the season category; there's no arguing "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" is losing steam as the years go by and I'd make a safe bet the 12th season next year will be its last. Still for long-time fans and new alike, the tenth season has its share of good angles, and we all know, you gotta have an angle.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer continues to reflect the show's stronger budget and technical proficiency. Digital noise is kept to a minimum and along with compression artifacts is most noticeable in more dimly lit scenes. Colors are vibrant and natural, while detail is consistently high.
The English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is a little overkill for this dialogue heavy, atmosphere light show. Dialogue is clear and balanced, with the show's whimsical score providing a bit of ancillary life at the beginning and end of every episode. English, Spanish, and French subtitles are included.
A gag reel is the lone extra.
With 50-percent of this season's output equal in quality to the glory years of the series, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season Ten" is a return to form after a very shaky ninth season. Even that other 50-percent is passable viewing one time through and isn't completely lacking its share of laughs (complaints about Dennis may be warranted, but his sociopathy does elicit a dark chuckle now and then). If you've come this far, I can safely say, the journey is still worth continuing. Recommended.