TV Review: ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ Deserves Growing Buzz

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CHICAGO – Thanks in part to extreme popularity online at sites like Hulu and a few great season box sets, FX Networks’ “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” has become a cult comedy hit. People who love the misanthropic freaks of “Philly” truly LOVE this show and they won’t be disappointed by a great season premiere.

HollywoodChicago.com Television Rating: 4.0/5.0
Television Rating: 4.0/5.0

A descendant of the humanity-hating style of “Seinfeld,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is fearless, clever, and very funny TV comedy. It started a little rocky, but when the talented writers and cast of “Sunny” gave up even remotely trying to make their characters likable, they discovered that there’s humor in hatred. Charlie (Charlie Day), Mac (Rob McElhenney), Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Dee (Kaitlin Olson), and Frank (Danny DeVito) aren’t your average TV idiots - they’re the kind who could kill you with their stupidity and not lose a wink of sleep.

Rob McElhenney as Mac, Kaitlin Olson as Sweet Dee, Charlie Day as Charlie, Danny DeVito as Frank and Glenn Howerton as Dennis. CR: FX.
Rob McElhenney as Mac, Kaitlin Olson as Sweet Dee, Charlie Day as Charlie, Danny DeVito as Frank and Glenn Howerton as Dennis.
Photo credit: FX

To call the gang at Paddy’s Pub in Philadelphia self-centered would be a serious understatement. The world revolves around their increasingly ridiculous schemes to make money, get laid, or become popular. What has truly allowed the show to excel in the last few seasons is a willingness by this talented cast to do whatever it takes to get a laugh.

L-R: Glenn Howerton as Dennis, Rob McElhenney as Mac, Danny DeVito as Frank and Charlie Day as Charlie airing Thursday, Sep. 17 on FX. CR: Patrick McElhenney / FX .
L-R: Glenn Howerton as Dennis, Rob McElhenney as Mac, Danny DeVito as Frank and Charlie Day as Charlie airing Thursday, Sep. 17 on FX. br>Photo credit: Patrick McElhenney/FX

And unlike the first few years when the characters seemed interchangeable, they’ve developed their own quirky, unique personalities. Charlie is the closest thing to lovable, a naive romantic who falls for nearly every scheme and has nearly no social skills at all. Dennis thinks he’s the smoothest guy on the block and lives in a cloud of narcissistic idiocy. Mac thinks he’s the tough guy, an action star in his own mind. Dee thinks she’s one of the guys but doesn’t hesitate to play girlie when it helps her. Finally, Frank is the classic slob character, an idiot who literally keeps sausages in his pocket if he wants a snack.

Despite their serious flaws and unlikable behavior, I kind of love the gang at Paddy’s Pub. It’s nice to have them back on the TV landscape. It’s rare for a show to be starting its fifth season at the top of its game, but that’s what it feels like with “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” producing at least three episodes of the first four that stand next to the best of last year. If you’re a fan, don’t worry. The gang doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere.

The four episodes sent for review start with tonight’s premiere, the highlight of the quartet in the very funny “The Gang Exploits the Mortgage Crisis”. Frank, Mac, and Dennis try their hand at real estate, literally bullying people into leaving a house they’re trying to turn-around and then doing the same to get someone to buy it. Meanwhile, Dee thinks there’s money in being a surrogate mother for a wealthy couple. It’s one of the ten funniest episodes of the series to date.

Upcoming episodes of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” include the funny “The Gang Hits the Road,” the very funny “The Gang Gives Frank an Intervention,” and the so-so “Mac and Charlie Write a Movie”.

Alcoholism, miscarriage, the mortgage crisis, in vitro fertilization, running away from home, and M. Night Shyamalan all make thematic appearances in the first four episodes of one of the most unpredictable shows on television. It can take some time to get on the wavelength of Charlie, Mac, Dennis, Dee, and Frank, but you won’t be able to say goodbye once you do.

‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,’ which airs on FX, stars Charlie Day, Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, Kaitlin Olson, and Danny DeVito. The show was created by McElhenney. The fifth season premieres on Thursday, September 17th, 2009 at 9PM CST.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

Anonymous's picture

This was a decently funny

This was a decently funny episode. Not top 10.

Anonymous's picture

meh

I was greatly disappointed. This episode had the same problems as most in season 4: the characters are plain old mean instead of bad-but-ultimately-likeable, and it’s just not really that funny. In the old episodes, they’d start out meaning well and slowly slide into being more and more terrible people, rationalizing every step. Now they start out being mean, and at the expense of being funny.

C's picture

Mediocre

To be honest, the season opener left me feeling rather disappointed. The entire episode seemed a little formulaic — the gang’s actions were predictable. The writing came off as being quite deliberate, like the gang and the rest of the writers and producers decided to cash in on what they felt the audience would expect out of the characters. Don’t get me wrong, this episode surely had its laughs. But I am a longtime fan of this show and had really high hopes of the season opener being on par with some of the instant classics of the last four seasons. There is no way this was a top ten episode.

I still have high hopes for the rest of the season, but the opener left me with a sour taste.

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