Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - "Pop-Pop: The Final Solution" Review

The best comedy on television returned last week with another solid premiere in "Pop-Pop: The Final Solution".

Sunny has been a show that has always been consistently great throughout its now impressive eight year run.  I believe one of the biggest reasons for that is the dynamic between the cast, who are good friends (or married) in real life, and know how to play off of each other so well, that even when the material isn't there, they elevate it through their hysterically deranged performances.

Right off the bat I was laughing my ass off at the news that Charlie and Mac had to tell.  These guys know who their characters are so well that body language and improv are second nature to them at this point, so Mac deluding himself for the umpteenth time about keeping the bar secure didn't feel stale at all.  Ever since last season's phenomenal "The Gang Gets Trapped", I've realized the true potential for hysteria that Mac and Charlie can provide when stuck together.  It seems the show is realizing it too.

It was nice to see the Lawyer again, as Brian Unger plays him with such a jaded reluctancy that always juxtaposes how far the gang has really regressed from the real world.  I also enjoyed how the creators are always mindful of their inter-series continuity, as it is always informing the character work and even future plots, in this case, Dennis and Dee's Nazi background.  The guys have said that, eight seasons in, they're only hitting their creative strides now, and I can't help but think that treating the series as an exercise in character devolution rather than a collection of one off episodes is a big factor for the creative well remaining full.

A lot of people criticize Sunny for its one dimensional characters, not realizing that that is precisely its point.  McElhenney and co. have bulldozed current events, TV and movie tropes consistently in this show.  Most TV is designed to develop characters.  Seinfeld changed the game as it was designed to have no moral compass and no character development whatsoever.  Sunny takes it one step further by introducing reverse character development.  The reason for McElhenney getting fat was to throw Network TVs vanity back in its own face.  Every year, things just get crazier and weirder, and the leads become more insular and sociopathic by the minute.

And did they ever in this episode.  I referenced Seinfeld for a reason, as the famous "Soup Nazi" was clearly an inspiration for the hospital scenes.  I have to say though, I don't think any doctor would leave a patient's room unattended, or uncleaned, for months at a time simply because Frank said so.  Hopefully from now on the show continues focusing on how the gang is crazy, and not the environment around them.  That scene felt far more removed from reality than I feel I'm used to seeing, and its the connection, or lack thereof, to said reality that makes the gang's antics so funny.  Even the arguably crazier things, like burning people's residencies to the ground often carried serious consequences for them.

That being said, it was a very funny scene, and Charlie and Mac eating the soup was even funnier.  Grosse in the best kind of way.  It's also nice to see that even this far down the road, the writers, in showing the hesitation of Dee and Dennis to kill Pop-Pop, continue to provide glimmers of hope that these people have the slightest of redemptive qualities.

As far as plot devices go, the hunt for an original Hitler is classic Sunny, playing on a familiar trope and adding that patented brand of wrong to it.  It starts off in bad taste and just gets progressively more disgusting, until were drowning in youth camps and puppy sterilization.  Then it all ends up being a zero-sum game which again highlights all the insanity that precedes it.

And who put those braces on Charlie?!  That was an amazing moment, punctuated by the manic genius of Charlie Day.  And the Duster, gotta love that Duster.

A show like Sunny can often get caught up in a never-ending battle of one-ups-man-ship with its own past, which frequently is the cause for jumping the shark.  I don't get that impression with watching this episode.  It feels more or less on par with the level of crazy the show's been running at, and the connection to series continuity prevents it from feeling like they pulled the idea out of thin air.

Dennis and Dee's plot could've been better, but Mac and Charlie's was top notch stuff.

In closing, Fuck Yeah, Ryan Gosling.

80% = ***1/2 = "Amazing"


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