IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA: SEASON 3
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
Charlie Day as CHARLIE
Rob McElhenney as MAC
Glenn Howerton as DENNIS
Kaitlin Olson as SWEET DEE
Danny DeVito as FRANK
Created by: Rob McElhenney
Studio: 20th Century Fox
BY KEVIN CARR
Deplorable characters have been a staple of my television enjoyment for years, going as far back as the days of Archie Bunker in “All in the Family.” It seems that every decade has its own awful people we love to watch each week. The 80s had “Married with Children,” and the 90s had “Seinfeld.” This decade gives us “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
The third season is available on DVD now, and it continues the misadventures of “the gang” from Paddy’s bar. This includes the idiot savant Charlie, the overly vain Dennis, the man-whore Mac, the bitter Sweet Dee and their father Frank. Together, they run Paddy’s bar, a dive in Philadelphia that is barely making money.
The show started with a whimper on FX, but after inserting Danny DeVito into the series and generating a cult following, it’s roaring into its fourth season, premiering on September 18. Looking back at the first three seasons, I have a special love for the first. It was small and intimate, yet the characters were such awful people, they managed to get in hilarious situations without going over the top.
By introducing DeVito into the second season, the show stumbled a bit. It was still funny, but it took this seasoned actor a couple episodes to gel with the rest of the cast. Finally in the third season, I can accept him as Frank rather than seeing him as Danny DeVito on set with a bunch of relative unknowns.
The third season brings the gang into bigger and more expansive adventures. Whether they’re trying out for the Philadelphia Eagles, getting held hostage or fighting off the mob, the show has grown. It loses a bit of its intimacy and low-key nature I enjoyed in the first season, but I still adore the show in all of its politically incorrect glory.
Like other shows with deplorable characters, we see the gang become more and more caricatures of their original selves. However, it is this extreme nature that makes the show work, and the commitment of the actors sells the show completely.
What makes “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” work as a show is the fact that, like “South Park,” it has no qualms about offending anyone. Nothing is sacred. Throughout the season, the gang finds a dumpster baby… and proceeds to exploit it, they get hooked on cocaine, and they don’t blink at a death in the family. Even the Waitress gets to explore a larger and more erratic character than just a girl in a coffee shop that blows Charlie off.
One thing that really gelled with this show in the third season is the use of the titles of the episodes as punch lines. Don’t look at the list before you hit “Play All” because you’ll laugh harder when the title pops up on the screen.
The Season Three DVD comes with cast commentary on select episodes, a gag reel, Season Three TV spots, a featurette on Dancing Guy (which you’ll understand after watching “Frank Sets Sweet Dee on Fire”) and a “Sunny Side Up Volume 2” featurette. However, the best feature hands down is a spotlight on the McPoyles, who return in their full glory in season three. It’s enough to turn your stomach… in a good way.