' ' Cinema Romantico: It's Always Sunny On Thursday Nights

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's Always Sunny On Thursday Nights

I hold the opinion that, in general, television anymore is a wasteland devoid of even the most modest entertainment. Perhaps this stems from my feeling that Reality TV is, along with Michael Bay, Jessica Simpson and Colorado Football, the bane of all existence. Seriously, I have thought at least 92 times that Reality TV has played itself out, that it's hit a wall and can go absolutely nowhere else, and then I see an advertisement for "So You Think You Can Skee Ball?" or "America's Next Top Park Ranger". But I digress....

Thursdays, however, are the one night when creativity and actual artistry reclaim the airwaves and you can indulge in something that is tasty, healthy and filling.

I've written before of my immense fondness for NBC's brilliant "30 Rock" and I'm even excited again for "The Office", what with Amy frickin' Ryan returning from last season's final episode. But those two shows do not premiere until next Thursday. Tonight, however, on FX at 9:00 CST you can catch the season premieres (2 episodes, back to back) of the raucous and raucously funny and very, very, very, very wrong "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia", a show revolving around 5 friends (sort of), Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Mac (show creator Rob McElhenney), Charlie (Charlie Day), Sweet Dee (Kaitlin Olson), and Dennis and Sweet Dee's legal father Frank (Danny DeVito), who run a bar (sort of) called Paddy's in the City of Brotherly Love.

To attempt an inital summary at what sort of entertainment this show offers up allow me to borrow a plot synopsis written by the Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan of one of this evening's episodes: "Picture a scene of two people in a morgue, looking for human flesh they can consume (it's a long story). They reject taking flesh from the body of a dead African-American, deciding a fleshier white corpse looks more promising, then discuss whether that decision was racist."

Does that sound appealing? Or, for instance, take this summation of the show as a whole from ever-reliable wikipedia: "The series deals with a variety of controversial topics, including abortion, gun control, physical disabilities, racism, sexism, religion, the Israeli/Palestinian situation, terrorism, transsexuality, slavery, incest, sexual harassment in education, the homeless, statutory rape, drug addiction, pedophilia, nuclear proliferation in North Korea, child abuse, mental illness, gay rights, bulimia, prostitution, nazism, and cannibalism." That's a "variety", all right, and it doesn't even touch my favorite subplot from last year in which Dennis and Frank pretend to be police officers which prompts Charlie to dress and act like Al Pacino's "Serpico" and try to take them down. Subject matter aside, it is probably as close to genuine screwball comedy as you're likely to find in this day and age.

It must be made clear - if it hasn't been made that already - that this show is not for everyone. It's been described as "Seinfeld on crack" and as a person who knows more about "Seinfeld" than you, everyone you've met in your life, and everyone that everyone you've met in your life has met in their life, I can safely say that comparison is apt, though entirely accurate.

The old mantra on "Seinfeld" was "No Hugging, No Crying". Now, on "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" there's been some of each and that's okay because compared to Dennis, Mac, Charlie, Sweet Dee, and Frank, Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer seem secure, balanced, and upstanding. The "Sunny" quintet is so spectacularly timid and neurotic they have to cry and hug every now and again just to keep it together.

It was also said of "Seinfeld" that "the characters gleefully do not grow." No worries, because the "Sunny" characters don't grow either. Not only do they not grow, one might argue they regress. Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer learned lessons they simply chose to ignore. Dennis, Mac, Charlie, Sweet Dee, and Frank seem to learn lessons except for the fact they're the wrong ones.

A common complaint leveled at the show is that all the characters talk alike. And they do, undeniably. And, as they say, that's the point. Imagine five people are together all the time every day all day. Do you think they might start to sound alike? Remember the scene in "Curb Your Enthusiam" when Larry David and Jason Alexander (i.e. George Costanza) are yelling at each other for, like, two minutes? Imagine that scene lasting for twenty minutes but with five people instead of two who sound alike yelling at each other and that's "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia". If you can't take it, I understand.

If you can, by all means, tune in. Shows this good need your support. And if you had ever pondered, as I long did, what Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer would have been like in their 20's, you'll finally know.


Wretched Genius said...

My DVR is primed and ready for this season.

Also, 30 Rock doesn't start up again until October 30th. NBC is going to use the time slot for a month to try and kick-start Kath & Kim.

Nick Prigge said...

WHAT??? I didn't realize that about "30 Rock". That's ashame. It appears the joy I get from being deprived of things I love has manifested itself again.

Rory Larry said...

Why you need to be a Hollywood exec, Nick. Genius show ideas

"So You Think You Can Skee Ball?" or "America's Next Top Park Ranger"

The street wise judge talking about how skee ball is done on the street; the timid judge who always finds a positive thing to say about one's skee ball ability; and the angry foreigner judge who thinks no one in america is capable of skee balling correctly.

And the stopping Yogi from stealing the picnic baskets will be the best reality show contest in some time.

Nick Prigge said...

No, no, no, NO, NO, NO!!!! You misunderstand!!! I don't want these shows made!!! For the love of God, I don't want them made!!!! These are bad ideas, TV execs! BAD IDEAS!

I've become my own worst enemy.