Friday, November 12, 2010

It's Always Sunny review

Review of It's Always Sunny:
"Dee Reynolds: Shaping America's Youth"

Knowing that the show always returns to the status quo at episode’s end, it was somewhat of a guilty pleasure seeing the possibility play out that Dee and Charlie might have turned their lives around for the better last week. Although the gang’s meant to be dislikeable in every possible way, Dee and Charlie tend to be a little easier to root for because they’re both stuck at the bottom of their group’s social hierarchy to some extent. Dee is regularly seen by the guys as Dennis’ tag-along sister and, due to his illiteracy, Charlie accidentally shut himself out of management.

Last week, Dee met up with her high school acting teacher and was encouraged to take a position as his assistant. She didn’t necessarily get the theater class jumping for joy with her impromptu presentation of Frankenstein but she got them to participate and to my surprise, she wasn’t fired by episode’s end.

Similarly, Charlie stumbled upon the discovery last week that there’s an actual job market for “Charlie work” called janitorial work. The combination of a power waxer, respect, and minimum wage proved too irresistible for Charlie to leave when the gang wanted him back.

This week’s episode was all about anticipating how long this high life would last before things fell apart and exactly how they would fall apart. As anyone who’s ever substitute taught at a public school with all its rules and regulations knows, there was no better possible setting for this scenario to play out. Dee and Charlie’s general disregard for anything and everyone around them practically makes them ticking time bombs and that made it a lot more fun.

Dee’s desire to be liked by her students (as a former substitute teacher, I can attest that’s more of a necessity than the administrators will ever acknowledge) led to her spontaneous announcement that she would take the class to Broadway which gets a quick veto by the principal (guest star Dave Foley) because she’s just a substitute and the school has no arts budget. Meanwhile, Charlie starts mentoring a kid who dons face paint and the principal quickly vetoes Charlie’s solution to bathe the kid or even talk to the kids in general.

As a backup plan to win the favor of the kids, Dee takes them to Paddy’s Pub for a movie screening hoping that they’ll find it cool to physically be in a bar. This is where the B-plot takes over the episode somewhat abruptly: Mac, Dennis and Charlie filmed a movie sequel to Lethal Weapon 4 in which Mac donned blackface to play Murtaugh and they hope that showing it to an audience at Paddy’s will squelch the debate over whether blackface is acceptable.

The movie itself was ridiculously entertaining but the whole side plot was sloppily tagged on and robbed us of what could have been a winning third act involving Charlie and Dee. When you have material that good and Dave Foley to work with on top of that, a B-plot isn't even necessary.

Instead, there is quick little coda wrapping things up. The gang gets reunited via Dee and Charlie getting fired and to their credit, our heroic janitor and substitute theater teacher accept their fates pretty well. An added twist I enjoyed is that Principal Dave Foley is probably also getting fired himself. Like Jason Sudeikis last week, Dave Foley is pitch perfect casting as the only sane man in the room. He practically defined the role for American audiences in Newsradio and he played that last scene perfectly. He's such an endearing schlub, that I'm hoping this isn't the last we see of him on Sunny.

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