When it comes to cable TV (that isn’t of the premium variety), there are few channels with original programming that truly stand out. USA has come into play in recent years for their “character’s welcome” franchise of shows and even TNT and TBS have some original programming mixed in with the syndicated shows and films. But when it comes to comedy and drama that is so expletive it should almost be on Showtime or HBO, FX reins king. While it too shows older films and the like, it’s also known for a whole variety of programming such as the Emmy-winning Damages, Nip/Tuck, and Rescue Me. But those who are looking for a real comedic treat (now that Rescue Me is between seasons) should look no further than FX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The show is without a doubt one of the rudest and crudest things I have ever seen on television—and that includes HBO and Showtime.
Step up to the bar at Paddy’s Pub and brace yourself for a shot of outrageous fun! Paddy’s may be the worst bar in Philadelphia, but the gang there sure knows how to party. Whether it’s Dee and Charlie’s flirtation with cannibalism, Frank’s glory-hole fixation, or Mac’s raucous reenactment of Dennis’s over-the-top sexual memoirs, nothing is sacred for these dysfunctional misfits as they hilariously destroy all possible boundaries of good taste. This set includes every episode of Season 4, including the hilarious musical finale: “The Nightman Cometh.”
It’s hard to believe that this show has already started its fifth season. It’s such a vulgar show that I’m truly surprised it found enough of an audience to last this long. On top of that this season just pushed things even further (so much so that the episode with the “glory hole” apparently lost advertisers due to the shadow on the wall). Still, even with the vulgarity that persists throughout each season, it manages to just entertain relentlessly. It’s essentially a meaner and cruder version of Seinfeld and being on basic cable at 10pm allows it to get away with saltier language and situations than any other comedy that airs on TV today.
Still being so rude and crude doesn’t always work in the show favor. While the season started out strong with Dee and Charlie’s obsession with human meat and the two-part “Mac and Charlie Die” story making for a nice middle ground for the season, things started to taper off towards the end of the season. While the finale of “The Nightman Cometh” made for a bizarre but satisfying cap to the season, the episodes that preceded it were simply “okay.” The time traveling “The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell” had a few laughs but ultimately rang hollow, while the “Paddy’s Pub: The Worst Bar in Philadelphia” episode had the gang kidnapping a reporter in a plot that was almost just a tad bit too outlandish, even for this show.
Still, this season did contain the episode “Who Pooped the Bed?” which stands out as a highlight for me. I have an extremely juvenile sense of humor and anything circling around toilet humor is an immediate A+ in my book. This episode wasn’t just hilarious for the sight gags and far-too-intimate details (that bit about what Artemis just had bleached was so out-of-nowhere that I actually wasn’t able to laugh the first time I watched the episode), but just the way they wrapped up the big “mystery” in the end like it was some kind of big murder made it stand out in the season. Plus all of the fake poop helped too.
So…yeah. This season is filthy and could easily offend…well, just about everyone, but if you can get into the brand of humor that the Gang dishes out episode after episode, then you’ll be in good hands with this season for the most part. It starts off strong and coasts to a satisfying finish and as such those who own previous seasons will have a hell of a time watching this one again. Plus after you’re done you can jump right into the fifth season, which is now airing at 10pm on Thursday nights. Shameless plug? Maybe. But I want a sixth season, so I’ll whore this show out as much as I can. Highly Recommended.
Fox has smashed his fourth season into their usual presentation for season sets now: a clear amaray viva multi-pak case that houses the three discs. A piece of cardboard on the outside replicates the cover art underneath and…I don’t know why Fox continues to include those but whatever. The packaging is good for what it is, but it kind of clashes with the previous season sets which were thin-pak slipcase efforts before. Still…more shelf space saved, so I can deal with a less cohesive flow. As an additional note that cover art? Awesome.
Video is a basic 4×3 effort (the show has, thankfully, switched to a 16×9 ratio for the fifth season) and looks better than your basic cable signal but…not by much. Still it’s a decent transfer for a show with a pretty straight forward color palette (the finale with the “Nightman Cometh” play is the only thing that pops off the screen throughout the entire season). Audio is similar with a DD5.1 mix that you won’t notice in the surrounds…it’s a comedy show and, as such, is focused in the fronts. Not a bad thing, but still not all that amazing either.
I had hoped for commentaries or…something more worthwhile for this set, but alas…only a few extras to check out, although there is one big one. We start off with a Dennis Reynolds: An Erotic Life (7:34) piece with Reynolds reading aloud his erotic memoirs in a smoking jacket and a solid, if too brief, Season 4 Blooper Reel (5:21). There’s a Rob Thomas Easter Egg (1:03) as well which I guess is a deleted scene. The only other extra? The The Nightman Cometh Live! (50:13).
Yes. You read that right. The live presentation of the season finale is nearly an hour long. It plays out the entire episode with extra dialogue and scenes and seeing as this thing is going to be touring around the US briefly (but nowhere near me, naturally) I was really delighted to be able to see this. It’s odd watching the show with a full audience laughing, but it was such a highly enjoyable experience that I almost completely forgot about the lack of any other extras.
So while the full extras list is rather disappointing, that near hour long live performance of the finale is just too damn funny to pass up viewing. Recommended.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 4 is now available on DVD.