Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New season of "Sunny" brings the funny

A man eats a pear -- the whole thing, including the core, the stem and the produce sticker. A group of people organize an intervention for an alcoholic friend -- because he's no longer a fun drunk. A potential surrogate mom offers the couple hiring her a discount for carrying twins.
That's right folks -- the degenerate freaks of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" are back. And boy, did I miss them. FX's dark, depraved and often hilarious company returns for a fifth season Thursday at 10 p.m. I've watched the first four episodes and, so far, it's shaping up to be a fun season. For the uninitiated, the show focuses on five people who own a bar in South Philadelphia: creepy Charlie (Charlie Day), delusional Mac (Rob McElhenny), vain, arrogant Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Dennis's needy sister Dee (Kaitlin Olson) and middle-aged degenerate Frank (Danny DeVito). In each episode, this gang of misfits embarks on some sort of scheme, ranging from the commonplace (a road trip to the Grand Canyon) to the bizarre (the aforementioned intervention).
In the season premiere, Mac, Frank, Charlie and Dennis decide to take advantage of the mortgage crisis by flipping a house in foreclosure. That the previous owners are still living in the house doesn't seem to bother them. Meanwhile, Dee rents out her womb to a yuppie couple, but seems more interested in swimming in their pool than in participating in the circle of life.
The show can be hit or miss, but there's always at least one big laugh per episode (many of them provided by the hilarious Olson who, were she on a more prestigious and less vulgar show, would have a stack of Emmys by now). In the premiere, the best moments come from Mac and Dennis trying to pass themselves off of as a pair of real estate agents named Honey and Vinegar. Trust me -- it makes sense in context. Of the episodes I watched, the second -- "The Gang Hits the Road" -- was my favorite, mainly because it includes Olson drunkenly belting out the Soul Asylum classic "Runaway Train" to a young hitchhiker. How do you not love that?
The show isn't for the easily offended, or for those who prefer their humor polished and sophisticated. It's dumb, crude and sometimes a bit too bizarre for its own good. But when it works, which is a lot, it's the funniest show on TV.
Note: tonight I'm going to see "The Nightman Cometh," the "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" live show that's touring the country. I'll be posting my thoughts tomorrow (provided that I'm not too exhausted), so look out for it.

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