DVD Review: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

20th Century Fox
Series •••• Picture •••½ Sound ••• Extras ••••
Pardon my language, but the characters on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia are a bunch of assholes. They make the Seinfeld four look like, well, saints.

And that's a good thing.

Sunny is the one show that makes me laugh out loud every time I watch it. I inevitably wind up saying "That is so wrong" at least two or three times each episode. The titles give you a pretty good idea of the degree of wrongness: "Charlie Got Molested," "The Gang Goes Jihad," "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom," and "The Gang Exploits a Miracle." If you don't like your humor that twisted and bent, then Sunny isn't the show for you.

. . . Are they gone yet? Okay, good. For those of you who do enjoy going down such a warped path, you'll be well rewarded over the course of this three-disc set's 17 episodes. Sunny's tight budget is befitting a show that wallows in its relative squalor. Paddy's Bar, the ramshackle hole owned and operated by the five main characters, is a grungy, grimy locale. Dingy lighting, blown-out neon signs, and scores of framed, faded black-and-white photos all help to set the stage. In "Charlie Gets Crippled," the coffee-stained walls in the bar's heinous bathroom are about as appealing as the discolored enamel of a smoker's teeth. And it's not any better in the apartment that Charlie (Charlie Day) ends up sharing with Frank (Danny DeVito), its faded greenness set off by a soiled hallway carpet. Shabbiness continues to rear its ugly head in the run-down neighborhood where "Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare" (yep, that's the name of the ep) and the dank prison visiting room where Charlie and Mac (Rob McElhenney) meet with Mac's dad in "Dennis and Dee Get a New Dad."

The surround sound isn't really at play here, but no matter. The treacly, jaunty, transition-music choices are in perfect contrast to the sordid scenes they're scoring. But the hands-down winner is the theme that runs over the opening credits, a cheerful, string-based ditty that suckers you into thinking you've entered Mary Tyler Moore Land, not F---, Marry, Kill Land.

The extras make this set that much more special. The two commentaries are practically like bonus episodes, as the whole cast, improv veterans all, riff mightily on everything they see (as well as confirm my feelings about the title sequence during their collective "Hundred Dollar Baby" chat). The Kaitlin Audition Featurette shows how instantaneously Kaitlin Olson (who plays Frank's daughter Sweet Dee) fits into the boys' club, while Making a Scene and Sunny Side Up give all the background you need, the latter helping clarify the difference between humor that's funny and humor that's offensive. The Gang Fucks Up is good, not-so-clean blooper fun, complete with a few split-screen angles to give added perspective to the screwups at hand.

If you can appreciate the subtlety, subtext, and wit that burbles underneath the show's crudeness, loudness, and slapstick, then I strongly urge you to book Philly as your next DVD destination. [NR] English, Dolby Surround; Spanish and French, Dolby Digital stereo; full frame; three dual-layer discs.

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