Sunday, September 23, 2007

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I got a screener DVD of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a show I’d heard good things about, but never checked out. It’s an FX comedy that at this point is primarily known for the fact that Danny DeVito is in the cast. DeVito is by no means the main character, but he fits into the ensemble well. The show isn’t great, but it’s funny enough.

I heard someone describe the show as “Seinfeld on crack,” which is something that would make a great pull quote, and is a decent description of the show. Like Seinfeld, the show is about four self absorbed single people in the city who have various wacky adventures over each episode. But, being an FX show, things are rawer than Seinfeld, and the comedy is more out there.

For example, the first episode features three plots, one in which two of the characters find a baby in a dumpster and decide to turn him into a child star, two other characters find interesting stuff at the dump and gradually become like homeless people and finally one character who poses as a hippie to sleep with a girl. It’s a densely packed show, with some interesting visual stuff. That episode featured a striking montage set to The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm” that was both funny and filmically engaging. I laughed a bunch of times during all the episodes of the show, though there were some ups and downs to the episodes. An Invicible parody didn’t work as well as that first episode.

Throughout, there were some things that annoyed me. While I really liked the rawness of the cinematography, the happy 50s style music was tiring, and didn’t feel fresh at all. At times, the show moved into Family Guy style random comedy. Because the characters are so self absorbed and go into these flights of fancy, there’s no real emotional underpinning to the comedic universe. So, the episodes work or don’t work entirely on the laughs from this week’s plot. The best comedies, like HBO’s recent Flight of the Conchords have real emotion underlying the comedy. That show has moments that were just as fantastic, but you always felt the characters were emotionally real, and that makes it funnier.

But, that’s my personal taste in comedy. Most of the comedy I like comes out of real world situations, not the absurdity of this comic universe. But, a lot of people do love comedic works that take place in their own bizarre reality, like this one. It is far stronger and genuinely edgy than something like Family Guy, and I’m guessing this is a show that’s going to break out as word of mouth builds. If nothing else, it’s really easy to watch a bunch of episodes in a row and be consistently entertained.

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