Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Time of the Season: S3 of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (’07)

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on November 25, 2007

“You’re the most horrible people alive.”

Gotta give credit to the It’s Always Sunny folk for sticking to their guns. In its longest (14 eps), most widely exposed season yet, the show is same as it ever was, from the brilliantly lo-fi credit sequence to the small, self-contained cast and of course, the pure heartlessness. I seem to remember there at least being some attempts from the guys to temper their less magnanimous impulses in the first two seasons, but now it’s basically just an amorality free-for-all (the episode pictured above, in which Dee and Frank actually get married to try to con Dee’s father out of her dead mother’s money, is particular high/lowlight). The cast almost approaches Master Shake territory at some points when it comes to self-defeating assholeishness–times when it’d actually be in the characters’ best interests to do something decent, but they still can’t bring themselves to do it.

I have now watched over 30 episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in not even so many days. And like Mama always says, watching too much TV in a row will give you hairy palms. Same of course applies for Philadelphia, whose edge just starts getting duller if you watch too many episodes of it in too concentrated a period of time. Eventually it becomes sort of like “hmm, what racist/sexist/homophobic/xenophobic/anti-social/evil exploits will the gang get into this episode?” The show’s relatively newfound practice of titling its episodes in reference to the episode’s first scene, a sort of punchline to the opener’s set-up, started out as clever, but once you’re not only expecting the punchline, but you’re pretty much able to predict what the punchline’s gonna be, you know something’s not the way it should be.

Not to say it was a bad season, though. Plenty of good episodes, and plenty of great moments, most of which in some way involve Charlie Kelly, quickly becoming not only the show’s breakout character but one of the most hilarious characters on TV right now. His Serpico impression in “Bums: Making a Mess All Over the City” is topped only by the scenes of his two musical opuses, “Nightman” and “Dayman,” in “Sweet Dee Dates a Retarded Person.” Charlie gets closer every episode to being the true successor to George Costanza: the kind of character who’d be disgusting and disturbing if he wasn’t so lovably pathetic.

And once again, the entire season passes without any multi-episode plot arcs. No love interests, no plot twists, nothing really of consequence whatsoever. That’s all well and fine for now, but the show’s going to get boring pretty quickly without any sort of development–this isn’t House, the formula isn’t quite rock solid enough to never plan to deviate from it. But the establishment of a minor supporting cast is probably a good start, and hell, as long as they keep the classic Charlie moments and the WaWa references flowing, it’s hard to complain too much. Just no more “Gang Gets Hooked on [Drug]” episodes please.

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