The Good: Absolutely hilarious, Generally decent acting
The Bad: Limited DVD bonus features, Lack of value (only fifteen episodes)!
The Basics: One of the funniest shows ever continues with utterly unlikable characters with It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia Season Three!
For those who do not regularly follow my reviews, character is of utmost importance to me when it comes to continuing watching any television series. So it might seem incongruent that I find the characters on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia to be utterly without redeeming traits, yet I still rate the third season of the show so highly. The reason for that is simple: the characters are not supposed to be good people and they are not even supposed to be marginally likable. Instead, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia Season Three continues to explore how self-absorbed, destructive and idiotic Frank, Dennis and Dee Reynolds, Mac and Charlie can be.
And it is delicious. For those who did not tune into It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia Seasons One & Two (reviewed here!), the advantage to starting with It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia Season Three is that one manages to avoid the early episodes without Danny DeVito and jump in as the cast hits their stride. The half-hour comedy with fifteen episodes in Season Three is almost entirely episodic (there is one two-part episode), so what came before and what comes after has no bearing on where the characters are in this season.
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia Season Three is exceptionally funny, mostly from crude humor and concept episodes that set up the five most nihilistic and self-centered people in the world for zany experiences. In this season, Mac and Dee try to make a dumpster baby famous and with Dennis they try out for the Philadelphia Eagles. While Charlie tries to determine if Frank is his father, he continues to pine for the waitress. The McPoyles take everyone hostage, leaving it to Frank to rescue them and Mac and Frank start a sweatshop to make dresses that Dee designed.
After trying to sell the bar and getting jobs at a competitor, the gang finds itself back at Paddy's Pub and in the drug-dealing business, which puts them in the crosshairs of Philadelphia's warring gangs. Dee dates a guy that Dennis claims is retarded, Dennis has trouble in the neighborhood because he bears a strong resemblance to a registered sex offender and when Mac starts seeing his pre-op transsexual friend, the gang comes to believe he is a serial killer. And after impersonating cops and vigilantes, the gang has to dance in a dance-a-thon to save Paddy's.
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia Season Three succeeds because it truly is funny. Some of the humor writes itself. Pretty much all of the jokes in “Dennis Looks Like A Registered Sex Offender” have to do with molestation, pedophilia or just how hard it is for sex offenders to reintegrate to society. But from the title, one pretty much can figure the show is going to go lowbrow and it does . . . very fast.
But some of the humor is riotous dialogue that is expertly delivered. While the writers essentially milk the same joke twice in “The Gang Sells Out,” their conversations in front of the potential buyer are laugh-out-loud funny and hold up very well over multiple viewings. So, Charlie, Mac and Dennis arguing in front of the “corporate drone” about the perks the CEO must have (like the helicopter) is funny and trumped only by the conversation inspired by the same businessman admitting to the guys that he is gay. The conversation that ensues at the strip club about the type of gay men is incredibly funny and so smartly written that it manages to not be at all homophobic.
In the third season of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, the principles really have a bead on their characters and while they play despicable characters, they each do it exceptionally well. Danny DeVito does more than just breathe life into the ensemble; the accents Charlie Day's manic performances. Glenn Howerton proves himself a master of the authoritarian deadpan in episodes like "The Gang Sells Out" and "Frank Sets Sweet Dee On Fire." Kaitlin Olson is great with playing angry and self-righteous and Rob McElhenney continues to rock Mac as an often clueless and quiet protagonist.
Given that the cast of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is stable in the third season, it helps to know who the characters are. The characters in this season are:
Dennis Reynolds - Seduces an environmentalist by posing as one and makes his mother's mansion into a party house. After going toe-to-toe with a registered sex offender, he works as a male prostitute at the local country club. He impersonates a police officer and believes he has the dance moves to save the bar,
Dee Reynolds - Dennis' twin sister, she is exceptionally self-absorbed. She tries to raise the dumpster baby with Mac and is on her way to being a new kicker for the Philadelphia Eagles during open tryouts. Challenged by the other loser she knew growing up, she designs dresses on a lark and she desperately tries to become famous . . . which only gets her set aflame by Frank. She dates a white rapper that Dennis insists rode the special bus back in the day and she is the first one dumped when it looks like the guys will sell the bar,
Mac - The dimwitted friend of Dennis and Dee, he tries to start a band just because he thinks he'll look cool on stage. Accused of being a serial killer when he continues to pursue the transsexual, he works with Frank to keep the sweatshop running for Dee's dresses. His father gets out of prison and in an attempt to bond with him, he makes his life that much worse. With Dee, he becomes a vigilante trying to rule the streets with fear,
Charlie - Writer of the song "Nightman," he is the most disheveled of the bunch and most manic. Still interested in the waitress, he and Frank team-up to make a business out of selling garbage. When that fails, he drops acid and assumes the role of Green Man and gets held hostage by the McPoyle's. He tries to impress the waitress by managing the competing bar better than his friends and he goes on a Law & Order kick to try to defend Mac when they think he is a serial killer,
and Frank - Dennis and Dee's (and Charlie's?!) father, he is now pretty much destitute and he hunts for a will hidden in Paddy's Pub to get financially better. He leads the exploitation of the group when they try to make Dee famous and he pimps Dennis out at the country club. After getting bumped from the fake police force with Dennis, he puts a ringer into the dance-a-thon to win the bar.
Despite only having fifteen episodes, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia Season Three holds up very well over multiple viewings and it makes for a decent viewing investment, though when the series ends, there will be an ultimate boxed set which will be even better.
For other comedy show reviews, please check out my takes on:
30 Rock Season Four
Glee Season Two, Volume One
The Big Bang Theory Season Three
For other television program or DVD set reviews, please visit my index page for an organized listing!
© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.