I've sung enough praises in the last two 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' Blu-ray reviews to probably last most of our readers a few lifetimes. It's hard to put into words exactly what makes this show so watchable, so interesting and peculiar, as there's a constant "out of left field" atmosphere that makes damn near every episode a blast to watch unfold. You never know how dark the humor is going to get, how cruel, bizarre, or insane the antics of the cast will become. There are few shows quite like this one, with an instant hook, a constantly pushed or destroyed boundary, and more laugh out loud moments in any given season than the entire lifetime works of Adam Sandler and company.
The sixth season of the FX comedy gem definitely has its own feel, differing dramatically from the previous seasons, with no apparent redundancy or repetitiveness. It's also a tiny bit less effective in this twelve episode set than it was last year. With a few more failed moments, including an entire failed episode or two, this season may not rank up at the top of the list, but it most certainly is still a fun, very entertaining romp that is sure to please and/or disgust.
This season starts out with a hell of a one-two punch, as a two parter focuses on a very hot topic in politics today, gay marriage, and to a greater extent, marriage in general. Let's just say that this isn't your traditional learning experience. In fact, it's one of the most politically incorrect, yet awesomely hilarious stories in the show to date, when a past character, whose gender shall remain ambiguous, returns to the show, with a bit more certainty, leading Mac (Rob McElhenney) to grow frustrated, seeking out the good book to testify against his former lover. Dennis (Glenn Howerton) and a high school flame (played by Ivan Reitman's daughter Catherine) run off and get hitched, although their rekindled flame may burn out quicker than most, while Charlie (Charlie Day) and Frank (Danny DeVito) seek out their own form of a special union beyond their existing titles of roommates.
I could probably go on and on for the entire length of this review about the first two episodes. It's the show at the top of its form, making people uncomfortable with crude, bizarre comedy and the egotistical selfishness that make all the characters so damn lovable. As much as I would love to carry on and on, though, there's a more pressing matter this season, one that reaches through the majority of the episodes, due to a real life pregnancy. That's right, Sweet Dee (Kaitlin Olson) got knocked up, and it's quite the pregnancy, throwing the guys for a loop as they wonder which one of them, if any, or any of Dee's many recent lovers is the father, all while Dee herself tries a few new things in her life, as well, delving into her love and failed career of acting.
'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' is a riot this time around. The entire boat episode is insane, especially the "incredibly dark" musings of Dennis as he ponders ways to make women feel as though they're required to sleep with him, while a summer episode regarding the class (or lack thereof) of the close-knit friends is called into question when none of them are allowed entry at the high end swim club. There's even a potential new member to the crew who was abandoned years before due to Charlie's intense hatred for him, an outsider who everyone loves, but can't quite get their manipulative little fingers around. Heck, even a few members of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team show up, a longtime dream of a few of the characters. Notice I didn't say dream come true, though.
As much as I enjoyed this season, the sheer awfulness of the fourth episode alone turned out to be enough for me to ding the score. It's definitely the least funny episode of the program I've seen to date, centering around hockey training for an intermission contest shot and a poorly produced podcast. I don't think I've ever gone from laughing so routinely to being this stone faced before. Much like the show itself, it was like laughing at the extreme misfortune of others, only for it to bite me in the rear end when it was all said and done. Perhaps it was punishment for enjoying the marriage episodes as much as I did.
Thankfully, though, there's plenty of fun spread out through the rest of the episodes, including a superb homage to the 'Lethal Weapon' series, as the gang produced their own fifth film, and it's really one of the funniest film parodies out there. This season also has a Push it to the Limit montage, the funniest use of one of those inflatable used car lot dancing cactus-things, and the most insane Tom Sizemore role in history. Heck, even Dave Foley shows up for a few episodes to steal a few scenes!
Most shows turn ugly or stupid when a real life pregnancy complicates a season, necessitating odd camera angles, use of doubles, or rushed story developments that didn't have their pieces properly introduced to be put into play. With 'It's Always Sunny,' this real life occurrence couldn't make the show any uglier or meaner, as it already has the market cornered there, but instead gives the Dee character a ton more interesting, selfish possibilities in a season otherwise dominated by the guys. She's showing from the start, but the payoff is absolutely one of the best for any show that ever had to tread these waters. I applaud the finale of this season for how daring and utterly wrong it is.
The Disc: Vital Stats
'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The Complete Season Six' comes to Blu-ray across two Region A marked BD50 discs. Disc one houses the first seven episodes, disc two the final five, as well as a hefty chunk of the extras. There is no packaging frills to "ooh" and "ahh" about, though the inclusion of a Season Play mode makes viewing this series a much easier experience. Every television on home video Blu-ray should have such a feature.
Now we're cooking! 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' is in actual HD this time around. No, not a horrible upconversion like the last few times around. Better still, this first high def season actually made it to Blu-ray, meaning Fox didn't just abandon the show after what was more than likely poor Blu-ray sales figures, dropping the hilarious show into 'Prison Break' territory. It's like all the stars are aligned. I'm going to get some lotto tickets later!
The 1080p (real 1080p!) transfers provided for this season aren't perfect by any means, nor are they the best looking television on Blu-ray. Hardly. What we do get here, though, is definitely presentable, watchable, and the furthest thing from despicable (ahem, Season Five, ahem) yet from this FX show.
This release does have some severe ups and downs, though. On the bright side, textures can, at times, be phenomenal. Finer detail and distinction is present where nothing was before, so there's a ton to look at this time around. Picture depth can be absolutely amazing, which is shocking. Colors are bold, grain untouched, edges natural, and artifacts dramatically reduced. To counter that, though, are a series of minor issues that add up. Skin tones can be a little smooth feeling at times, and a tad harsh when it comes to lighting. There are some random jaggies that pop up, particularly in random foreground objects like napkin holders, while there are a few instances of light noise, as well, particularly in a certain cat shirt in the second episode. The one real concern I have is with the "The Gang Gets Lost in the Woods" episode, where the entire picture takes a nosedive. Artifacting pops up, random raw, murky shots reign supreme, sharpness just disappears, and black levels crush badly.
I'm thrilled to finally see this show in real high def, though. Fans, if you've stuck with it this long, it's time to see the show in a whole new light!
The past two releases of 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' have left me wanting when it came to the audio, wanting being a polite way to put it. This sixth season of the show is a marked step up in sound quality. It's still nothing to write home about, but it's definitely an improvement, there can be no arguing that.
Room dynamics are almost always proper, with very few harsh or distorted lines in the twelve episode run. Prioritization is solid, while music exhibits nice range, even if it doesn't hit the rear speakers in the slightest bit. Rears aren't abandoned, though, as some random ambience creeps to the back, putting the bar in its place proper with random car noise in the background from time to time (loaded rooms still often feel the opposite, but baby steps...). Bass isn't a frequent contributor, even if it accents the sledgehammer blows in the third episode nicely.
'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' is still going strong after six seasons, with the same awesome dynamic opening new doors for comic relief. The cast all get their moments this season, though Charlie, Mac, and Frank definitely get the best gags and episode focuses. This Blu-ray release is the first time the show has been in actual HD, and it's a big step up from the previous seasons! The extras are fantastic, as a whole, including an awesome Blu-ray exclusive game. Put this set on your "to do" list. It doesn't matter if you're a show veteran or a newcomer, there's no bad time to pick up on this great FX comedy!