FX Channel's exercise in poor taste and self-degrading humor isn't for everyone. In fact, I'd venture to say that those of sound mind and clear conscience should probably avoid 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' like a plague-riddled corpse. There haven't been many shows that thrive on lowering the bar, making its five characters sink to new depths that, before the show aired, seemed unfathomable, but for this set of thirteen episodes, Charlie (Charlie Day), Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Mac (Rob McElhenney), Dee (Kaitlin Olson), and Frank (Danny DeVito) don't resort to old hat in their never-ending quest to be the collective bane of society. The seventh season of the program feels plenty fresh, with some genuine "laugh out loud" episodes, though there are a few that make chapter skipping technology an underrated technical feature.
The owners and employees of Paddy's Pub, by their lonesome, are hardly a threat; when combined, much like 'Voltron' or the 'Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers,' their talents increase exponentially. Why would the guys and gal want to actually work and make a living when they can spend their day at the bar playing a game of CharDee MacDennis, which tests their ungodly thresholds for physical and psychological pain? What happens when the degenerate Frank finally finds a woman he deems worthy of marriage, despite being a drunken crack whore in the literal sense? Can Philly's degenerates find new lows on the Jersey Shore, and what sorts of cruel debauchery will unfold when they reunite with their long lost "friends" at a high school reunion?
'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' thrives due to its daring portrayals and entirely vicious dialogue that cuts through taste like a Ginsu, and this seventh season has its moments of living up to the past insanity. From showing two homeless people having at each other underneath a boardwalk to hosting a child beauty pageant in an attempt to make Frank seem less like a pedophile, to breaking into a home to reenact some kind of 'Indiana Jones'-esque principles, there's nothing on television quite like this program. The utter disregard for safety, hygiene, decency, and even human life is on display non-stop, as this crew of rag-tag misfits act in an excess that is so over-the-top that it's strangely convincing, to the point where we no longer can be offended when they "go there," as it were.
Yet, this season has its low points. The constant digs at Mac's weight gain start out funny and cute, but as the season rolls on, they get to be a bit intolerable and less than humorous, a joke that was ridden hard and never put away. An entire episode is thrown away as we learn about Frank's history with clubs and cocaine, where the laughs are few and far between aside from some risque racial stereotype humor. Some episodes, like the one featuring an impending "storm of the century" causing Philadelphians to congregate en masse to super stores for supplies, never quite get off the ground, as the basis for what is funny (the guys wanting to go where a reporter with large breasts is stationed) never really pays off, with hair brained tangents that lack the "funnies." Even the final two episodes of the season, which are a two-part arc, fail to impress, as the implied humor based on characters we've never met (for the most part, at least) is frustratingly stale and tame. There's even a song and dance number to close it out, even with a nice surprise payoff, to add to the cliche.
The seventh season of 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' isn't bad by any means, but it's lacking in stand-out episodes that are funny from start to finish. The entire beauty pageant episode is a riot, a twisted, disgustingly offensive riot that plays on the insanity taking hold of some of the learning channels that have turned into bastions of reality bullshit programming, but no other episode even comes close to it. An entire episode centered around the guys being mad at being "shushed" in public is a prime example of lazy writing that seems more aimed at entertaining the cast than it does the audience. This is a show with legs, with some of the biggest degenerates on television, so hopefully the eighth season will be as comical as its "recast" teaser trailer. This season is just a little too inconsistent, a little bland, and, honestly, not as offensive as it could (and should!) have been.
The Disc: Vital Stats
Fox brings the seventh season of 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' to Blu-ray across two Region A marked BD50 discs. There are no packaging (aside from a cut-out eco-case) or menu gimmicks.
'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' hasn't always been the best looking series. Heck, some of the worst Blu-rays on the market are from the program when it was filmed in SD. A few years into the HD filming, I can say that Fox's 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encoded Blu-rays are such a vast improvement over their past failures that night and day isn't even a valid comparison. That said, we're still a long ways away from truly stellar discs, especially when the two discs in this season look entirely different, and we're not talking for better or worse here.
The first disc, which houses the first seven episodes, is the better looking of the two. While noise is sometimes visible in objects like beer bottles, we see super realistic skin tones, and some solid skin textures to boot. Whites are clean, hair is distinguished (with Dee's streaks coming through amazingly), and while there is some very minor artifacting, there's no texture issues in any bit of clothing or environment. The second disc, though, features some incredibly tiny edge jaggedness, internal edge rings, and a very obnoxious digital feeling that is incredibly distracting, one that obscures details just enough to draw the eye. The New Jersey episode on the first disc has its moments that aren't all that pretty (the sand, oh the sand!), but that quality is regular on disc two. Thankfully the best episodes are on the best disc this time around, so the ones you're more likely to go back to revisit won't remind you of the bad moments.
Each of the thirteen episodes in the seventh season of 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' are presented with lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks, and they're passable, nothing special, ho hum and/or humdrum. The entire mix is massively front heavy, as background ambience hits the fronts, as cars and random screeches and characters hit only a few speakers, while rears remain amazingly quiet, with just the lightest, slightest bit of activity finding its way to the rears, so faint that one has to strain to hear anything. Even the flashback episode with pumping disco music and jazz in clubs don't find any real bleed. That said, the dialogue, as often yelled and blunt as it is, is incredibly easy to understand, and is always acoustically accurate. Enter with minimal expectations, and be satisfied. Enter with high hopes, prepare to be dismayed.
I had a hard time marathoning this new home video release of 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.' Normally, I try to view the show a few episodes at a time, but I went whole hog one day. Thirteen episodes later, I hated humanity. I like this show, I really do, and even when it isn't top notch it's still quite a great experience, but there is a point when it becomes too much. Do yourself a favor: view sparingly, spread the viewing out over a few days or a week. As for this set, it's worth a look.