Tag Archives: FX

Lights Out: How Many Boxing Metaphors Can I Cram Into This Review?

You can’t go so far as to say that Patrick “Lights” Leary is washed-up. He bowed out of the sport after losing the heavyweight title, and has spent the five years since then doing interviews, running a failing gym, and letting his brother shuffle around all the money he made so that it doesn’t look like he’s hurting as much as he is. Leary isn’t begging for interviews (although he’s not above hosting the odd bingo tournament here and there) or appearing on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ He’s not a drunk. He loves his wife and his three daughters and does his best to do right with them. So early in the pilot episode I wondered if maybe the show wasn’t as complex as I was hoping for. Leary’s hurting for money — he’s got the IRS on his back — so there are definitely things he’s hiding from his family, but all things considered, he seems to float pretty close to the surface.

It turns out I was wrong, and what I mistook for being shallow was more akin to a snake, coiled and ready to strike. Leary doesn’t like doing bad things, but his desire to provide for his family overrides all that, and the pilot gives us a small, yet very satisfying, glimpse of that.

I guess I’d be wrong in saying that the desire to be a good husband and father is the only driving force behind Leary. The fight that lost him the heavyweight title five years before was controversial, and the fighter to whom he lost is on TV, asking for a rematch. He left the sport mainly due to his wife, who after the fight told him that if he couldn’t leave the boxing world behind, their marriage was over. Since then, Leary’s had something to prove, although who he has to prove it to is a question Leary himself may not have the answer to.

You may recognize Leary, actor Holt McCallany, as that guy from Fight Club. He also did a stint on ‘CSI’ and a few other shows, but yeah, he’s that guy from Fight Club. And he really brings a sort of childlike fascination to the people and events happening around him. I guess being famous for beating the hell out of people will do that to a person. The ensemble the show surrounds him with does a pretty good job, too. What I like most about Leary’s family is that none of them are boozers, hooked on drugs, or out until all hours of the night fornicating. Well, his oldest daughter is out until all hours of the night. The fornicating thing, we’ll just have to wait and see. All of that could come out in later episodes, it just hasn’t in what I’ve seen so far.

FX hasn’t been doing much in the way of bad TV lately, and judging from its first episode, ‘Lights Out’ looks to be another notch in their belt. Unlike the ill-fated ‘Terriers,’ the show’s commercials are pretty clear on what the show is, so here’s hoping it’ll have that much more staying power. Still, you have to ask what the sell-by date for a show like this is. From what I’ve seen so far, the first season deals with Leary’s comeback into the boxing world. So, he either makes it or he doesn’t… and then what? I definitely don’t see Leary as a saint, but I also don’t see him sinking as deep as Walter White. But wherever the show goes, I can’t wait to see it. Showrunner Warren Leight’s already done such a great job right out of the gate that I’m more than willing to see where he takes us. I guess you could say, ‘Lights Out’ delivers a knock out punch!**

**One. One boxing metaphor.

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The Year End Review: TV

It’s that time of year again. And I mean, it’s really that time of year. Any more time and it’d be next year. Speaking of which, how many of you are absolutely sick of the fact that I can’t get my s**t together and update this thing more regularly? Well, too bad! I’m pretty set in my ways, and if I wouldn’t change for any of my three wives, I probably won’t change for you. Anyway, it was a pretty good year for TV, and for those of you who care, these are my top 10 picks. If I had more time on my hands, this list might look somewhat different**, but I can’t watch everything. So, in no particular order…

Lost. I’d be remiss (what does that mean?) if I didn’t mention one of the greatest TV shows in the history of TV (and shows). ‘Lost’ earns its place on the list more in recognition of the entire series than the sixth season, which most people will admit had its problems. But for all of the questions that were left unanswered and weird, glowy caves that had holes in the middle that needed to be plugged up or else the world would explode — I mean, seriously, what was that? — the show delivered a finale that was as emotionally satisfying as I could have hoped for. And before the numbers, polar bears and four-toed statues, it was the characters that made the show what it was. And that damn dog gets me every time.

Treme. For a little while, ‘Treme’ felt like the kid who was a little too cool for school. It didn’t really invite us into its world, but kept us at arm’s length, telling us that we just didn’t get it. But slowly, as if in the arms of a generous lover, it opened up to us. And once the characters started doing a little more than hang out, drink and play music it turned into appointment television. And the fact that it comes from David Simon and could probably go on for six or seven seasons without building toward any clear ending makes it one of the best character studies in recent memory.

Louie. Hands down, the best comedy of the year. FX told Louie CK that, even though they couldn’t pay him as much as other networks, they would give him complete creative control over his own show, and the opportunity was not wasted. I hate to sound trite (no I don’t), but he’s really reinvented the sitcom, with each episode taking the form of a mostly-self-contained short film. And not only is it hilarious, but introspective and thoughtful. Not to mention gorgeously shot. If you haven’t caught this one yet, you can stream it on Netflix. I really can’t recommend it enough.

Archer. ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Boardwalk Empire’ are all good and well, but man cannot live on live-action drama alone. Solid animated fare is important, and unfortunately ‘American Dad’ can’t carry the load all by itself. ‘Archer’ comes from the fine folks who brought us ‘Frisky Dingo,’ which for two short years carried the mantle ‘Arrested Development’ left behind after it was canceled. The show takes the world’s most self-absorbed incompetent, gives him a double-0 rating and sets him loose on the world. Hilarity ensues. And when I say hilarity ensues, I mean it. Did you read what I said about ‘Frisky Dingo’? The show comes back for another season in January, so check it out.

Breaking Bad. Suck it, ‘Supernatural’ fans. In its third season, ‘Breaking Bad’ made the jump from engrossing (and high-grossing!), to the best show on TV. And the season before was already pretty great. Watching the lengths Walter White is willing to go to, at first to provide for his family, but then to satisfy his own ego is completely devastating. Walter shooting that drug dealer in the head at the end of “Half Measures” had me screaming at my TV, and if the season finale is any indication (it is), things are only going to get darker going forward. Unfortunately, AMC’s schedule is all jacked up, so the show won’t be back until July. The curse of cable television!

Mad Men. This is another show that doesn’t really have any sort of clear end in sight. And because it’s AMC’s darling, they’re probably going to try and keep it around for as long as they can. The trick then becomes how to keep it feeling fresh and not like it’s spinning its wheels. Season 4 did that. Don has his own agency, and now that he’s divorced he’s back out on the prowl. Although I guess that was the case even when he was married. Anyway, the season featured some of the series’ best work. “The Suitcase” and the showdown between Don and Peggy being only one example. Expect that one to be showered with Emmys at next year’s ceremony. For my money, the show came in just a hair behind ‘Breaking Bad’ this year, but…it was a very fine hair.

Fringe. I don’t think anyone really gives a s**t if a show comes “from the mind of J.J. Abrams” anymore. And if you ask me that’s only worked in ‘Fringe’s’ favor. When it wasn’t the hit some expected it to be, it kind of dropped off the radar. That really gave it carte blanche to go balls to wall and make a show for the people who were watching it, the people who were carrying it into second and third season renewals. This season’s proved that like no other, and really shows what risks the showrunners were willing to take with things. Thankfully they all paid off. I’m feeling a little better about the show’s move to Friday now than I was when I first heard about it, so hopefully its audience will move with it and it’ll be back for a fourth season.

Boardwalk Empire. AMC winning all those Emmys must have really pissed HBO off, because they’re coming back in a big way. It took ‘Boardwalk Empire’ about four episodes to find its footing, but after that it was strong all the way to the finish. It’s always good to see such a big show get things right, and that was before we saw exactly how big a freak Agent Van Alden was, and met Richard Harrow (who’s thankfully been promoted to a series regular in season two). What the show lacks in ‘Sopranos’ it makes up for in ‘Deadwood,’ which sucks me in every single time. Can we lay down some cash that season two will open with a montage of all the characters getting dressed in the morning?

30 Rock. Oh ’30 Rock,’ it’s so good to have you back. After a lackluster fourth season, the show’s really amped things up this year, delivering several episodes that are as good as anything they’ve done in the past. I mean, you’ve got Matt Damon! Paul Giamatti! Liz’s Julia Roberts laugh! John Effing Slattery! I cower before the brilliance of his performance. Now, if the show could just find more excuses to bring Jon Hamm back, all would be right with the world. Really, this is the show propping up NBC’s Thursday night lineup. ‘The Office’ has turned into the grandpa with Parkinson’s disease. Every once in a while it remembers how good it was, but it mostly thinks we’re its wife and yells at us for not having supper on the table when it gets home from work. ‘Outsourced’ is garbage and ‘Community’ is too busy smelling its own private parts to do much else. When the lineup grows by a hour come January, it’s gonna be ’30 Rock’ and ‘Parks and Rec,’ so get ready for it.

Justified. FX is really trying to roll with the big dogs as of late, at thanks to shows like ‘Justified,’ it’s paying off. The show had a mix of procedural and serialized storytelling, and I think that as the season progressed, it realized how much stronger those serialized elements were, and so followed them more as the season closed out. Timothy Olyphant is a great actor, and fans of ‘Deadwood’ know that this role was almost tailor-made for him. The back and forth between him and Walt Goggins is great, but honestly, I’d watch a show of Olyphant just ramming Dewey Crow’s face into steering wheels.

And there you have it. A pretty good year, all things considered. And next year we’ve got ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Luck,’ ‘Lights Out,’ ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ and more ‘Parks and Rec’ to look forward to, so it’s going to be pretty crowded. So until then and as a always, excelsior true believers!

**’Community’ still wouldn’t be on it, because it still isn’t that good.

It’s Always Sunny, “Charlie Kelly: King of the Rats,” and “The Gang Gets Stranded in the Woods”

“Gatsby believed in the good joke, the kick-in-the-nuts future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. … And one fine morning —- So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the MEH.”

This altered quote was one of my first brushes with literary depth when I was 13 years old. The Great Gatsby opened the door for a year of reading One flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Scarlet Letter, Catcher in the Rye, Huck Finn and some accompanying bleak short stories that would reaffirm my cynical world view and remind that I am not the first person to think people are inherently disappointing and terrible. My father had done his best to remind me to cultivate a basic mistrust of people outside our inner circle, but to know that Mark Twain agreed people sucked was a powerful thing.

For some reason, as I sat through a long backlog of recorded shows after the Thanksgiving holiday, the altered quote above kept rushing back. I prefer TV comedy to any other option (sorry zombies, vampires, crime procedurals and Two and a Half Men), but want to have at least 2-3 wow/lolz moments per 30 minutes invested. This can be as simple as a wiener in a mousetrap or as elaborate as hiding $200,000 in a banana stand – just bring the funny.

As low a bar as this sounds, you’d be amazed how often TV fails to reach it. The last two episodes of Sunny left me with a few laughs, but, when combined with the other dross clinging to my DVR, just left feeling like I would spend most of my TV time borne back ceaselessly against the meh.

So, now that I’ve journaled my feelings, let’s look at two exciting episodes of Sunny…together. Two weeks ago, Charlie killed a bunch of rats and went into a depression. I enjoyed his funk because it reminded me of my friend who reminds of Charlie getting depressed, well at least until I felt bad for everyone involved. Anyway, the gang decided they should be nice people and plan him a birthday party – but not really try – and then a bunch of boring crap happened that proved they weren’t really nice, which is totally shocking six seasons in. There was a friend who lives under a bridge and smokes crack and just made me feel dirty about myself who was on screen for awhile and something about a gifted shirt that was quickly returned and replaced for a better shirt. Oh and Charlie and Dee decided to go to a spa together (more on that later.)

It wasn’t bad or anything, but it just never resonated with me. I did laugh out loud when Dee asked Charlie to go to a spa with her. His response: “What is this word ‘spa?’ I feel like you’re starting to say a word but not finishing it. Are you trying to say ‘spa-ghetti?’ Dumb Charlie will always have a special spot in my heart, which is why the end of the episode made me at least end happy.

After an episode of teasing references, we got to see Charlie’s “Dram Bok” (or dream book.) This contained everything that goes on in his head between when he sniffs glue before bed to when he wakes up again the next day with cat food breath. Charlie’s book shows us ridiculous sketches for his denim chicken, teeth bird and worm hat. Sunny has always had the market cornered on denim comedy (remember the work out episode where Dee wears jeans to work out), but the idea of denim chicken really spoke to me. I would like to put one on my desk tomorrow. If you’re a coworker reading this, there are now 19 days until Xmas (Futurama, whaddup!?) Still, the meandering of the rest of episode cannot simply be redeemed by a bunch of teeth glued to a bird or a rat stick.

The next episode was going to be even ZANIER. You see, the commercial said the gang was going to get lost in the woods! Can you imagine those crazy kooks trying to survive a night in the wilderness? How would they find food, shelter and beer (because they like to drink!!!!!)? How would they escape? It’s all so darn zany!

So yeah, my attitude wasn’t the best at this episode and the part in the woods pretty much went how you would expect – except for the bunny. Dee, Frank and Mac decide to capture and kill a bunny, but they soon become convinced it is stealing their souls and grow to love – even worship it. Dee even names him Peter Peter Nickel Eater (which I imagine I will enjoy referencing later around small animals.)

Meanwhile, Dennis and Charlie are paired up to hitchhike to safety away from the wilderness and deliver a pretty good A Plot. I’m too lazy to look back on this, but I feel like it has been way too long since we’ve seen a good Dennis and Charlie pairing. They gave us Day Man – why not keep them around each other more? Anyway, they hitch a ride with a man-loving Tom Sizemore (add cock to his many addictions) who thinks they are “lot lizards.” Their goal is to get to Atlantic City for an animal rights fundraiser Frank donated money to so he could tell off the people running it.

As an aside, sometimes the use of money on this show drives me insane. Are they poor? Do they live off Frank’s riches when needed? Does the bar have customers? Every time I see someone bad with money, I blame TV. I’m not asking for a shot of their bills the way Roseanne did, but at least give me a framework.

Anyway, Dennis and Charlie escape Tom Sizemore and make it to the casino. Dennis convinces Charlie that he needs to start saying yes to life more, and he quickly wins $15,000 in roulette, tries asparagus and delivers a speech to the audience. Then, they get to hang out with their favorite Philadelphia Phillies ballplayers – Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. I was kind of hoping they’d pair up and hit the town for a bit, but the image of them wrestling homoerotically on the floor drunk while the two professionals watch dumb-founded worked for me, too. Before the night ended, they made sure to text photos with the ballplayers back to the gang in the woods to taunt them for missing their heroes.

The episode gave Sizemore one more appearances to pick up the rest of the group in the woods before the credits rolled and then I happily moved on to watch The League and drool over another Archer promo. Maybe I’ll get a chance to review THAT show two weeks too late in the middle of winter. After this handcrafted nearly 1,200 word masterpiece, how could I be asked to stick around and help drive traffic?

Terriers, “Pimp Daddy”: Tranny fierce!

I find that taking a recovering alcoholic who’s already in sort of a dark place emotionally, then pushing him completely over the edge is usually a recipe for success. So, in the case of Hank Dalworth, I see everything comin’ up aces!

“Pimp Daddy,” like “Agua Caliente,” kept Hank and Britt separate, each doing their own thing. Britt finds himself helping a transsexual hooker look for a missing friend, while Hank is unconsciously trying to derail his ex-wife’s wedding. And it turns out Hank was right/wrong to do a little checking up on Gretchen’s new beau, as it turns out his parents raped like, a million kids, and there’s a slight possibility he had something to do with it. I can understand that Hank still has feelings for Gretchen, but I’m not completely sold on him living out some unsavory fantasy in which he wins her back. There’s something about that that seems a little too pie in the sky for a guy like Hank. I just don’t think he’d buy into it.

And besides, while it is a little much for Hank to presume that Gretchen is some wilting flower who needs him to watch out for her, I think their entire argument at the end of episode says a lot more about her than it does him. I mean, Jason was involved in some pretty messed up stuff, and Gretchen’s okay with it. Okay. She thinks he’s innocent. Fair enough. But still. If someone came out and told me something like that on our second date, I’m not so sure we’d ever make it to a third. And by third I mean third base, which I make it a point to get to on the first date. So you could see how awkward things might get. Anyway, I’m taking bets on how quickly Hank tries drowning his sorrows in a brown bottle. Before leaving Gretchen’s office, he made some douchey comment about it maybe being a good thing that they couldn’t have kids. So you know the anger’s already there. The self pity will soon follow and then after that all he’ll need is the booze. Although, if he did regress, it’d be half understandable. Wrong or not, Hank did what he did because he still loves Gretchen. And having the entire thing thrown back in his face, along with Gretch bringing the hammer down on whatever was left of their relationship has to be a tough thing to get through. How will it all play out? Stay tuned.

This episode’s case of the week seemed to come up much more naturally than it has in episodes past. And that case leading to another didn’t feel nearly as clunky as it could have, or even as similar cases have felt earlier in the season. And I have to say that there was something refreshing about everything working out for Britt. This isn’t a problem exclusive to ‘Terriers,’ but most of the time you can’t have a story like this without a gun going off and a car chase. So, Britt meeting this (wo)man, who didn’t try scamming him, finding the person they were looking for and bringing some closure to his parents was a nice change of pace. These last two episodes have really made Britt out to be the son who’s finally becoming a man, making something of himself. And we’re all so proud, aren’t we?

But not is well in Britt’s world. He found Katie throwing out a pregnancy test. And as Katie later confessed to Hank, she is pregnant, but there’s a chance Britt isn’t the father, and isn’t that just a kick in the soft stuff. Katie’s afforded a small respite from the stormy that are her woman’s emotions, as Britt proposes! That great news, and it’s about time these crazy kids finally get together. But let’s not tell Hank juuust yet. He’s having kind of a bad afternoon.

It’s Always Sunny – I’m Never Getting Too Old For This $#!@ (Lethal Weapon 5 Edition)

For me, It’s Always Sunny’s biggest flaw is that they take a fantastic concept or idea and fail to stick the landing just as often as they hit it. For every time they try out for the Philadelphia Eagles, they run off and buy a boat for no logical reason. For every time they figure out who pooped the bed, they turn around and tell us the story of American Independence in a weird flashback vehicle. That is why I tried to suspend my excitement for the viewing of Lethal Weapon 5 as much as possible. Six viewings later (not entirely because I am weirdo, I had two different friends come over who wanted to see the episode plus couldn’t sleep on Friday), I have to say that this episode ranks very high on the all-time list for me.

The episode started with janitor Charlie walking the halls of his high school and soaking up the admiration of the students. For no logical reason, everyone calls him “Professor” and he dishes out Mr. T quality advice to each of them. I am fully planning on visiting the high school my wife teaches at and yelling for some kid to “keep that GPA up, up, up” before this school year ends. This is Charlie at his best and it sets the tone for the whole episode.

Dee’s job is to help move the plot along with her classroom of drama students and she quickly finds a somewhat plausible reason to want to take the kids to the bar to see a movie. The school doesn’t have any arts funding and, shockingly, Dave Foley won’t give her money to take an overnight trip to NYC to see a Broadway show. I still expected them to use Foley more than a simple straight man, but it was just nice to see him. I even Tivoed the latest Kids in The Hall special on IFC just to thank him for being back on my TV screen.

In another long-missed show staple I like to call “the guys arguing about stupid crap in the most hilarious way possible,” Frank, Mac and Dennis are trying to figure out whether the black face they used in their Lethal Weapon 5 movie was racist. They mine this joke for all it’s worth, discussing proper voices, situations, the work of Al Jolson and everything else in-between. When Frank declared that James Earl Jones did perfect black face because he was Darth Vader and Vader was white, it was clear this episode was going all in on every joke.

Before I get to the main event, I would be remiss to not point out the Jugaloo kid that Charlie took an interest in. After finding a student in full ICP makeup in the bathroom, he first asks everyone bullying him why they painted his face, and then tells the boy that “the professor has taken an interest in [him]!” I was hoping for a nice Miracles reference to tie it all together, but I will never turn down a chance for someone funny to mock these people, no matter how easy it is.

Finally, the piece de resistance – the official screening of LW5. Here’s a trailer someone already made:

Everything about this made me happy. The terrible accents. The Tommy Wiseau sex scene (I don’t care what Howerton says, The Room played a role here). Charlie’s use of wigs to play various parts. Fake tears. Shark meat. Dee taking out the trash during the torture scene. Mac and Dennis switching parts halfway through. Mac playing Murtaugh the way Robert Downey, Jr. played a black man did in Tropic Thunder.

Basically, if you didn’t like this, I don’t want to know you.

I promise I won’t always cheerlead this show (and I still want to be on record as saying that “The League” has had a better season and “Archer” will too), but in a world where Outsourced and Big Bang Theory count as edgy and hilarious social commentaries about foreigners and NERDZ, I don’t want to ever sell what really makes me laugh short. In short, go suck an egg.

Good Times:

  • Charlie: I’ll tell you what. I’ll take him down to the locker room. I’ll lather him up real good. I’ll strip all these silly clothes off him. I’m gonna clean him. Sparkling clean. Brand new kid for you.
    Principal: No, please don’t bathe the students.
    Charlie: You’re right. He’s a big man. You can bathe yourself, can’t you, Rich?
    Richie: Yeah, dawg.
    Charlie: He’s bathing himself and I’m watching.
  • Mac: They’re actors. They’re trying to create an illusion. In the Lord of the Rings movie, Ian McKellen plays a wizard. You think he goes home at night and shoots laser beams into his boyfriend’s asshole?
  • Frank: Look at that! James Earl Jones is doing a great black-face.
    Dennis: James Earl Jones has a black-face, he is a black man!

Terriers, “Agua Caliente”: Cartel grab.

“Agua Caliente” provided a nice little follow-up to “Change Partners,” showing us what happened to Britt’s old partner, Ray, whom we assumed had been picked up by the cops at the end of that episode. Turns out that would have been too neat and tidy. And in TV Land, neat and tidy is no good. You know what else is no good? ‘Neat & Tidy.’ A CBS buddy cop show which ran from 1983 to 1983. But maybe I’m getting off topic…

So what did happen? It’s the question fans have been asking, and all revealed after some of Ray’s drug cartel friends take Brit and throw him in the trunk of a car. Before the cops could pick him up, Ray skipped town and fell in with some shady characters south of the border. I know, I’m not really narrowing things down, am I? I keed, I keed. But seriously, if you live in Mexico, you probably work for a drug cartel. Anyway, while out on a “run,” (drug slang for a drug deal) Ray’s pulled over by the cops and books it, leaving the precious drugs behind to be taken in and bagged as evidence by what’s apparently the only incorruptible police station in the entire country. How much did Ray lose, you ask? Well, if you guessed a lot, you’d be wrong. Ray lost what had to have been three or four small packages of cocaine. It really didn’t look like very much, but one of the cartel bigwigs tells Britt that its street value was about $80,000, so who am I to argue? Anyway, Britt’s got to help Ray get it back or else they’ll kill Katie, who they’re following back in Ocean Beach.

The point of the episode seemed to be to provide some closure to the Katie’s-cheating-ways storyline. After spending weeks skipping class and dodging her professor, Katie’s forced back in the classroom to take her final. In her rush to get out of there, she leaves behind her cellphone, which is just the excuse her professor needs to drop by. But of course, when he does, he’s taken hostage by the Mexican thug staking Katie out, which is a problem most of us have probably had to deal with before. Luckily, Hank, Britt and Gustafson get there just in time to save them. Hank gets shot in the arm, but all in all it’s a small price to pay.

At the end of the episode, Hank, laid out on an ambulance gurney, has some stern words for Katie’s professor. Hank says that if he ever catches wind of him sleeping with another one of his students, Hank will make sure his wife finds out, along with every veterinary school from here to blah blah blah. Now, why would Hank make such a nasty threat? To protect Katie, and by extension, her relationship with Britt, right? It’s one of those situations in which the answer is so obvious that we fail to question the logic behind it. Katie’s a big girl, and it’s not like she fell on her professor’s penis on accident. If anyone needs a talking to, maybe it’s her. It’s just possible that she’s hurting her relationship with Britt even more than her professor. A crazy theory, I know. But there you go.

What I liked most about the episode was how much we got to see Gustafson, a character who could probably hold his own show, and just might get the chance now that Terriers’ chances of coming back for another season are almost nonexistent. His dynamic with Hank is very different from Britt’s, but that may be what I liked about it. Hank treats Britt too much like his little buddy, but it’s clear that he and Gustafson are on equal footing. Well, almost equal. Gustafson probably considers himself to be a little above Hank’s station in life. See? We’ve got conflict. That’s 13 on the air right there. Anyway, it felt like the show actually got a little better with Hank and Britt split up. Odd. Especially, for a show whose chemistry between its two leads is one of its biggest selling points.

It’s Always Sunny, “The Gang Gets a New Member”: More Fun than Butt Dance 2.0!

This week’s episode was big for me because it confirmed a long held theory of mine: Jason Sudeikis is extremely talented and being held back by his stint on Saturday Night Live playing the straight man to a variety of Keenan Thompson and Kristin Wiig characters. Since he had a chance to work with Charlie Day in “Going the Distance” last year and show off some good comedic, scene-stealing (and yes, stealing a scene from Justin Long is a relative feat) ability, the two of them decided to work together on this episode. Tonight, Sudeikis had a chance to play Schmitty, the long-lost fourth member of the gang. On paper, this looked like a terrible set-up that left me with questions: why would the group have lose a member? Is it that hard for townies to lose touch? Did Schmitty keep in touch with the Ponderosas?

Rather than create an elaborate back story, it was simple. It was a four member crew ten years ago, but Charlie was jealous of him and convinced the group to push him out… of a moving car. The reunion works because Schmitty seems to be a smarter version of Charlie. Then, they slowly unravel him and show he’s not fit for the group: he lives at home because his Mom has MS, he questions all of the weird games Charlie played when they lived together — including “Night Crawlers” — and he even reworks Charlie’s butt dance. It’s early, but election returns are showing Butt Dance 2.0 may become a staple in my household.

I complained a few episodes ago that the action has not been taking place in the bar. Well, last week (BTW sorry about not reviewing what I thought was a great episode on Dee’s pregnancy) reintroduced hanging out at the bar as the center of the show. The show works best when Paddy’s is part of the action and not just a call back to sell t-shirts on FX.com. Hopefully we’ve moved past the constant zany setups and back to a world where the gang sticks together.

Dee has a side plot that you’re not going to believe. I won’t spoil it for you, but she realizes that she missed her dream of being an actress, finds an avenue to try to reclaim that glory and ultimately fails miserably. This brings her to helping her old drama teacher with his current class, but the big giveaway is she convinces Charlie to become a high school janitor to help cope with Schmitty replacing him. You’ll see the quotes below, but this one of the best scenes this season. Charley explains that he’s not a proud man, but he’s willing to degrade himself. Also, the principal is Dave Foley. If there is not a bigger use of him next week, I will be one sad panda.

Meanwhile, in Interesting Land, Schmitty starts to react to how weird the gang is the way that any normal person wood. He questions his sterling silver clover ring but really stops down once he learn that Dennis orders food for the entire group because he “has the most refined palate.” Like a modern day R.P. McMurphy, Schmitty leads Mac and Frank to also question their superiors and even go as far as to order ginger ale. It’s simple, it’s stupid and it’s funny.

Things finally fall apart when Schmitty shows up to his 3 p.m. initiation late and not wearing his ring. Under the guise of a promise of a hot air balloon ride, they gang again tries to once again throw him out of a moving car, but Frank is not able to push him out, so he just politely says goodbye once they pull over. The group then goes to the school to ask Charlie to rejoin the group, but he declines to stay a janitor and also setup a promising second act next week. Word on the street is we finally get to watch some more of “Lethal Weapon 5,” which is more than enough for me. What can I say, I’m easy.

QUOTES! (lots of good ones this week):

  • Dee: Rise and shine, dickwad.
  • Charlie: Hey, you’re stilling living with your mom? That sounds kind of lame.
    Schmitty: Well, it’s the M.S. that’s really lame, you know.
    Dennis: Oh, your mom has Multiple sclerosis?
    Schmitty: Yeah she’s doing alright. I moved in with her to take care of her; really get to know her before she moves on.
    Charlie: That story is kind of a downer.
  • Principal: I’m a little confused, are you telling me this photo of Bruce Jenner is your resume?
    Charlie: Well, when I showed up this morning I didn’t have a formal resume on me so I was sort of hoping the photograph of Mr. Jenner could represent the standard of excellence I’m hoping to bring to his position.
    Principal: And you’re looking for a job as a substitute teacher?
    Charlie: Substitute janitor.
  • Charlie: I’m serious I will eat that eraser whole.
    Principal: You don’t need to eat the eraser to prove your point, you have the job.
    Charlie: Are you serious?
    Principal: I love your attitude.
    Charlie: Sir, I’m not gonna let you down. I’m gonna start cleaning immediately. But, first, can I eat the eraser?
  • Mac: What’s weird about this? This is a men’s ceremony. They have ceremonies for all sorts of men’s club. Ya know, the mafia, the Free Masons, The White House…