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DVD Review: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – The Complete Season 5

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Never having been to Philadelphia myself, what little I know about the city I’ve learned from watching TV and movies:  #1) it’s where the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was born and raised; #2) Rocky ran up some steps there; #3) Philadelphia houses not only Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, but also a little bar called Paddy’s Pub, run by some of the dumbest, most self-centered jerks on the planet.  Oh and #4) it’s always sunny.

The fifth season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is now available on DVD and serves up some of the series’ best and funniest episodes yet.  Danny DeVito’s character, Frank, no longer feels like an odd inclusion; he’s now firmly embedded as one of the gang.  The stories don’t focus as much on shock-value topics as in earlier seasons, but just let the characters be themselves and allow the viewers follow them into whatever mischief they find.

Only the unremarkable episodes “The Gang Wrestles For the Troops” and “Mac and Dennis Break Up” drag down what is an otherwise stellar comedic season.  “The Gang Hits the Road,” in which the crew sets off for a road trip to the Grand Canyon and yet never manage to leave Philly, is not only perhaps the funniest episode of the entire series, but one of the funniest sitcom episodes ever.  A close second is “The World Series Defense” in which the gang tries to get out of multiple parking violations by regailing the judge with a long, complicated tale of woe that invloves Charlie battling the Philly Phanatic and Mac writing an hilarious letter to Chase Utley.  Other outstanding episodes include ones where Mac and Charlie attempt to write a movie for M. Night Shyamalan, the gang creates some Paddy’s Pub merchandise (including the “Shot Gun,” “Gun Shot,” “Kitten Mittens” and “Egg”) and Dennis declares himself a legend when it comes time for the “Flipadelphia” Flip-Cup tournament.

With all the stellar content of the episodes on this three disc set, it makes the bonus DVD content look all the worse by comparison.  There’s very little meat to be found therein, from commentary tracks in which the cast just point out what action is occurring on screen, to an unamusing blooper reel.  There’s also deleted scenes and a featurette entitled “Phinding Love in Philly,” depicting various characters on the show creating dating service videos.  Some of the stranger inclusions are the full pilot episode of the animated series Archer and something called “Kitten Mittens Endless Loop” which features video of a variety of cats stumbling around in mittens and which does indeed keep looping.  I can only imagine the latter being enjoyed by a viewer who is highly under the influence of some substance (although I think the same could be said about the Archer pilot) or perhaps some It’s Always Sunny fan’s grandmother.

If you’ve never seen an episode of It’s Always Sunny before, season five isn’t a bad place to start.  The show seems to be really hitting its stride this season and keeps getting better.  The main characters are some of the dumbest, most despicable people imaginable, and they are an utter joy to watch.

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