Tag Archives: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2013 Edition: 36-33

6 Jan

We start off our next chunk of four with a couple of dramas, followed by a couple of comedies part of a very close group that moves into the next four.

36. Black Mirror

Holding on to Black Mirror

Black Mirror is a British science fiction anthology series, similar thematically to The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits with hour long episodes focusing on the challenges of modern technology. Because it’s British there are just three episodes a season, and two seasons, the second which aired last year. Occasionally the episodes can be a little bit on the nose in terms of the danger technology poses, but there’s generally at least enough of a twist or unexpected plot directions to ensure the episodes remain interesting and fulfilling. Particularly, in the second episode of the most recent season, the episode appears to be going in a predictable and overdone direction between a reveal dramatically changes the point of view.

35. The Walking Dead

Rick and Friend

I consider myself, and I’m still surprised by this, a relative supporter of The Walking Dead at this point in the show’s life span. It’s been an incredibly rocky road, up and down, with some peaks, and some deep valleys. The second season was a slow, poorly-paced affair, punctuated by a couple of high spots but the show has improved, if in a three steps forward, two steps back fashion, since then. The season half of the third season had more good episodes than bad, as did the first half of the fourth season, with the biggest downside in both being the writers decisions to overplay their use of the Governor, a good villain with limitations the show didn’t choose to see. The show still has issues. It can be on the nose, and many of the characters aren’t as richly constructed as they should be, a problem a show that cycles through hcaracters as quickly as The Walking Dead does is bound to have. Still, I’m still watching which I wasn’t sure I would be at times in the second season.

34. Wilfred

Wilfred and Ryan

Elijah Wood stars in this relatively under-the-radar FX show based on an Australian show of the same name about a man who sees his neighbor’s talk as a man in a dog suit who talks. There’s a lot of different ways to go with that premise, but Wilfred mostly sticks to the lighter side, going for humorously absurdist rather than dark. One or two episodes a year attempt to examine the darker implications of the fact that Wood sees a dog as a human, and those episodes have a very mixed record. The third season was largely on the same level as the first. The episodes can get somewhat repetitive and there’s a formula, in which the dog is kind of a manic pixie dream dog who screws up Wood’s life but often ends up advising him for the better. Still, it works decently well, and the occasional super out there episodes hit at a higher percentage than the others.

33. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

The Gang

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia just reached 100 episodes last fall in its ninth season, an amount of seasons still hard for me to fathom. The show has long since become a hit and then faded somewhat into the background between newer, hotter shows, but it’s still churning out its brand of comedy, setting all its characters against one another for some stupid non-consequential reason, or against innocent Philadelphians. It’s a concept that could easily run out of ideas, and it’s impressive that the writers have done as good as job as they have, although it does occasionally feel like it’s retreating the same ground. It was a very hit or miss season with the best episode possibly being “Mac Day” where Mac got to control everything the gang did for the day.

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Ranking the Shows I Watch – 2012 edition: 21-19

11 Feb

The 2012 ranking of the shows I watched (well, 2013 ranking of the shows I watched in 2012) is on – check out the intro here for the rules, 21, 20, and 19 below.

21.  Wilfred

Which one is Wilfred?

With two main characters who are a man and a man in a dog suit, this is a show whose set up could easily get tired. A couple of times it seemed like it was about to, before the writers pulled a trick or an episode out of their bag that again reveals there’s plenty more material to work through.  The premise relies on a little bit of possible mental instability, or possible magic realism, as Elijah Wood’s main character Ryan sees  his attractive neighbor’s dog, Wilfred, as a living and talking human.  Is Ryan crazy, or hallucinating, or is that just how it goes?  Wilfred the show occasionally tries to explore the origin of Wilfred the character, something I”m less interested in; I’m generally content to not care why Ryan sees Wilfred as a human in a dog suit, and just go along for the ride.  That said, some of the best episodes tend to be the strangest which actually delve into the Wilfred situation, without actually providing so far any real answers, which I’m thankful about.  After a couple of episodes at the beginning of the series which didn’t thrill me, I caught on to one which featured the idea that Wilfred potentially had the power to kill suffering elderly patients at a nursing home.  It was weird, and in this case, weird meant good.  The show can get a bit repetitive at its worst, with Ryan slavishly following Wilfred’s terrible advice after objecting time after time, and it’s insistence on opening with a quote which attempts to focus the episode is misguided, but the show has smartly evolved and changed up the procedure and the outcomes.  I like it more than I thought I would from the beginning, and while it could use work, it always seems like right after a lackluster episode, the show delivers a winner.

20.  It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

 

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has been going on from a damn long time now, and while maybe it’s still a cult show in some sense, the cult has gotten a whole lot bigger over the years, with green men showing up at sporting events as the best outside manifestation of Sunny’s popularity.  Every year I think the show has run out of material, and while every new season is hardly constructed of 10 consecutive all time classics, by now I’m come to expect a few absolutely excellent episodes and the rest to be at least pretty decent, with a fair amount of laugh lines.  I largely thought they would run out of material because many early episodes seemed to rely on the gang’s zany take on contemporary issues – how would the gang deal with abortion, or homosexuality, or any number of different drugs.  The show smartly now relies less on specific issues than on finding fun ways to butt the characters’ personalities against one another.  The best episodes of the show, like one of the best last season, in which the gang in separate groups visits a nice Italian restaurant, rely on exploiting the different characteristics of each member of the gang which have been built up over so many seasons, and playing them against one another.  The super high concept episodes aren’t my favorite – the flashback episode, or the revolutionary war one, but I can appreciate that they’re trying.  Either way, after slightly souring on the show after the third or fourth season, the show has nicely plateaued into reliable laughs, and I’m pretty pleased about that.

19.  NTSF: SD: SUV

NTSF

It’s important to note as I go further, and I should have already, and will again, that the rankings are more useful in tiers, than they are in regard to exact placement.  For example, I’m pretty confident in picking my #10 show above my #22 show, but the distinction between #19 and #20 is pretty useless.  NTSF is the first of three eleven minute live action Adult Swim shows to appear on this list, and was the last one I got into.  I watched the first episode long before I watched any others, and it didn’t thrill me; I didn’t expect to keep watching.  However, as the show featured a number of actors I like (Paul Scheer, Martin Starr, and Party Down and New Girl veteran June Dianne Raphael), and appeared right after personal favorite Childrens Hospital, I decided, wisely, it turns out, to give it another chance.  NTSF: SD: SUV is a perfect fit with Childrens Hospital and with Adult Swim in terms of sheer absurdism of the type not often seen in live action television.  Nothing, wonderfully, has to make sense.  Each episode has a plot featuring the members of NSTF: SD: SUV trying to prevent some sort of scheme to destroy their beloved San Diego, but beyond that, everything’s fair game.  My likely favorite episode of the most recent second season featured time travel, as the agents, guided by the Time Angels, take a time slide back and forth to prevent a nuclear explosion and capture evil time slide-creator Leonardo Da Vinci.  It is ludicrous, filled with nonsensical time paradoxes, and wonderful.  When I first watched, I viewed NTSF as a poor man’s Childrens Hospital, and while I still regard Childrens higher, I now believe NTSF can be in its class.

Rankings the Show I Watch – 15: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

11 Oct

It’s frankly amazing how long this show has been on the air, and just how big it’s become.  The scientific factor I use to determine its popularity is number of green men, the green lyrca full body suit mascot that Charlie wears during a couple of episodes.  I see at Philadelphia and national sporting events, and on Halloween.  The actual suit only appeared in three episodes of the series, and yet it spawned a phenomenon as green men are everywhere.

The show has the potential to get tiresome. In each episode, the “gang” – as the characters are known find a topic, be it racism, terrorism, abortion, or sometimes less political and more random, and go off, offending tons of people in the process and coming out making fools of themselves.  Yet it stays relatively fresh, and the writers have done a pretty good job of thinking of material that is new enough to keep me laughing.  I really tried to hold off this comparison for as long as could, even though I wanted to use it all article, but Curb Your Enthusiasm really is by far the most similar show on TV to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  They’re both basically shows that apply a similar process to a new set of facts every episode. You can enter a situation into the It’s Always Sunny machine, and it’s pretty easy to figure out how things are going to go, but it still generally ends up being pretty funny.  Like in Curb, it’s all about the main characters, and everyone else is the world is just someone for them to play off of. While in Curb about equal times the other characters are crazy or normal, in It’s Always Sunny, they’re generally normal conservative folks who are utterly outraged by the gang’s lewd, selfish and inappropriate behavior.

Highlights of the last season include Dennis implying that Mac and he will bring some women onto a boat, and since they can’t get off, there will be an “implication,” which is disturbing even for Mac.  Another highlight is the gang’s drunken memories in flashback form of a Halloween party in which Dee may have gotten pregnant, and in which Dee is remembered as more and more birdlike, eventually ending up as an ostrich.

Looking over the episode list, there aren’t quite as many stone cold classics as there have been in previous seasons, though to be fair, my opinions could change, for good or ill, with a second viewing.

Why It’s This High:  No show generates more out loud laughs than It’s Always Sunny, even after six years; Charlie makes me laugh.

Why it’s not higher:  It’s a little bit hit and miss, a little bit repetitive, some episodes are better than others, some of the best ideas were used seasons ago

Best Episode of the Most Recent Season:  “Mac’s Big Break” – My friends and I became somewhat obsessed with this strange part of the episode in which Dennis uses a strange voice on his radio show asking about the US’s involvement in two wars – I can’t find anything on youtube, so you’ll just have to watch the full episode.