Season: 5 out of 5 Stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 Stars
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia continues to be one of my favorite comedies on TV and revisiting its eighth season just as the ninth has begun this month (on new network, FXX) only reinforces this.
When we left Dee, Charlie, Mac, Frank and Dennis in the finale of season seven, they’d been very publicly rejected by all of their peers at a disastrous high school reunion. Consequently, either by accident or design I feel like many highlights of season eight saw the Paddy’s Pub crew in isolation facing their own twisted internal conflicts and the episodes were stronger for it. Putting each character separately under a microscope in my personal favorite, “The Gang Gets Analyzed,” for example was a genius way of checking in on where they all stand. From Dennis’s sociopathetic drive to control those around him (he gets worse every year and Howerton is amazing to watch as he just barely keeps Dennis’s mania in check) to Mac’s “reverse body dysmorphia”, the psychiatrist only has to scratch the surface to expose all of these characters’ neuroses. The finale as well sees the gang holding their own trial in “Reynolds Vs Reynolds: The Cereal Defense” which began over a simple rear-ender and yet somehow spirals into theological debate complete with charts. Escalation is something Always Sunny does best.
By far however, season eight will most likely be remembered for standout episode “The Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre” which has Dennis’s disgusting ex-wife from season six marrying into the even-more-disgusting McPoyle clan. Told in flashback from an interrogation room, it’s the only episode lacking the traditional Sunny credit sequence and goes into full on zombie horror mode. It also features a hysterical cameo by Guillermo Del Toro (apparently he asked for a part while directing Day on Pacific Rim) as a cannibalistic McPoyle. As if that family could get any worse.
The extras include commentaries on four episodes that are not particularly enlightening, though fun for die-hard fans. The cast here also gets a chance to vent a bit about twitterverse complaints, particularly in regard to the episode aptly titled “The Gang Recycles Their Trash.” The answer’s in the name, folks. Personally, I had fun with that cleverly constructed episode, catching some references only upon repeat viewing. There’s also a blooper reel, a fully produced cheesy sitcom featuring Mac and Charlie’s mothers inhabiting a Golden-Girls-like sitcom universe and a brief moment of “In Memoriam” to Fat Mac to acknowledge actor/creator Rob McElhenney’s sixty pound transformation between seasons.