In the infamous 1998 series finale of Seinfeld
the four main characters are arrested for breaking the ‘Good Samaritan law and the reason this failed with the viewing audience is because it felt false. Partly because it broke from its self-proclamation of being a show “about nothing”- which it was really about observing the comedy within the seemingly mundane events and non-events we all identify with
- to go with the kind of plot scenario you’d expect from an episode of ‘I Love Lucy’
. The bigger reason it failed is because it forced the characters into being something they weren’t. Over the nine years of watching Seinfeld we all came to know that Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer could sometimes be self-centered, inconsiderate, conniving and lacking compassion for their fellow man at times but not so much that we couldn’t see some of ourselves in them. Not to the point of thinking of them as being sociopaths
Skip ahead to 2005 where we have “the Gang” (as they refer to themselves) from ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’,
who’re often compared as the ‘the new Seinfeld’ who’re described as:
“…a group of five alcoholic, unethical underachievers who run Paddy's Pub, a run-down bar in Philadelphia. They are dishonest, selfish, egotistical, and antagonistic, and are often embroiled in controversial issues. Episodes usually find them hatching elaborate schemes, conspiring against one another or others for personal gain or the pleasure of watching their downfall. Their tactics often rely on inflicting emotional and sometimes physical pain on individuals both deserving and undeserving. They regularly use sex to blackmail and manipulate one another and others outside of the group. Their unity is never solid; any of them would quickly dump the others for quick profit or personal gain regardless of the consequences. Almost everything they do results in competition between them.”
So if you’ve never watched the show (and if you haven’t I’ll stop so you can go do that now
), just think of watching Seinfeld where it takes place in a location that makes Detroit look good and the characters are all straight-up reprobates.
Christmas is upon us and the Paddy's gang has got the spirit. Well, not really. For them, the holidays have always been a time of trickery, backstabbing, and disappointment. But this year things are going to be different as they are determined to rediscover the joy in Christmas.
…Not really but I got a great deal of joy out of this direct-to- DVD/ Blu-ray they’ve put together. It plays out just like most of the series with the characters dividing two plotlines but all coming together at the end. On one plotline there’s Dennis
and Kaitlin Olson
) who hate Christmas because their whole lives their dad, Frank
) would use their Christmas wishlists to buy gifts for himself and rub their noses in it. This year when he continues the trend with a high-powered sportscar and a designer handbag Dennis and Dee decide to get even. They concoct a plan to use his old business partner, whom Frank cheated and thinks is dead, as a Jacob Marley stand-in to scare Frank into being a better person, ala ‘A Christmas Carol’.
and Charlie Day
) reminisce about their “special” childhood Christmases only to learn that their Christmases through the eyes of anyone else’s non-rose-colored glasses are way too #$%&ed up for them to deal with. The trek they embark on to reconcile the past takes them on some twist and turns that…
, comedy is all about the element of surprise so maybe it’s better I don’t say anymore. I will say that ‘A Very Sunny Christmas’
plays out like one of the best episodes of the entire series. So you might be wondering why you should buy this DVD when if you wait you’ll be able to catch it for free on cable?
If you’ve been watching the spectacular programming on the F/X channel
(The Shield, Rescue Me, Sons of Anarchy
) you already know that this network is a formidable rival for HBO
. Their after 9pm (central time) series push the envelope of how much nudity can be shown on a non-pay cable channel and the characters regularly throw out every expletive short of “fuck” and “cocksucker”. But I can tell that F/X may never, EVER
broadcast ‘A Very Sunny Christmas
’ because at the points of its funniest it pushes the envelope way too far. It doesn’t just cross the line; it drops its pants and does buttscoots back and forth until the line is nothing more than a faded smear.
‘A Very Sunny Christmas
’ is packed with the kind of wicked humor perfect for offsetting the cloying Christmas music and movies we’re bombarded with the last three months of every year. Speaking as someone who often hates the Christmas season, it is SO nice to have a DVD other than ‘The Bad Santa’
to get me through this difficult time.
• Producer’s Blu-ray Introduction
–Producer and supporting cast member David Hornsby (‘Rickety Cricket’) tries to talk around Rob McElhenney explaining how the show was not shot in true Blu-ray.
• Young Charlie and Young Mac Deleted Scenes
– I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched terrible kid actors screw up scenes like these, playing younger versions of familiar characters. But these kids are not only good but physically look like pre-teen versions of Mac and Charlie.
• Behind The Scenes Making Of
- A very short doc, featuring the snippets of the director, the Wonder Years’ Fred Savage!
• A Sunny Sing-Along
- Some weird cutaways and video effects with a Christmas song dubbed over. Skip this.
...But DO NOT
skip ‘A Very Sunny Christmas’
! You can purchase it here