Last week I said Sunny's opener was the same good stuff as ever, bemoaning the lack of a wacky conclusion in the two-part episode as the only major flaw, because it made the episode's ending feel kinda flat. Well, it turns out the second half was just as flat, which reflects pretty badly on the whole season opener in retrospect. Most hour-long episodes of half-hour sitcoms have the same flaws: they're just that much more draggy even as they try to juggle more plots than usual. So I wouldn't worry about the quality of Sunny season six, which I'm sure is going to be just fine. But "Dennis Gets Divorced" just didn't do it for me.
After an episode that was mostly setup (Dennis gets married, Frank and Charlie get a domestic partnership, Dee starts sleeping with a married dude, Mac gets evicted), part two throws even more characters into the mix, including a couple of returning faves: the villainous Lawyer and Charlie's creepy Uncle Jack, long considered by fans to be the real "Nightman" who molested Charlie as a kid. It's always funny to see Sunny's recurring cast of weirdoes but they didn't get a lot to do here (except for Jack's recurring obsession with his tiny hands) and it felt like they were tossed in to distract us from the relatively boring resolution of all the plots.
Each strand had some nice little moments, though. It was funny to see the guys skewer the usually high-and-mighty Dee for bragging about sleeping with Bill and getting a BMW for her trouble. And I loved those Sunny touches of contempt from the other characters: "My God, Dee, clearly you have something to say, so let's just get it over with!" they scream, and then later as she monologues to Dennis on the phone he just hangs up mid-conversation. But Bill's lazy and yucky antics (he wears an ill-fitting robe! He has a Snooki-esque mistress!) weren't nearly outrageous enough. Kaitlin Olson was great at deflecting all of Bill's bad news about his wife leaving him ("Yikes! Shit's getting pretty real for you, huh?") but it was all a little too lame otherwise.
Dennis got to break up with Maureen in a more spectacular fashion through a drunken monologue that Glenn Howerton just knocked out of the park. I won't reprint it in full here, but my favorite moments were him randomly screaming "DIVORCE!" and his profession that "I'm totally drunk, but my mind is sober." He's quickly realized that he's married a dead-tooth, but after that things progress at a similarly boring pace: Uncle Jack is called in because the Lawyer has a restraining order against them; Lawyer is then revealed to be representing Maureen, and he totally screws the guys (but Dennis and Mac get to live together again!). Much like Dee's plot, what saved the episode for me were the little things, like Dennis' nonchalance about the whole situation or Maureen bashing herself repeatedly a la Mark Wahlberg in Fear.
Probably the most disappointing plot of all was Charlie and Frank's nuptials, which I feel could have been the focus of a really awesome single episode but got lost in the chatter here. A lot of the gags were pretty rote, too; Frank controls the purse-strings, Charlie complains about all the work he does at home -- it's like they're an old bickering couple! Considering that's a gag the show's been doing for years, just having them be married didn't really make it more original. Charlie's unease around Uncle Jack is golden uncomfortable comedy ("Why'd we have to do all the touching and the hand-holding?" "It was fun!") and lines like "Nobody washes the dishes, we eat the food directly off the coffee table and you know it!" saved the whole thing from being utter formula, but it was still disappointing to see the opportunity wasted.
Oh well. Nothing to worry about, it's just one so-so hour-long episode, but it's too bad this was the season opener.
My favorite exchange was about Charlie's drawings of elephants for Frank, which even Frank grudgingly admits are pretty good. "I've seen them and I like them too," Jack interjects.
Charlie was foolish enough to sign a pre-nup with Frank, else he'd be rich as a prince now. "You told me it was a phone bill, man, of course I signed it!" Classic Charlie: not only was he fooled, he was fooled by something illogical like "signing a phone bill."
"All this talk about marriage and Dee being such a whore has got me thinking."
At Dennis' bachelor party, who's motorcycle move was better, Charlie or Mac? I pick Charlie, but Mac's outrage at him doing it wrong was the real star.
"Let's not fight, it's a classy party."
Mac's room has been taken over by Maureen. "She turned it into her crafts studio, where she makes sweatshirts out of cats…"