"Serial killin'!" That's why Mac comes home in the same clothes he was wearing the night before, with scratches on his neck -- at least according to Frank, who's been reading about the killer in the paper. Of course, the problem is much simpler: Mac's been dating a gal with a penis, a fact he feels he must hide from the gang.
After the dizzy heights of Day Man (ahhhhh!) last week, this merely solid episode is a nice reminder of the show's week-to-week strengths. It's been kicking around the web since the summer, released by FX as a special pre-season web preview. Charlie gets a chance to shine in nearly all Charlie modes: Dim Bulb (thinks retelling an episode of Law And Order is "a good story"), Mynah Bird (takes on the mannerisms of a defense lawyer, including random objections), and Crazy Person (screaming at Mac in some misbegotten fake-bad-cop plan to get him to reveal his alternate, serial killing personality). As he enacts his rather vague impressions of what a lawyer does, he takes to carrying around a portable cassette tape recorder and microphone and interspersing every conversation with "Strike that" and "Irrelevant" -- to most hilarious effect during a phone conversation between Mac and Dee. "I'll allow it," he whispers into the mike after everything either party says.
Dee and Dennis, meanwhile, don't believe that Mac is the killer, but they're determined to use profiling to catch the real culprit -- first by dangling Dee as hooker bait, then by putting themselves in the killer's shoes and planning a murder of their own. The prostitution sting goes wrong when Dee is approached by a pimp who wants to make her "Pepper Jack's top ho." "Pepper Jack, are you serious?" Dennis exclaims. To extract themselves, Dennis has to sacrifice his lunchbox-sized thermos -- because "Pepper Jack loves Fraggle Rock." Never underestimate the humorous potential of (a) referring to yourself in the third person and (b) repeating a pimp name over and over.
The gang doesn't leave themselves many crime shows to parody next time; in addition to Law And Order and Profiler, they hit To Catch A Predator in the shows climax, as Dennis and Dee lure Mac to a fake assignation only to confront him with a turtleneck and a clipboard. And Frank with the chainsaw that he plans to use to torture the guilty Mac. And a refrigerator containing severed heads, a pint of Ben & Jerry's, and a baking soda box (for freshness).
Just about everything about this episode delivers the goods, from the pre-title banter about whether Dee is the serial killer's type (too big, according to Charlie and Dennis -- "the killer would hack and hack and hack and be like, how many people did I klll?") to Mac's blurted-out explanation of why he's acting so strange if he's not a murderer ("I've been banging a trannie and I didn't want you guys to find out"). While it might not have the sheer crackpot genius of "Dennis And Dee Go On Welfare" or the unmoored looniness of "Charlie Goes American All Over Everybody's Ass," this is one of the best balanced episodes of the new season.
- What I like about Charlie's quasi-Sam Waterson impersonation is that he clearly doesn't understand Law And Order, or lawyering in general; for some reason he leaps to Mac's defense and spends the bulk of the show trying to get him off the hook.
- The production veers over into parody when Dennis and Dee, in their serial killer personas of painter and psycho clown, follow The Waitress down the street, only to vanish when she turns around to look. But Dee's squeaky clown shoes soon resume their squeaky pursuit. Probably John Wayne Gacy skipped the clown shoes, come to think of it.
- How does sex with a preoperative transsexual work, according to Mac? "She tapes it back."