So if last week could be lazily tied into Frasier, let's be even lazier and tie this week's Sunny to The Golden Girls, as each character's strange parental relationships were in the foreground for "Mac's Mom Burns Her House Down" and Mac and Charlie even sung a full-length version of "Thank You For Being a Friend." Frank's subplot of "parenting" Dee (by poisoning her and tying her to the bed) wasn't over-the-top enough to really stand out, and the gag of the old, unkillable dog has been done many times before (hell, Sunny did it once with the Jack Bauer cat) but this was an extremely solid outing.
Mac and Charlie's moms are both fun to cart out on occasion, and they were very-well used this time around: much better than previous appearances where the plot revolved around them, actually. In particular, Charlie's mom being a big ol' slut had gotten to be very dull territory, so I'm glad that wasn't covered this time. With Mac's mom, the humor was basically the same: she's a terrifying, androgynous, withered old crone and Mac is adorably nice to her. My favorite recurring bit was his measured interpretation of her identical groans.
Charlie's mom, when she was first introduced, was relatively normal and with each further appearance she's just been warped into something crazier and crazier. Each of her peculiarities was funny on its own and funnier when Charlie exasperatedly repeated them. She wants him to vacuum the ceiling…again. She's afraid of "paint splinters." And apparently she has some sort of crippling OCD that Charlie and Mac both started relying on by the end of the episode ("I feel more in control!" Mac proclaims after stuttering "one, two, three" while walking on the sidewalk).
The entire cast was used pretty well even if they acted passively and nothing too exciting really happened: it felt like one of the show's older episodes, without any wilder subplots or a bunch of locations, just ideas bouncing off the characters and getting progressively crazier. Dennis, who being a sociopath has no interest in any familial connections, was used well as a "fixer" for both plotlines, getting Mac and Charlie's moms together and encouraging Frank to be a more obviously nice dad to Dee by kidnapping and drugging her. Of course, all that mattered to Dennis was that he was getting both of these problems out of his hair. And also, Mac's mom is having none of his diplomatic approach. "Stop talking to me like I'm an asshole!"
Mac and Charlie's mom refuse to make eye contact at first but eventually they're getting along famously, with Mac's mom fixing the ceiling fan and Charlie's mom tutting about the Muslims. "I wish they'd all go back to the desert." "It's not really a Golden Girls conversation, it's more of a racist conversation," Charlie notes, but in the world of Sunny, that'll do. I like that while Mac's mom is the more outwardly bad housemate (she burned her last place down when she fell asleep smoking and she's legitimately terrifying when Charlie's mom wakes her up), there's something far stranger and creepier about Charlie's mom, even though she's normal-looking and has a nice house. They're perfect for each other!
The Dee/Frank subplot was a little less put-together but it was nice to see the show acknowledge the horrendous relationship Frank has with his kids and Dee's cough-syrup fueled sleepwalking was decent physical comedy (although Kaitlin Olson can do so much more). Poppins the dog was adorable, maybe too adorable for such a supposedly filthy dog, but I enjoyed his resurrection and Mac's trick of popping his eye back in with a knuckle ("Yeah, I'm never going to do that," says Dennis). I was glad he didn't meet his end after Frank and Dennis, probably the most heartless pair the show can concoct, buried him just by tossing him in the garbage. "What are you going to do, send him to the moon?"
The extended Charles Grodin/James Groban misunderstanding in the cold open was hysterical. "Call Charles Grodin a bitter old man one more time and see what happens!"
"Are there spiders here, are there spiders there?"
Mac has peculiar ideas about taking his mom to a nursing home. "Why don't I just rape her myself!" He's turned Frank onto the stereotype too: "As soon as you drop your soap, they rape your butt!"
"Mrs. Mac has a unique and earthy fragrance." "I smell like shit!"
Josh Groban, who happily did not make a guest appearance, likes his ladies to pop. I was sad not to see Artemis at all aside from a voicemail.
"Why are you doing everything in threes?" "Oh, so Charlie doesn't die."
Fox had no pictures from this week's episode, so you'll have to make do with this lame shot from the season opener.