Donna's jet-setting again–this week: Chicago!–so I'm back with you to talk Sunny. And I'll give it to you straight, before I go download a hoagie off the internet: As with a lot of this season's episodes, "Sweet Dee Has A Heart Attack" starts brilliantly and then peters out by the end. But before the fade, "Heart Attack" features a steady stream of great lines and snappy interplay, and makes good use of Sunny's classic JLA-style story development, breaking the big team off into smaller teams.
We start with the gang all together, gathering at the hospital in the wake of Deandra's sudden infarction, not to offer her any sympathy, but to reflect on their own fragility. ("We need to focus on ourselves," Dennis says to Dee, solemnly.) Mac and Charlie are particularly shaken when they discover that hospitals cost money–Mac says that usually at hospitals he just "gets some antibiotics, the sores go away," and he moves on with his life, while Charlie's never paid a bill because he prefers to live "off the grid"–so they decide to get a job in order to score themselves some health insurance. Despite writing their resumé in pen on a legal pad (headed: "The Official Resumé Of Mac And Charlie"), the duo actually do find work in an office mailroom after they say that they're willing to split minimum wage. Mac imagines that office life will be like The Secret Of My Success, right down to the sound of Yello's "Oh Yeah" on the soundtrack. (Or as Mac calls, it "Day Bow Bow," as in "day bow bow ump chicka chicka.") Charlie, meanwhile, spends many stressful hours taking the mail that comes pouring down the mail chute and just flinging it around willy-nilly. ("What's your system here, bro?" Mac asks with mild concern.)
Meanwhile, Dennis and Dee decide to avoid future trips to the hospital by improving their health, hitting the health club to pursue what Dee calls the "mind-body-abs connection" and what Dennis describes as "that Jesus-on-the-cross look." ("Crucifixion must've been really good for your core," Dee figures.) Unfortunately, nothing seems to work out for them at the gym, either because the guy who teaches the spin class is a dick with crappy taste in music–D&D; would prefer Steve Winwood–or because Dee's not really going to get that good a workout while wearing jeans. They switch their plan from exercise to "shakes and powders and new outfits," and determine that they're getting plenty healthy just from the supplements, even though Dee's suffering from diarrhea ("just flushing out the toxins," Dennis insists) and Dennis is horribly constipated (which means his body is "working at 100% efficiency").
In the end–again, JLA-style–they end up back together, in the waiting room of a free clinic as a result of various mishaps and ailments. Only if theh Sunny gang really were the Justice League, there'd be more of a big finish some reason for them all to join forces, followed by a slam-bang finale. "Heart Attack" had none of that. Still, it had some fine moments I'll get to below the grade. And as for the material that didn't work, I'm going to use Charlie's mail-sorting system on it: "The least important stuff gets burned."
-Was this the shortest cold open in series history?
-Jesus had good messages.
-"You don't pay a fireman to put out a fire, or a cop to shoot a guy."
-Oddly enough, I had a Coach Dickenballs back in junior high. And he did like to dress as a bumblebee.
-"I figured: I got insurance, what the hell, I can smoke ."
-Barney comes and goes.
-Doesn't it seem incongruous that this show now takes place in the home of Major League Baseball's world champions?
-I neglected to bring up Frank's "over medicated, off to the nuthouse" storyline, which was mainly an excuse to insert a few insider-y One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest gags. Two things I liked about the Cuckoo's Nest riffs: The guy at the beginning saying "hit me" over and over, just like DeVito's character does in the original film; and that "The Chief" is played by Tim Samson, whom I will assume is related to the original Chief, Will Sampson.
-By the way, this program contained nudity. Terrible, terrible nudity.