[Call me The TV Club's "rover." Last night I covered for Kyle on The Sarah Silverman Program, and tonight I'm taking over for my wife, who's off pursuing her real job and being an academic at a conference. (Hi honey! Did your plane ever leave the tarmac?)]
So what should we talk about, regarding this week's hour-long Sunny? Personally, I'd like to talk about money. This week we got a reminder that even though the gang works in a dive bar with no regular customers, only two of the five are actual denizens of the underclass. The twins grew up with Frank, who's apparently loaded. (At the least, he can afford a membership in a hoity-toity country club, and still have money left over to buy a pimp chalice.) Since Frank's sick of bailing out his slumming step-kids and their skuzzy pals, when the electricity goes out at the bar he sits back and watches while the gang tries to sell drugs to get money to buy back the drugs they accidentally stole from the mob. Or something like that.
Actually, Frank doesn't completely stand clear. Seizing on an idea that must have been buzzing in the back of his brain for years, Frank decides to drum up some cash by offering Dennis' services as an "escort," first to the "classy" ladies at his club, and then to anyone who can cough up the dough. At first, Dennis has strict rules about what he will and will not do–for example "no kissing," and "no ass-play"–but by the end of the episode, after Frank has put an ad in the local paper promising "no rules," all bets are off. ("Do you like ass-play? He'll do anything with the ass.")
Meanwhile, Charlie and Sweet Dee become drug dealers and start getting high on their own supply, despite Dee's warning about "our past addictions to glue and crack," and they also get a second chance to screw over Rickety Cricket, the priest who left the church to pursue Dee last season–an incident she can barely remember now. As for Mac, he's pissed at being left behind at Frank's club after his own drug-dealing plans go awry, so he decides to get revenge by joining the mob. But the only job the mobsters will give him is Charlie-work, cleaning toilets, and when Mac boasts of his "cat-like reflexes," they start calling him Pussy Hands.
And why does all this come about? Because Frank's not turning loose of his bankroll, and nobody else has any ready cash. Which prompts Dee to ask a good question: "How do three men in their thirties not have $800 between them?" Answer: Because that's how this show works. These guys aren't poor because the world is against them; they're poor because they suck. It's funny how in other sitcoms about lovable losers–The Honeymooners, for example–the audience roots for the characters to catch a break once in a while, but in Sunny, the gang is so irresponsible and idiotic that we don't want them to win. If anything, we actively root against them in a way audiences never did when, say, Ralph Kramden was on a game show and didn't win any money because he couldn't recall the composer of "Swanee River."
We should probably also talk about the length of this week's episode too, which didn't completely work. The pacing was a little slower than usual, and the story didn't really get going until the second half. Or maybe it was just that the second half played better because the gang was separated into teams, Justice League Of America-style. As great as Sunny's ensemble is, they work better in duets and trios than when they're all together in a room. The first half of "The Gang Gets Whacked," with everyone working together, was a little shouty.
-Decent cold-open pre-title line tonight: "What's the worst that could happen?"
-Another classic comic smash-cut: Mac agreeing to help his mob boss "take care of" his wife, followed by a shot of Mac on the roof of the boss's house, cleaning gutters and muttering, "Goddamn mafia!"
-There were almost too many great Charlie moments to record this week, including his understanding of the drug-dealing/electricity-repair plan ("You're saying we're going to do the drugs and then try to fix the lights?"), his attempt to come up with code words for cocaine ("Nose clams straight from the sea!"), and Dee's description of Charlie's attempt to ask for money in a cool way. ("He said he wanted many many thousands of green people from history times.") But I personally liked the way Charlie was enchanted by the jockeys at Frank's club, and his response to one's insistence that nobody parties like a jockey: "I was not familiar with that expression. I didn't know you guys could talk."
-Maybe it's the lingering effect of "the limoncello incident," but I can't see DeVito on this show without thinking he's probably drunk.