One of my favorite things in Sunny is whenever they have a professional, straight-laced bystander who hangs around for an episode and watches the gang completely lose their shit. This week was centered around an intervention for Frank’s drinking (which had gotten so extreme that it was no longer fun for anyone else), but it ended up with the horrifying, and pretty hilarious, spectacle of the whole cast staggering around Paddy’s with wine-flecked teeth while a medical expert looked on.
This episode had a lot of Frank being weird and gross, which is something a vocal contingent of Sunny watchers probably object to. While I’m speaking only on evidence found skimming the internet, there definitely seems to be a school of thought that Sunny was at its best before it added Danny DeVito in its second season. I don’t really understand it myself, because there were only seven DeVito-less episodes (compared to some 40-plus with him) and I think the show really found its rhythms in its second year. I’d love to hear why anyone disagrees, because honestly, I haven’t even seen the first few episodes in years, and I barely remember the Frank-less show.
My favorite aspect of Frank’s character is his symbiotic hobo relationship with Charlie, and we got a good dose of that this week. While everyone agreed that the intervention was necessary because Frank’s depravity was plumbing new depths (plus he keeps mysteriously producing joints and says things like “Block the wind. I’m gonna roast this bone”), Charlie was the only person who seemed genuinely hurt by Frank’s decline. The best scene in the episode was Charlie dictating his intervention letter to Dennis, and saying, “we aren’t really making memories together anymore.”
That was followed by Charlie complaining that the two don’t even play “Nightcrawlers” together anymore, a game title that horrified Dennis, and later the entire gang, in its creepy ambiguity. Apparently it involves them crawling around at night like worms. That needs to be referenced again in a future episode.
Along with charming Frank-Charlie love, we got Frank being the most disgusting he’s ever been, save for maybe pooping the bed. One scene was devoted to Danny DeVito spitting and burping on the street until beer foam ran down his bare chest. Credit to the man, he really goes all out to play Frank, although from what I’ve seen of him in real life, maybe he just is that depraved. We also got a great appearance by Frank’s gun, one of my favorite recurring gags on the show. He’s lured to the bar on the pretence of a gas fire, and charges in waving his pistol. What a great way to fight fires!
The intervention planning involved Dennis, Dee and Charlie going to see an intervention doctor, played by “hey it’s that person” Suzy Nakamura, who has been in like a zillion TV shows like The West Wing and stuff. Like many of the bystander characters on the show, her job was to sit down, vainly protest against the sicker-and-sicker plots of the gang, and eventually just give up and stare in horror. She did fine.
Things break down mostly because of Frank’s excellent idea to fill Diet Coke cans with box wine, which, both Dennis and Mac noticed, really helps if you gesticulate a lot when you talk. “I’m active, I’m gesturing with my hands,” Dennis says approvingly. In fact, everyone quickly agrees that it isn’t Frank’s can-wine idea that’s the problem, it’s just that it leads him to dos weird things like try to crash the funeral of his brother to hit on the widow. “The guy’s got great ideas,” they admit.
By the time the intervention is staged, everyone has Jack Nicholson as The Joker grins and is making siren noises. Frank just thinks he’s being roasted. “You are AN-NOY-ING,” Dennis shouts. “Lay it on me!” Frank says gleefully. There really is no resolution to the story – but I felt like because the intervention itself was so much fun, the gang just decides to forget about the problem until it resurfaces again, which is nice.
Gotta say, though, I found the B-plot this week pretty undercooked. Both Mac and Frank are trying to sleep with the brother’s wife, Frank because it’s depraved and Mac because it reminds him of banging Barbara, Frank’s dead wife. We get the great image of Mac cooking breakfast, with pancakes and eggshells strewn around her lovely kitchen, but it never really comes together and didn’t get many laughs out of me.
Mary Lynn Rajskub, who rocks, drops in to do a variation on the McPoyle shtick, being weird and drawly as weird cousin “Gail the Snail.” She’s good at the shtick but it was still a lazy clone of the other wacko recurring characters they have on this show. What was terrific was everyone’s immediate revulsion around her, and Charlie eventually showering salt all over her to banish her from the bar. “There’s not enough salt in the world for her!”
Still, I loved the intervention insanity and I’m a sucker for Frank being a disgusting pig. The episode was high on quick laughs but felt a little more thrown-together than usual
- Mac brings a super-soaker to the party in the park. I also loved his green visor.
- Dennis is disgusted by how Gail made him bully her. “What kind of person salts another human being?”
- Charlie’s worried that Frank doesn’t like being drunk with him, but Dennis assures him, “you get really really drunk, then you get restless, it’s a lot of fun.”
- Best way to disarm Frank: ambush him with a “rope device.”
- Is Zuko wine real?
- “You’re just mashing it now,” Frank complains about Gail’s handjob.
- Mac’s defense when Frank finds out he slept with his dead wife? “She was alive at the time!”