Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia: "The World Series Defense"

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When I went on Fox’s website yesterday to grab a picture of this week’s Sunny episode for this review, and saw the image above, I knew it was gonna be great this week. And it was. It was an unholy mess, and in an about the World Series we didn’t get to see any baseball, but between Frank, Dee and Mac retching poison gas, the dungeon filled with dead Philly fans and the return of Green Man, it had enough balls-out hilarity to forgive just about anything.

And with the Philadelphia Phillies reaching the World Series this week, it was a timely episode, and I bet it was written with the expressed hope that the Phils would still be in contention come Sunny’s airdates. Ever since the show did a Philadelphia Eagles episode in “The Gang Gets Invincible,” I’ve been waiting for a Phillies show. And this one had Green Man too!  I can assume that more episodes, centered around the 76ers and Flyers, will follow in future seasons.

“The World Series Defense” began with the gang all gussied up in parking ticket court, including Charlie in his mustard and green tie, frantically passing papers to Dennis. The judge was played by Patricia Belcher, probably best known from Bones, but I don’t think there’s a TV show in which she hasn’t played a grumpy, no-nonsense figure of authority. The gang are appealing an egregious parking ticket they got last year. What’s their defense? The Phillies won the World Series!

Now, one of my favorite things about this episode is that it sets us up for drunken mayhem and an expected mass blackout by the gang, which you figure will be their excuse for not moving their car, and then takes several completely bizarre turns. I figured it wasn’t going to be a straight-up alcoholic rampage, but I didn’t anticipate some of the set-pieces they had instead. Still, the opening scene had some great zingers confirming the country’s widely-held beliefs about Phillies fans.

Dennis pops off his shirt, noting that sports events are one occasion where that’s allowed, so he’ll be “blasting bare chest the whole time.” Won’t he be cold, Frank asks?  “I’m not gonna be cold at all. Cause I’ll be wasted on grain alcohol.” Charlie and Frank also do an adorable back-to-back dance, scratching their bedbug bites because their apartment is infested (and I have no doubt it’s their fault).

After that, as the gang tells the judge, things get weird. This was the rare episode in which Green Man wasn’t one of the weirdest things onscreen – in fact, Charlie’s Green Man plot, where he tries to usurp the Philly Phanatic, who he feels has a “stranglehold on the Philly mascot seat,” was one of the tamer things to happen. I thought their little fight was very cute, but I’m worried Green Man is losing some of his impact. They should only rely him for the wackiest stuff.

Everything else was, luckily, totally demented. Frank left the tickets on his coffee table, but the apartment’s being fumigated. So while he goes inside with a hose, like a deep-sea diver, Mac and Dee plan who she’ll kiss when she invades the field during the game. Dee’s planning on Ryan Howard, but Mac is really pushing for Chase Utley. Because he wants her to deliver a letter to him – a letter that is so sweet and earnest in its creepiness, I almost forgot to laugh. But it was funny. My favorite part was Mac shaking his head ruefully when the letter hit the topic of distant fathers, or his admission that “in a lot of ways, yes, I do love him…but there’s nothing sexual.” The funniest thing: Chase Utley is pretty ugly. Seriously, google him.

It got even better when Mac and Dee went into the bug-bombed building to check on Frank. It felt like the writers couldn’t think of a way to end the scene, so they just subjected us to half a minute of close-ups of the three of them retching horribly. Luckily, that was hilarious, and it cut away just before it stopped being hilarious. Who looked the strangest? Danny DeVito, of course, but the man has years of experience in looking strange.

Dennis and Charlie wandering around the Phillies parking lot was kinda funny, but after a while you started to figure out that they didn’t have the rights to do anything in the ballpark, and even Dennis getting hit by a car was a little tired. But once the rest of the gang shows up, with bloodshot eyes (“Why are your eyes all filled with blood?” “On account of the poison.”) and they start looking for the secret tunnel between a Holiday Inn and Citizen Banks ballpark (built to shield road teams from Philly fans, because “We’re passionate fans. We’ve gotta hammer something”), it was great again.

And if, like me, you thought the whole thing was getting a little boring as they frantically searched the Holiday inn, well, the Sunny crew knew that too. So we got a dungeon filled with Philly fan corpses. Who cares if it wasn’t real? I’m with Dennis, it spiced the story up. “To be honest, it kinda felt like we were losing you for a bit,” he says, all meta. To get even more meta (and funny), Charlie starts ranting about how they couldn’t use the Philly Phanatic’s name all episode because he’s trademarked, so they had to call him the “Frenetic,” which I’m so glad they acknowledged cause it was super-weird. And hey, why stop there? “Can we talk about steroids? Cause it’s bullshit! It’s ruining the game!” Charlie screams. I’m with ya, bud.

Stray observations:

Grain alcohol = “riot punch.” Jumping in front of a car = “the Charlie one-two.”

Mac in court: “I don’t appreciate being paraphrased. I choose my words very deliberately.”

I didn’t mention the push-up contest in the review, but it was great, especially Dennis’ insistence that the record show Mac only works out with his glamour muscles.

What happens when the judge rules against them? “I call kangaroo court!”