TV review: ‘Sunny’ premiere exceeds expectations

By Joe O'Leary

After six years and 70 episodes, I was actually a little skeptical of the season seven premiere of “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” Sure, I had no real reason to be concerned; the show’s been firing on all cylinders for a few years running now. But after all of the places the show’s gone, from crack addiction to insane asylums, I questioned whether “Sunny” could remain funny, and whether it’d finally run out of steam this year. Of course, that was before I watched the newest episode.

By the time the episode title “Frank’s Pretty Woman” came on-screen, I was already choking back laughter. When the episode ended with the main cast carrying a dead prostitute into an apartment hallway and simply leaving her body on the ground as Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” played in the background, I knew just how wrong my assumptions had been. I had seen a work of beauty.

Frank, played with even more insane bravado than usual by Danny Devito, begins the episode by introducing Dee and Charlie to his new girlfriend, Roxy. Except Roxy’s not his girlfriend, she’s a prostitute. And Frank wants to pay her to marry him. Cue the title.

On other shows, this plot would be too risque, but for “Sunny,” it’s only the tip of the lewd iceberg. Charlie thinks Frank can do better than Roxy, so he plans to pull a “Pretty Woman” to help Frank fall in love with another girl. Of course, Charlie’s talents include sniffing glue and smacking rats, so his idea of a “Pretty Woman” is to pretend to be a millionaire and go on a date with a woman, with Frank as his limo driver, and fake an illness, after which Frank can salvage the date. In typical Charlie fashion, this backfires. Horribly. Not to spoil it, let’s just say it’s one of the absolute funniest things “Sunny” has ever done.

Meanwhile,Rob McElhenney, who plays Mac, gained 50 pounds between seasons because he thought it would be funny. And it works. His character, the former workout freak, is now carrying around a trash bag full of chimichangas and offering Dennis insulin. Dennis, though, is more focused on the crack that Roxy smokes nonstop on-screen.

In the season two classic “Dennis and Dee Go On Welfare,” the sibling duo got addicted to crack. It hasn’t been mentioned since, but now that Roxy’s putting them in what Dennis calls “an unsafe environment,” they’re fighting that addiction and losing horribly. By the end of the episode, Dennis is planning on buying some of Roxy’s stash, and Dee has already hopped back on the train.

Of course, as the gang gathers for Frank’s proposal to Roxy, she drops dead, overdosing on the floor of Charlie’s apartment. And after a few seconds of shock, the gang does the most sensible thing (at least, sensible to their terrible, self-preserving lifestyles) and leaves her body on the ground.

“Sunny” earns its TV-MA rating, to say the very least. Sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s even on television. But if this premiere’s any indication, not only is the show thriving, but it’s better than ever. In the next two weeks, the Paddy’s Pub crew will head to the Jersey Shore and the world of child beauty pageants. This season will be a wild, debauched ride.

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