Sunday, October 14, 2012

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The Complete Seventh Season Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
In season seven see the Gang prepare for the apocalypse, hit the beach at the Jersey Shore, produce a child beauty pageant, and take a walk down memory lane at their high school reunion. As they say, some things never change. So prepare for more depraved schemes, half-baked arguments and absurdly underhanded plots to subvert one another.  ”It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The Complete Seventh Season” features Charlie (Charlie Kelly), Mac (Rob McElhenney), Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Sweet Dee (Kaitlin Olson) and Frank (Danny DeVito), five ne’er-do-wells who own and operate Paddy’s Pub in Philadelphia. Their constant scheming to get ahead by not-so-redeemable methods usually lands them in a world of hurt, yet they never seem to learn from their mistakes.

Film  (4 out of 5 stars)
I've said before that It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a meaner, rougher, and more blue-collar version of Seinfeld.  When Seinfeld aired its last episode, the show's creator Larry David sent them all to prison since he felt that they were despicable human beings.  The Seinfeld group has nothing on the gang from Philly who are less likely to steal rye bread from an old lady than to smoke a crack pipe with some homeless people.  The "gang" is made up of a bunch of losers who will do anything to get ahead, even if it means screwing each other over which they prove more than once again this season.

The patriarch of the group is Frank Reynolds (Danny DeVito) who is the legal guardian of Dennis (Glenn Howerton) and Deandra (Kaitlin Olson) and is most likely the biological father of the dimwitted Charlie (Charlie Day).  Frank is no role model for the group since he regularly frequents hookers, uses drugs, hangs out under a bridge with homeless people, and walks through the sewer naked with Charlie to find discarded items. This season Frank decides to marry a skanky hooker against the group's wishes.  We also learn a lot about Frank's past when his brother shows up to rekindle their competition to win over a singer's affection that's been going on for decades.  This season Frank also gets mixed up in a children's beauty pageant which ends very badly.

Dennis is a egocentric jerk whose entire existence is dependent on how he is viewed by others and the ladies.   He also has a disturbing tendency to look forward to situations where the woman he is with is trapped with no escape (like on a boat) so they will have sex with him because of the "implication."  He also marries his high school sweetheart and divorces her the next day after deciding that marriage isn't for him.  That tradition continues this season when we see Dennis' hidden kit in his trunk that includes rope, plastic binders and more troubling items that he can't explain.  His sister Dee is no better since she badgers men into sleeping with her by calling them "turkeys."  This season Dee makes some money from selling her baby to others and when she is investigated by the IRS about the money, she's forced to try to fool them into leaving her alone by faking her baby's death.

Mac (Rob McElhenney) also has an ego problem like the rest of his friends.  Not only does he believe that he is a martial artist, but he also believes he can take anyone on in a fight.  During this season, Mac has gained a ton of weight which he blames on his friends for them not following their original plan to create avatars for the group.  Dennis tries to convince Mac that he's hurting his health and sets himself up as a picture of health.  The only problem is that when the two of them go get their blood tested by a doctor, it's Dennis that has the major health issues because of his lack of eating to keep his girlish figure.

Charlie (Charlie Day) is the resident rat-catcher who enjoys killing the rats in the bar's basement.  Charlie isn't too bright but he is prone to angry outbursts when he doesn't get his way.  He is still basically white trash who has no problem wearing jeans that he found under a bridge with Frank.  Charlie and Frank believe if they boil the jeans that they will be as good as new.  Charlie is still fairly immature but that's all relative in this group.  He still pines for the waitress that seems to be happy to sleep with any man she meets other than Charlie.  During their trip to the Jersey Shore, Charlie sees her on the beach and they have a great time until the drugs leave her system and she realizes who she's with.  

This show is definitely an acquired taste.  While these characters are still completely unlikable, the situations they get themselves in are hilarious.  This season made me laugh a lot more than the sixth season which was a surprise.  There's a lot of dark humor in the show so if you are turned off on that, then this isn't the show for you.  If you are also easily offended, then this isn't for you either.  As bad as these characters are to each other and strangers, it usually comes back on them which helps balance out the show.  This season I had slightly more empathy for them because we see just how unpopular they were in high school when they return to their reunion.  

Video (4 out of 5 stars)
This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer looks pretty good.  Shot on high definition video, there's some nice detail and the colors look good.  Textures are well defined and offer a lot of detail.  There is still a few issues here and there, but the last two seasons which have been filmed in HD look a lot better than the earlier ones, especially this season.  Flesh tones look natural and consistent and the black levels are acceptably dark.  

Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'sDTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is pretty good although basically the entire show is the characters yelling at each other so it's not like you need surround sound for that.  This is a very talkative show and most of the mix is front centered.  Dialogue and rants are clear and intelligible and the music sounds good too.  The rear speakers don't get much action but for this kind of show that's kind of expected.

Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
There's not a lot of extras on this season's set, but what's here is pretty good and they're in high definition.
  • Blooper Reel - This is almost ten minutes of some very funny bloopers where we see the cast improvising non-stop.
  • Artemis Tours Philadelphia - Recurring character Artemis gives a terrible and unfunny tour of Philadelphia.
  • Commentaries - A revolving group talks about the filming locations and share anecdotes from filming each of the following episodes: "The Gang Does the Jersey Shore" - Charlie Day and Rob McElhanney; "ANTI-Social Network" - With Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day, and Rob McElhanney; "The Gang Gets Trapped" - With Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day, and Rob McElhanney; and "The High School Reunion Part 2" - With Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day, and Rob McElhanney.

    Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
    This season the show came back strong and just about every episode is a great one.  The show is just as original and politically incorrect as always.  If you are interested in a darkly funny edgy show, then you should give this show a shot.

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