The blurb on back of the box brazenly boasts that It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia features "the most vain, dishonest, self-obsessed gang of friends since Seinfeld." I don't know about you, but I'd always be cautious about comparing my show to one as accomplished, funny and fantastic as Seinfeld. You're setting yourself up for the inevitable comparisons and if you don't deliver the goods you'll be left with, well, egg on your face.
That said, what is It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (IASiP) about? Well, it's set in and around a Philadelhia Irish bar named Paddy's which is owned and run by a group of twenty something friends. It's not a very successful bar on the whole, being located in a neighbourhood which could be generously described as 'a tad undesirable'. But it's at least well managed and run... Wait, no it isn't.
IASiP stars Charlie Day as Charlie Kelly, Rob McElhenney as Mac, Glenn Howerton (That 80s Show, Crank 2) as Dennis Reynolds, Kaitlin Olson (Curb Your Enthusiasm) as Dee Renolds and in the second season (and onwards) Danny DeVito as Frank Renolds. On the whole (DeVito excluded) the cast is a collection of people who've generally had little more than reccuring guest star roles on other shows, which isn't exactly a promising thought.
But, this is the point where I need to say that there is nothing to worry about at all and that IASiP is blisteringly funny. The show and cast deliver, giving us a show which is actually be as good as the blurb claims. It's a wonderfully cynical show filled with misguided people doing very selfish and unpleasant things to each other and also unsuspecting members of the public. This is a show which doesn't seem to worry about how people are going to react if the gang actively encourage underage drinking, develop gun fever and suffer from racism while unintentionally turning Paddy's into the hottest gay bar in town (with a frankly hilarious conclusion). It's a show which isn't afraid to take the taboo and turn it into a subject for comedy - add to this the low production values of the show making it feel all the more realistic and it could be quite shocking for some to watch.
The big concern I had about starting to watch the second season (when compared to the first) was the arrival of Danny DeVito in a major role. The rest of the cast - while being brilliant, funny and entertaining - are not as accomplished a group of actors, or even comic actors as Danny. His epic run in Taxi as Louie De Palma would be intimidating enough even if you did ignore all of the films he's acted in over the years (L.A. Confidential, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest etc etc). Fortunately, while DeVito is a comedy force to be reckoned with, he's not completely overpowering - in fact he's exactly the right fit for the show and as such freaking hilarious.
Really if you're not watching IASiP already you need to seriously consider giving this region one DVD set a whirl - it's exactly the kind of show for people who enjoy their sitcoms on the bleaker, nastier and more cynical side of life. It is certainly a show which Seinfeld fans could get their teeth into, but it's also one for people who enjoy the Brit-com model (which often features nasty people doing horrible things and getting their come-uppance). But in truth, at the price this set is, it's something that anyone who enjoys a good "non-PC" laugh should try out.
It really is that good.
Sunny Side Up: Making-Of Featurette
Katilin Audition Featurette
The Gang F*#!s Up Outtakes
Fox Movie Channel Presents Making a Scene: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Commentary on selected episodes
Scenes from the Original Pilot
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Rating: N/A (But I'd suspect it's at least a 15)
Region: 1 NTSC
Run time: 380 mins
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French